1. Launch User-Centric, Participatory Research: As a first step, begin to gather user input — and develop field skills — with interviews, card sorting exercises and scenario observations.
  2. Use Available Metrics to Set the Baseline: Site analytics from the current intranet tell you who uses it, for how long and what parts are avoided.
  3. Analyze Intranet Help Desk Records to Identify Top Problem Areas: Doing so provides direct insight into the main hurdles to wider adoption.
  4. Interview Users to Discover Needs: However, keep in mind that people often describe how they would like to work rather than how they actually do.
  5. Observe and Record Users to Study Work Behaviors: It's the best way to understand both particular work habits and uncover design flaws that remain hidden from the experts on the design team.
  6. Engage Users to Reveal Organizational Habits and Priorities: For example, card sorting helps to discover how they organize, access and manipulate information.
  7. Create Personas to Guide Design Decisions: Personas provide key information about users' goals, attitudes and behaviors that is required for effective interaction design.
  8. Deploy Ongoing Usability Testing: A spectrum of users should repeatedly test paper prototypes, wireframe mockups and coded development interfaces in contexts that encourage them to give utterly frank feedback.
  9. Identify "Carrots" that Can Help Wean Users Off of Old Methods: You can encourage change by presenting users with clear improvements to their current work habits.
  10. Conduct a Heuristic Test: It's difficult for intranet team members to "forget" their knowledge of the system, so heuristic tests are more valuable when conducted by outside evaluators.

TIM WALTERS, Ph.D., is a senior analyst at Forrester Research, where he serves information and knowledge management professionals. For more information, visit www.forrester.com.


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