Have you ever walked into a Wal-Mart to buy some laundry detergent and get overwhelmed with where to go, how to find what you’re looking for, or who can help? Let’s make it a little more scary and pretend it’s the holiday season and there are customers and workers everywhere. You know what you need but cannot find it because of the endless shelves and isles and people clogging up the aisle ways with their shopping carts and merchandise. Then it’s off to the check-out to wait in an equally as busy queue. It’s a stressful experience if you’ve ever been there. What probably should have taken 5 minutes, took a half an hour! That’s how your employees may feel about your current company intranet. With this article, we’ll look at how to prevent, and clean up your intranet clutter.
Keep It Simple
Intranet clutter is only going to detract employees and decrease your intranet’s engagement. Prevent this by keeping things simple. Albert Einstein said, “Out of clutter, find simplicity”. An appropriate statement for intranets. This can be achieved in many ways with your own intranet. Your design and layout are where it all starts.
There is no need for endless menu options, or ‘shortcuts’ everywhere you go. With a nicely laid out navigation system, shortcuts aren’t very necessary. If you do find you have too many menu options, try seeing what apps and resources can be consolidated together. The same goes for sections. It’s nice to have a section for each department, but is it necessary? Does it distract from the overall goal of connecting employees together if they are confined to their own “section” of news and applications. Having a Wiki page application like Noodle’s helps solve this by allowing you to make pages within sections while still having the ability to branch to specific resources for that group or department. This allows you to give groups their own “space” without cluttering the intranet’s navigation system.
It’s tempting to make your homepage look like a one stop information portal. This is possible, but the simplicity rule applies as well. You can have appealing content on your main homepage, but use it as a summary, not a bulletin board. You may have a spot for Daily Announcements or News, but you don’t need to post every article on your homepage. Widgets are also very useful and easy to add in Noodle’s Rich Text Editor, but many widgets and tools on your main page can be distracting.
An ideal homepage should have a simple to navigate menu system, some company branding (color, logo, mascot) and only the most important daily/updated material posted to the main page. I want to repeat the point about important daily/updated material, as that is what will keep the users engaged and continue to visit your site. Static links and content should already be available in the navigation system, no need more more links/shortcuts! Noodle’s What’s New feature provides an activity feed so users can check out the newest content. Having resources, news, links and pictures do have a place on your homepage, as long as it makes sense and serves a purpose or fulfills a need for the end-user.
Another important note is consistency. In terms of finding information, which is really the biggest use of any intranet, tagging and keywords are important. But it’s only useful if the users adding content are consistent with their tags and keywords. Noodle keeps a nice list of your tags that makes the content easy to search. But users still need to be adding the proper tags, or not making other tags that could fit under a similar category. It’s best to set a standard for your documents and content so that everyone is consistent with things like naming conventions, tagging and searchable keywords.
Out With The Old……
So using simple design strategies from scratch can certainly prevent intranet clutter. But if you’re reading this, you more likely already have an intranet that could be featured on the next season of “Hoarders”. Although you could still make changes to simplify your design and layout, cleaning up the intranet clutter is also an important step.
I suggest starting with Users. Take a look at your users and try to clear out anyone who is not with the company anymore, or send notifications to accounts that have not been used in some time. Sometimes employees need to be re-engaged. Using analytics like “Engagement Score” helps when addressing use of employees. If you don’t already have your intranet as part of your off-boarding process, include it as part of the steps you take when an employee leaves. Make it a part of your IT department’s routine when removing other accounts for employees leaving the company. If a current employee finds many former co-workers still in their company directory, this will reflect an outdated, neglected company intranet.
It’s not just about removing users either. It’s making sure they are in the proper group/department, have the appropriate permissions, or the correct title. Again, if an employee is switching departments or received a new position, make your Intranet administrator aware of employee changes. Why not create an “Employee Status Change” form using Noodle’s Database application and set it up so that the person in charge of your users automatically receives this information when a manager fills it out and submits it.
The next most obvious thing that stands out in terms of intranet clutter is documents. Shared folders, locally and in the cloud, have been so very successful in defeating the array of lost e-mail attachments in your inbox. But even with documents in one centralized place, things can still get lost. Old, irrelevant information comes up in search results. Too many revisions make finding what you are looking for difficult. Make it a regular task to go through material to remove any of this outdated information. Set up archive folders and put revisions and old documents there that you don’t want to part with. Or use Noodle’s Workflow feature to automate a process to archive or delete documents after a certain amount of time expires.
Lastly, look at the applications and features themselves. Do you have tools that aren’t really being used. Old forms from expired events. Clear them out or turn them off. Unless they have a specific use, they probably aren’t going to rebound in popularity. This can apply to blog content as well or old discussion forum topics. Don’t let intranet clutter slow you down. If it no longer serves a purpose, get rid of it!
Now You Can Breathe
It’s time to log in and take a look around. Do things look a lot cleaner? Were you greeted by news for your upcoming week? Were you easily able to find that document you were looking for? That’s simplicity, and that’s a useful intranet. Employees will not try to avoid your intranet, they will find it relevant and clean. Start your de-cluttering journey by signing up for a free demonstration of Noodle Intranet. We promise, we will make the process simply awesome.