Major Issue With An Intranet User Group

I'm currently working on a large intranet redesign project. I'm in the middle of the user research phase.

This intranet serves 15,000 staff. One-third of this workforce are a somewhat unique user group. These 5,000 people work in small and widely distributed accommodation facilities across the state in teams of 5 - 6. Their work involves caring for disabled tenants. They use a computer 1 or 2 times a fortnight and use the current intranet rarely, if at all. Most of this workforce are casual workers with limited IT skills (for example, I observed one worker become confused when trying to work out how to close a MS Word document). There is one computer per team and the computer and network performance is slower than normal.

The organisation wants these people to use the intranet for forms, policies, procedures and other administrative tasks. The organisation has good intentions to design an inclusive intranet that meets the needs of these 5,000 workers and the remaining workforce.

But I'm starting to wonder about the reality of these intentions. We can design an intranet to support their tasks, but will they use it? We know this group of users has low IT literacy, low computer usage and limited time to complete administrative tasks. There seems to be so many barriers standing in the way of their using the intranet. Will an intranet designed to support their tasks be enough to draw them into using the intranet?

Have you ever come up against something like this? Where you've discovered major barriers which indicate your target users won't use the product you are designing? What did you do about it? What advice can you offer to me in my situation?

4 comments:

Nicholas said...

Hey Suze,

I found this great link that might help. It's entitled "Ten Best Government Intranets".

It actually highlights the recurring features and themes of successfully implemented intranets. Some info there that might help you target your research/project.

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20040621.html

Suze Ingram said...

Hey Nicholas,

Thanks for the link. This is a great article and Nielsen has some great reports focusing on intranets.

The biggest question in my mind at th e moment is how to best support this group of 5,000 people...

Ross Hill said...

I would suggest you need to get them involved in the design of the thing so that they feel ownership of it when it is launched. Talk to the key influencers (that everyone else will listen to) and make sure those people are satisfied :)

Suze Ingram said...

Hey Ross,

That's great advice. Thanks!

Suze Ingram