Designing Navigation for Your Intranet

Good intranet design strikes a great balance between function and form. With modern intranet platforms, it’s easy for everything to look good on a cosmetic level. However, if your layout goes against intuition, your employees will find it frustrating to use. Designing navigation for your intranet requires an understanding of how your employees currently work and how they think. 

Straightforward navigation determines how successful your intranet will be. Removing broken links, streamlining pathways, and simplifying buttons and forms goes a long way to increasing productivity. If employees spend less time thinking and navigating the intranet to find what they need, they have more time to finish tasks. 

Regardless of whether you’re setting up a new intranet or migrating an existing intranet, you need a plan of attack. 

An overview of navigation design

When designing navigation for your intranet, you should be operating under three goals: 

  • User experience – how do your employees feel when using the intranet? Is it a smooth or frustrating process? Do they feel engaged or lost? 
  • Function – does it perform critical jobs? Is it easy to find vital information in a minimal number of clicks? 
  • Design – is everything where it should be, according to Jakob’s Law? If a new user were to log on, are their eyes drawn to the most important buttons first? 

How you structure your information will dictate your navigation design. Essential information and files that are accessed daily should be upfront on your home page. Information that is used less often should only be a few clicks away – the fewer the better.

Designing a navigation system

Just like a geographical map, a site map creates a comprehensive picture of what your intranet looks like. When designing this map, it’s important to get the right people in the room. Most intranets have general pages that can be accessed by employees across the organisation. However, there may also be separate sections for departments, either out of convenience or for security reasons. 

For this reason, it’s a good idea to get someone from each department in the room. They’ll share their team’s feedback on the existing structure and identify key pages they want to keep/fix/need created. In collaboration with their colleagues from different departments, they can decide what should exist on the home page and the best pathways off it. Not only will this build a concise intranet, it creates an intuitive environment where each department’s needs are being met.

Tips for designing your intranet navigation

Every organisation will have a unique approach to navigation design depending on their specific needs. However, there are certain boxes you must tick for it to be effective and user-friendly. 

  • The overarching goal should be to ensure users can move through the intranet seamlessly and intuitively. 
  • Choose colour schemes/shapes/fonts that even new users will understand and recognise. 
  • Use specific descriptions for pages that makes it obvious what content a user will find there. 
  • Keep sensitive information compartmentalised, and only allow access to users who need it. 
  • Create sections for each department so that they can easily navigate to information that is relevant to and used by them. This will also complement content governance.

Team up with the intranet experts

We offer our expertise in SharePoint intranet to local and global organisations, designing intranets that create more efficient and productive workplaces. We specialise in building user-friendly SharePoint intranet platforms, making sure your journey from A to B is a straight line. Let’s start collaborating.