Guide users with user friendly navigation

15-08-2018 The value of UX (user experience) has long been appreciated on websites, but in too many internal systems across organizations the user experience has been overlooked. In this post we show how an improved navigation can give a better user experience on your intranet.

Internal systems in an organization are there to help employees solve a task, whether it be project planning, time registration or something else. But far too often the systems are developed to just focus on function with no regard to their ease of use. 

It seems like people have forgotten that the less time it takes the employee to solve their task, the more efficient they'll be in their job. 

On the intranet a task might be to find updated policies and forms for travel expences. If the way to this content is blocked by confusing terms and illogical sortings of content the employee will need to use extra time and energy, which could instead have been used on their work. 

The good navigation

A good navigation is simply one that guides the user to where they need to go. It should be obvious but far too often the navigation on an intranet is blocked by organizational responsibilities, alphabetic sorting and undefined terms that cause confusion. With a user friendly navigation you can make a massive difference to the user experience of your intranet. If you guide the employee and show them the right way they'll be more likely to choose the intranet as their primary source the next time they look for information. 

1. Make use clear terms

When naming menu items and headlines you need to use the same language as the users themselves use.  

2. Keep it simple

To guide the user to where they need to go, avoid giving them too many option. When you design your navigation remember that less is more. 

3. Make it topic based

Go for the topics that are relevant to your organization and your colleagues.  

When should you change your navigation?

If your own intranet navigation doesn't live up to the above advice you might have the urge to do a complete makeover. But before you do, remember that the users need to be able to keep up with any changes. If they open up the intranet and face a completely new navigation than the one they saw yesterday, it will lead to frustration and irritation that the content they are looking for is no longer where it used to be. Instead you can, bite for bite, change the menu based on user tests allowing the users to follow along and get used to the changes. 

For more info regarding navigation and UX see the video on the right, where UX expert Berit Krickhahn shares from her experience. 

What have others done?

In the below video Berit Krickhahn tells the story of a client and how they changed their navigation by using an overarching mission and engaging the users (English subtitles are available on video). 

IntraActive Quick Talk: Navigation on the Intranet: