It’s time to look at the parent page of the content page—the navigation page.
Intranets are usually built in a hierarchical structure, or have at least some navigation choices the end-users perceive as a hierarchy going forward/down in the structure. Search is already the most used navigation model on internet (people do a Google search and go directly to a page with the answer), and intranets will in time follow this trend. But right now, most organisations probably still have classic core menu navigation, from the homepage forward to answers, as the most common way to access content.
It’s really important to have a good information architecture on the intranet, if we want the end-users to find the answers they seek. The classic test methods Card sorting and Tree testing are all about finding the right sorting for your content. It’s also important to, through the page design, show the end-user how the content is sorted, because we want them to make the right choices on their way to the answers.
On many intranets traditional navigation pages, placed between the home page and the content pages, are just pages saying “click in the left-hand menu for continuing”. Maybe a more fitting name for this kind would be “transit pages”. This type av page is also often a place for a lot of internal “commercials”, suggesting the end-user should look at a lot of other stuff than the thing the end-user is actually looking for.
My view is that navigation pages could serve the end-user better by focusing on the end-user’s major need—to get one step closer to the right content page. Therefore a great navigation page should be only about navigation, like this:
Try it out live here! (Mockup for W375 points = iPhone 6/6s/7/8/X/Xs)
The only way forward on this navigation page is to chose one item on the page. Every sub-heading on this page leads to a content page (with the same word/sentence as the heading). Every related summary explains in a few words what the end-user can expect to find on the page. If necessary, one could also have a preamble directly under the heading for explaining what this unique navigation page about. In essence, the whole page is the menu.
This way, focus will be on the end-users need to find an answer, without distractions. I’ve tested this design before with really good end-user results. The time for reaching an answer is minimal with this kind of solution.
(Next post: The intranet homepage. Part 5 will be published in July/August.)