An employee intranet redesigned to expedite top tasks — and regain lost productivity.
View the site Proprietary. (The VeriSign intranet is available only to employees.)
Background VeriSign's employee intranet needed a major tune-up. The site was popular with employees — most used it daily — but its structure and navigation were outdated. The content and applications available on the intranet had evolved, and the interface no longer facilitated what employees needed to do. VeriSign estimated that they were wasting $3 million a year on lost productivity.
  The goal was to redesign the intranet around the employees' most common tasks.
The Project Usability tested the existing intranet. "First do no harm" was one of my guiding principles. Employees spent a lot of time using the intranet. The last thing I wanted to do was to force them to learn a new way to do something that worked just fine.
  So the first thing we did was to usability test the existing intranet. I was able to see what was working and what wasn't — and often why. I also heard directly from employees their frustrations.
  Interviewed employees. Analyzed Web statistics and search logs. I followed up the usability test by interviewing employees to find out what they used the intranet most often to do. I then analyzed the page view statistics to see what paths they followed and which pages they visited most. I also used the statistics to ferret out red herrings — misleading paths employees abandoned before they got anywhere.
  I examined the search logs to uncover what terms employees searched for most frequently. I conducted a card sorting exercise to find the organization and the terminology that were most intuitive to employees.
  The picture my research provided was clear: there were fewer than ten tasks that employees most often went to the intranet to do.
  Interviewed stakeholders. Promoted a design based on evidence, not opinion.
I interviewed stakeholders and discovered they had very definite opinions about how employees ought to be using the intranet — whether or not their opinions matched the facts. I promoted the notion that the redesign needed to be based on evidence, not opinion. I made sure that every design decision I made was based on the facts that I was gathering. I also planned to validate every design decision in another round of usability testing.
  Built a prototype. Validated the design through usability testing. Created page templates. I built a prototype and we tested the new information design, interface, and organization with users. The new home page was defined by task modules, each of which gave employees instant access to the features they used most often.
  I also designed a complete set of page templates and identified a standard set of page elements. The templates made it easy for the content owners throughout VeriSign to post their content. The templates also established consistency throughout the site.
  Created a design guide. Finally, I documented the entire design in a 100-page wireframe guide. The guide provided the specifications needed to execute the design.
  It also stated the principles behind the information design — and listed the rules for adhering to the original intent of the design.
  The guide gave VeriSign everything it needed to make sure their intranet remained consistent and well-structured as it evolved.