What process you follow to develop a UI for an Intranet application?

24 Jun 2010 - 11:46pm
1 year ago
5 replies
1225 reads
ravi.munireddy
2010

Hi Every one,

What process do you follow to develop a UI for a intranet application from scratch and you have to rely on a single &  very high level requirements document,  and there is no other source of input [not even from Users / Stackholder]...except Internet and you are new to the domain.

I know my question is unrealistic but this was aksed to me in an interview by a Product Manager.

Thanks & Regards,
Ravi

 

 

Comments

25 Jun 2010 - 4:05am
Stew Dean
2007

Hi,   That's a tough one. With an intranet you have a known audience so getting to know the users needs can be much easier than a public site.    If you can do user research then do so, if it's not in your remit, still do it if you can! The best approach for this is to do contextual study, simply talking to users in the location they work in, at their desk or workstation or where ever they access the intranet or do their work. Get a cross section of different people / roles throughout the company and then set up some one hour interviews, unlike usability testing you'll continue to find out interesting stuff after ten interviews. It's possible to do 40 and still be discovering with contextual enquiry. The key will be to understand what job they do and what information they need and when, form that should fall the needs of the user and indirectly the functionality. Only ask them what functionality they need on any system towards the end of any interview - the last quarter or later. If things go smoothly they'll be telling  you what they need well before that without having to prompt them. Also don't always take IT's machine specs for the company as golden. You'll often find non standards setups where you least expect them in large companies.

  In terms of designing the intranet there are several things worth avoiding. First is one trap that many fall into, that is adding user driven customisation. In theory this sounds like a good idea but if you have to customise a site to make it useful then changes are it's been badly designed in the first place. Also avoid grouping content according to department. This is how most intranets are organised and it leads to the user having to find the right link in the right place to find the right information. Whilst the intranet should be open for collaboration and editing to those who can best add content to it the structure of most companies does not make for a good organisation of information.  Also avoid drop downs of 'usefull links'.  If it's a heavily accessed area then it should be visible at the start of the user journey and easy to get to from any forms of navigation.  Other than that as this is potentially the first thing many users will look at when the start the day avoid funky user interface ideas in favour of interesting, useful and relevant content. The more someone users something the more invisible the interface needs to be. The problem with this is that many managers may want some added funkiness to keep them interested and may throw in some cool ideas to ensure they are seen to be contributing. User testing at the end is a way to ensure any bad ideas you put into place for the sake of politics are removed - although make sure you don't kill the good contributions. 

  Stew Dean        

  On 25 June 2010 07:47, ravi.munireddy <muniravi@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Every one,

What process do you follow to develop a UI for a intranet application from scratch and you have to rely on a single &  very high level requirements document,  and there is no other source of input [not even from Users / Stackholder]...except Internet and you are new to the domain.

I know my question is unrealistic but this was aksed to me in an interview by a Product Manager.

Thanks & Regards,
Ravi

 

 

(((Please leave all c
25 Jul 2013 - 9:45am
Antonio
2009

Hi,

Thank you for sharing your advices here. I find them very, very usefull and I will definitely print them out for future reference.

I have a question about design: would you consider doing a participatory design following the initial fase of user reserach/ interview? How do you see that being conducted? Would you use any technique in particular? 

Regards,

Antonio

25 Jun 2010 - 5:48am
Samantha LeVan
2009

I'd not take that job if I got that question from a PM. It implies there may be something unpleasant about working in UX at that company. No input, even from business stakeholders? That's not going to happen. In that case, I'd turn the question on the interviewer by stating why that would cost the company a lot of money on an application that won't meet user or business needs and then asking how that PM provides guidance to the development team. I'd use this as a probe to know why such a question would be asked because if you have to know how to design for that situation, well, would you really want to be there? Uggg.

28 Jun 2010 - 5:49am
ravi.munireddy
2010

Thanks for the Reply Samantha, Yes I did the same thing.

25 Jun 2010 - 7:37am
mouly
2010

In an Intranet, users are a part of a closed group, i.e. the employees. So identity and role of users are already established. Similarly there is a pre-existing organizational structure amongst this closed group. These are two important characteristics of any Intranet that I think should be considered in its design.

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