In the fourth of our planning your new intranet videos, John explains how online ‘card’ sorting can help discover the navigation structure that suits your people. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more.
One of the first things you define when designing a new intranet is the navigation, what information sits where. We decide first on the top level items, then the second level, and so on.
How well the navigation is structured will have a big influence on the success of an intranet. Therefore, rather than just guessing and hoping we get it right, we like to test early on with real users and make sure that our navigation really does make sense. This can all be done before any of the site is built using a technique called tree testing.
What we do is give the user two things. First, a piece of information that they need to find on the intranet. The second thing is that we actually give them the top level of the navigation. The user then has to click on the item in that navigation that they think will contain the piece of information they’re looking for. And they do that then through the levels, until they reach the end of the navigation.
This is all done using online software which means that you can invite a large number of people to participate, and that gives you more meaningful results. This software normally includes analysis tools that allows you to see where people struggled to find the right information. Also you can see where people made the wrong decision and decided to backtrack. It’s best to ask users to try and find information that you struggled to categorise yourself. These are often the areas of most debate, and they’re the ones you need to find consensus on.