Intranet for those with intellectual disabilities addresses the multiple challenges of users

Observing users complete tasks drove the usability team’s approach.

HuisVanboeijen: inclusive design, for literally all - Logo -

Dutch organization Huis Vanboeijen supports 700 independently living children, youth, adults, and elders with intellectual and/or physical disabilities, along with several hundred living at home. Thus, the organization’s intranet has to be usable not only for its 1,600-member workforce, but also for its clients, their families and caregivers, many of whom may have cognitive challenges when undertaking intranet tasks that most users would find routine. Its determination to create an intranet that anyone can use has won Huis Vanboeijen and its partner triptic first place in the “Usability” category of Ragan’s 2016 Intranet Awards.

Working with the design agency triptic, the organization undertook “Design Thinking” sessions with users to assess the different ways they think about and use information. As the organization notes, ‘Simply asking, ‘What do you need?’ does not work!” The results of these sessions led to a prototype that asked clients to perform tasks like updating their timelines with a photo. 

The designers sought to tune the intranet fully to the perceptions of clients, realizing that what made sense to some users wouldn’t make sense to others. The results included the robust use of visual icons, functionality across a variety of types of tablets and other considerations. 

The organization has reported greater satisfaction among clients, nearly all of who have signed in and are sharing photos, updates and other content on a daily basis. The screenshots from the intranet reflect the thinking—along with user engagement throughout the process—that went into making an intranet usable by those seeking to be part of society while living with challenges that make that goal difficult. 

We are especially proud to honor Vanboeijen and triptic for their success. 

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