Staff should be able to confidently, quickly and accurately step from the home page of the intranet towards the information they require. If staff can’t achieve this without resorting to search, the home page needs to be redesigned.
As discussed in Full site redesign? Start by addressing the home page, many home pages fail because they are exclusively devoted to exposing new and useful content. Both of these have a place on a home page, but they should be kept in proportion with its role as a gateway to all site content.
This article explains a quick and effective technique for assessing whether your home page is an effective gateway to site content.
Define a set of information-seeking tasks
The first step is to define 10-15 common information-seeking tasks. Search engine logs and previous user research are both good resources for discovering what people look for on the site. Don’t use site usage statistics as these will only show what the site effectively enables people to find, which will bias the test.
Examples of information-seeking tasks include:
- find the sick leave form
- find the annual report
- find the process for performance appraisals
Try to avoid tasks where there is already a direct content link on the home page. For example, if in the ‘Useful links’ area of the home page there is a link to ‘sick leave form’ do not include this as a task. This is an evaluation of the effectiveness of the home page as a gateway to the site content, not whether the participant notices a link.
[CM Briefing 2006-09 written by Iain Barker, read the full article]