Social Intranet Tip – Get To Know Your Users Through Personas

Sean R. Nicholson

Sean R. Nicholson

Driving user adoption is one of the key challenges for any Intranet portal. One of the most effective ways to ensure that your users are getting the most of your Intranet is to ask them how they want to use it, observe how they actually use it, and either add/modify functionality to meet their needs or train them to use the portal better.

By listening to your users and understanding their needs, you can create user personas that group users by department and role.  For instance, you might be interested in developing a persona for new employees that helps you streamline the initial look/feel of the portal in a way that helps new hires find their employment forms, crucial new-hire information, and job aids related to their new responsibilities.

By creating a variety of personas for the different employee roles in your organization, you can consistently work to find new ways to present meaningful content and functionality to your users and ensure that they are leveraging the portal in the most effective manner possible.

A persona for a new hire might look something like this:

Ned NewHire

General Characteristics and Responsibilities:
Ned is brand new to the company and this is his first job right out of college. He needs to complete his W-2 documents online and should complete the New Hire Orientation eLearning class. He will also want to find information about how to enroll in company benefits, and a map of the various buildings on campus.

Key Intranet Impacts:
Ned will need to easily access online training, new hire information, and HR benefits information. As a result, it might be a good idea to set every new hires default portlet layout to include an HR portlet and a training portlet so they are prominent on the home page when they first log in to the portal. In addition, a portlet with links to relevant job aids and departmental information would help Ned understand his new responsibilities.

While you certainly don’t want to diminish the individual roles, responsibilities, and contributions that every employee brings to your social intranet, by creating some high-level personas, you can better understand how groups of employees might use the tools and how you could enhance your intranet to meet their needs.

Have you had success building social intranet personas? I’d love to hear how you accomplished it in the comments.

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