Delivering the corporate intranet on mobile devices is perhaps the most effective initiative you can take to increase intranet usage.
Not only will the intranet become omnipresent, always available to users in any situation. Also, you’ll make the intranet accessible for new employee groups that have not been able to fully benefit from the intranet before, such as frontline workers.
As an extra benefit, you’ll have new methods available, like mobile push notifications, to motivate staff to go to your intranet. However, designing a mobile intranet requires special considerations for the medium you’ll be delivering your service through. Here, we’ll go through three central points you really should consider when adding your intranet to mobile devices.
1. Mobile app vs. responsive intranet
A responsive intranet can be viewed from different devices and screen sizes. A mobile app, on the other hand, is a separate application that is downloaded and installed on smartphones and tablets. Responsiveness is definitely good for usability. But, even though a responsive intranet has the advantage of being instantly available in mobile browsers, a mobile app, however, has at least seven important benefits:
A mobile app spares users from typing on a small screen
Typing the full URL of the intranet in a smartphone’s browser can be troublesome. Even if users take the initiative to save the intranet as a shortcut, it’s not ultra-intuitive to navigate to the intranet from a mobile browser. When users first have the mobile intranet app downloaded to their smartphone, they can find it effortlessly, just like they’re used to navigating to any other app on their smartphone. An act we are all trained so proficiently in, the behaviour it is automatic. Also, depending on your security settings, the app can spare employees typing in their intranet login every time they open the intranet on their phones, making it simple for users to open the intranet and start using it.
A mobile app can engage with push-notifications
App notifications are a proven tool for engagement. A mobile app tool can help lead your users to the intranet. Both for reminding employees that they have the intranet app there on their smartphone, and for calling direct attention to news or other important content.
A mobile app can offer offline access
Even though the world is very wired, mobile intranet users can come in situations where connection to the internet isn’t stable. You might have staff working in emergency situations, on the ocean, or just in areas with a slow internet connection. With a mobile app, you can allow offline access to some content and functions and enable employees to report back from the frontline, from any place in the world.
A mobile app delivers a clean version of your intranet
A responsive intranet offers a one to one representation of the desktop intranet on mobile devices. While this has some advantages in terms of recognition for the employees who are very used to using the intranet on their desktop (and this might not be a large percentage of all employees), it most likely will cause confusion.
A mobile intranet should offer users content and navigation especially optimized for use on the go. As you can custom design both navigation and content for the mobile experience in an app, a mobile app allows for this.
A mobile app enables pages to load faster
Users really don’t want to wait for pages to load. A study performed by Google found that longer page load time drastically increases the likelihood of a visitor bouncing from a mobile site.
If a mobile app is well designed, it’s remarkably faster performing on a mobile device than the responsive desktop version. Thereby, improving usability significantly.
A mobile app is more secure
Offering you intranet in an app, instead of in the mobile browser, will enable you to make the mobile intranet available through mobile device management (MDM). In this way, IT can fully secure the intranet content and, also, remove the app from particular phones e.g. in situations where an employee loses his or her phone.
Users fancy apps
Mobile apps are not just the future of mobile usage, it’s also very much the current trend. The app share of total mobile minutes lies between 80 and 94%, depending on country. This means, users spend the absolute vast amount of their time on mobile devices in mobile apps.
Delivering your mobile intranet as an app will make your intranet available in a way that users like to consume content and use tools on their smartphones.
2. Content and navigation
When you first designed your intranet, you probably considered scenarios for intranet usage and asked yourself how the intranet could help different groups of employees in their workday.
It’s a good idea to repeat this exercise when you design your mobile intranet, as a mobile intranet can be used in whole new situations.
We see mobile intranets being used by field staffers during the workday, when people check their phones at home at night, when staff transport themselves to and from work using public transportation, during lunch, and even during a workday in the office alongside the desktop intranet, perhaps motivated by app notifications.
The needs for information and tools differ in these situations. For example, people generally like to check news when they commute. Field workers need tools readily available to either retrieve vital information, report from the field, or be social with their colleagues using social features and messaging.
You can probably add situations and needs to the list that are unique for the way employees in your organization will use a mobile intranet.
Understanding the circumstances in which different staff groups in your organization will use a mobile intranet and what they will need from the mobile app in these situations can help you design the optimal mobile app.
Not only the way the intranet is used is different for a mobile intranet. The phone as a medium has restrictions the desktop doesn’t. In the context of a smartphone, people are limited by the small screen. Typing in long texts when reporting would be troublesome and timely, as would a heavy intranet navigation confronting users with many choices and levels of navigation.
With a simple navigation designed for the mobile experience, people can quickly retrieve the information and tools they need.
You can help users further by considering the trouble of using small smartphone keys. Offer a list of options or type-ahead for filling out forms from the mobile app and enable users to report back with images, video, and/or audio.
Considering and carefully designing the content, tools, and navigation of your mobile app is worth the effort.
Delivering confidential content on employees’ private smartphones obviously composes a risk.
This risk can be almost eliminated by offering the mobile intranet as an app through mobile device management (MDM) on managed corporate smartphones and by asking users to log in every time they open the app. However, often strict security can affect usability negatively.
If users must log in to the intranet app every time they open it, it creates a barrier between users and the intranet. On the other hand, if employees can freely download the intranet as an app from Apple Store or Google Play on their private smartphones, they might feel the intranet is more present, fully integrated with all the other apps they use to live their lives.
An alternative, or supplement if you like, to strict security around the app availability, could be to restrict the supply of content in the mobile intranet. In this way, you can ensure highly confidential content is not accessible from the mobile intranet.
It’s about finding that elusive balance between user friendliness and security, and, of course, remain in line with company policies.
The original article was published here