You’ve probably noticed your employees aren’t reading your intranet’s content.
They’re gathering information from other sources, such as email, Google or their managers.
“One-third of the searches on LinkedIn are by people looking for an expert on something within their own company,” says Peter Coffee, vice president of strategic research at Salesforce.com.
What’s the problem with intranets?
For most employees, traditional intranets aren’t an effective or enjoyable way to access information.
Compare abysmal intranet user numbers with those of Tinder, the wildly popular dating app that sees more than 10 million active users each day. Tinder presents users pictures of nearby singles and a simple choice: Swipe right if you’re interested; swipe left if you’re not.
There’s obviously a big difference between Tinder and your corporate intranet, but the dating app offers some lessons. Tinder is popular not only because it’s a dating service (there are plenty of those), but also because of the specific, innovative experience it provides to help users achieve their romantic goals.
Here’s what you can learn from Tinder’s design to give your employees a better content experience:
1. Go mobile—now.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Mobile matters. Last year (2014) was the first year Americans spent more Internet time on their phones than on their personal computers, and that trend shows no signs of slowing. Today’s employees expect easy access to important content wherever they are.
However, it’s one thing to give employees intranet access through a mobile Web browser, and another to design a content experience specifically for mobile. Just because your content is on a smartphone or tablet doesn’t mean your employees will spend more time searching for it. They might have even less patience.
Part of the reason Tinder is so successful is that it was specifically designed for mobile. Tinder only recently came out with a less popular desktop version. These days all content starts on mobile and then goes to PCs.
2. Swipe right for better content.
In a traditional corporate intranet, your content lives in a specific place, and employees have to look for it. Not so with Tinder.
Tinder continually presents new singles to users, allowing them to decide whom they like with a simple swipe. Though I’m not advocating that same design for your content, your content could benefit from the same mentality.
Employees should be able to easily push and pull the content they need, curating their own content experiences. To do this, add links that jump to different pages or tap-and-reveal tips that offer extra context if employees need it. Your employees can decide what content they want instead of endlessly searching through your intranet.
3. Put everything in one place.
Some companies have turned to social media as the solution to the corporate intranet problem, with mixed reviews. Whether or not this approach works for your organization, it doesn’t allow you to keep all your content in one place.
As Tinder does, your app should have everything in one place so employees can easily accomplish what they want. Of course, building an app takes time and resources you may not have. Consider investing in an off-the-shelf branded app that allows you to deploy your content securely without a lot of technical or IT resources.
4. Make sure content is always fresh and relevant.
Every time your employees take out their phones or tablets, the latest and most relevant content should be waiting for them. They shouldn’t have to ask an administrator to update their app or, worse, dig through their inbox for the most recent PDF.
To ensure your employees always have the content they need, adopt a solution that uses the cloud, enabling you to sync your changes across all devices.
5. Study users’ behavior to learn what they want.
To continually improve the user experience, Tinder “conducted studies to try to glean more insight into users’ behaviors.” For example, it discovered that “men are nearly three times as likely to swipe ‘like’ as women,” reports The New York Times. Although there is a line between gathering helpful data and infringing upon privacy rights, under the right circumstances these discoveries are helpful for both Tinder and its users.
In the same way, to continue providing a great content experience, you have to know how employees use your content. With content analytics, you can understand what they read, how often they come back or how long they stay on the page. You can then have a better understanding of what you should edit, remove or add. It’s a win/win for your content and your users.
The bottom line
Some content might have to stay behind your intranet’s locked doors, and that’s OK, but to deliver an enjoyable content experience that helps employees do their jobs, rethink what your content could look like.
When you draw inspiration from your employees’ daily mobile behavior, you’ll probably see them come around more often and stick around longer.
Paige Schaefer joined Inkling in June 2014. She loves all things content, whether books or blogs posts. Currently, she is Inkling’s content marketing coordinator. Paige graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, with an English degree. A version of this article originally appeared on the Inkling blog.