Can you measure the ROI of your intranet design efforts?

According to Nielsen Norman study of the return on investment for usability, the "usability" as such, costs were between 8% and 13% of the projects' budget. Based on Origami customer research, 90% of respondents agree that user experience design phase in their intranet design has significantly improved project results. Even though the numbers point towards a growth in amount of resources spent on user experience design, there are still many organizations wondering how can they articulate the value to their project sponsors. In this post, I'll share what do we measure to articulate the benefits of the usability design stage.

What do we measure

Intranet design phase for us is typically 1 or 2 weeks worth of time depending on the size of the customer team. Most of the activities are pretty prescribed, so we have a reliable timeline of when things conclude.

Most commonly, the areas we design include:

  • Content Design (includes information architecture, and related technology features)

  • Branding and user experience

  • Processes, including governance and authoring

Here are the most common questions we want to know after the process:

  • How did the participant find the design process? (Very Satisfied ... Dissatisfied)

    • This probes for overall satisfaction and prepares them to think about details

  • Did the participant find they had strong influence during the design process? (Strongly Agree or Not)

    • This helps us understand if everyone felt heard.

    • It's especially important when participants join remotely or have different levels of experience. We don't want them to feel left out.

  • Has the functionality they expected at the beginning of the project been captured well in the final product?

    • This helps us understand how did we manage participants expectation and were there surprises.

  • Does the new intranet support them as content owners/contributors?

    • This helps us understand whether whether authoring and management roles have been accounted for in our design

  • New intranet supports needs of my department/team (Strongly Agree or Not)

    • This puts participants in a mindset as representatives of their groups and helps us understand how did we do overall in the eyes of their team (vendors, external contributors, contractors etc)

We also ask 2 open ended questions to get more anecdotal evidence:

  • What's your favorite part of the process

  • What didn't go well

How do we measure

We chose the combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to do this research. This allows to measure not only whether the process was helpful but exactly how can we improve the experience.

Sending an intranet design survey similar to below is usually the best way to get started. Be sure to include all of your workshop participants which would include your sponsor, content representatives, and other key stakeholders.

More participants these days are joining remotely and common design methods need to be constantly upgraded to cater to a hybrid group of participants.

We prefer to send our surveys anonymously.

Here is an example of a typical survey results we get. In this study we used Office 365 Forms and shared the link anonymously.

intranet survey results.PNG

When do we measure

We send surveys right after the user experience design phase has concluded.

Typical phase lasts between 3-6 workshops and design sessions. While some of the questions are future looking, we're interested in the impact the design phase has on the participants while it's fresh in their mind.

On average we get 50-70% response rate if sent right after the design sessions have concluded. The response rate drops off the longer you wait after the design process.

In Summary

Articulating ROI of your intranet design is key to bringing attention to why the project was successful and taking into account feedback from your key stakeholders. By knowing what went well and how you can improve will help you prioritize the next steps in your intranet roadmap and help it bring more value.

Hope this helps in your upcoming intranet design strategies. Post your comments below.

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Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky