How to create intranet personas for better employee experiences

When approached thoughtfully, user personas are a valuable tool for creating effective employee experiences.

Often the end user will not see the direct outcomes of a persona workshop. But to create intranet personas for better employee experiences, they need to feel valued and listened to. This is why it’s important not to skip this step when developing an intranet. You want an intranet that will be used, and that is guided not just by the commercial goals of the business. It needs to reflect the needs of the user, and be prompted by the way people work productively.

Developing personas helps us avoid conceptual discussions on what specific users may want or need. They allow us to bed down the requirements based on evidence, not opinion. So how do we build personas that our users can really connect with?

Be specific

While we always aim to respectfully treat each employee as an individual, it’s fair to say that intranet users can likely be ‘grouped’ by job function – take note: not by role. For example, HR and Finance might sit under an “operational” persona type. Sales and technical personas are often at odds with each other, creating a healthy push/pull between generating revenue and delivering functional projects. Marketing and content might be a little more nuanced, since these roles attract creative types, but also need to count on statistics to measure success.

This is why when you create intranet personas for better employee experiences, you need to capture more than one. But don’t forget that the more personas you create, the more likely they are to become a distraction. Between 4 – 7 personas is ideal, depending on the size of your organisation.

Across the personas you create, deliberately look for commonalities between them to increase your chances of nailing usability. Focus on common roles, tasks, behaviours, challenges, goal, motivators, demographics and limitations.


Woman interviewing a man for intranet personas

There is no better way to create effective personas than to interview a selection of employees. It’s important to gather information from a variety of roles and personality types, so you gather an accurate cross section representation of your real life employees. You could ask about:

  • Job roles and goals

  • Personal motivations

  • Locations

  • Tenure with the organization

  • Levels of technical savvy

  • Frequent daily tasks and used applications

  • Frequently referenced information

  • Barriers to completing common work or points of frustration

  • Physical and hybrid environment conditions

  • Familiarity with the organization (structure, management, business strategy)

How do we get the intranet experience to match the personas?

Two words: User journeys.

Once you have an intimate understanding of your personas, it is easier to predict their behaviours and any blockers to it that you want to overcome.

Personas have a diminished return if they’re not matched with user journeys. You can create these in much

the same interview style approach that you used to create the personas to begin with. It may feel too obvious, but actually sitting with an intranet user (either on your current intranet or even as an improvised scenario) and noting how they would interact with different assets and content will give you a truly holistic view of how your intranet should behave.

Some questions to ask might be:

  • What would you navigate to first at the beginning of your day (Email? Support tickets? News feed?)

  • What kind of tools would you benefit from having shortcuts too?

  • When you interact with the tools you need for productivity, is there anything missing?

  • Are there any tasks required for your role that you feel could be simply automated?

  • Are there any ‘noisy’ elements to your current intranet that distract you from starting off the day with a clear headspace?

By observing the way the employees begin their day, every day, you’ll be in a better position to understand the obstacles they face. This will inform decisions about intranet design and make a real difference to productivity.

Gather feedback

Not sure if you’re hitting the mark with your personas? There really is only one way to find out. ASK.

But don’t just ask. If you are serious about great employee experiences, you’ll refine your personas and journeys based on the feedback you receive. We can’t say it any more plainly: If you deliver an intranet that doesn’t meet user needs, you’ll have wasted time and money, and you will frustrate your teams. And few of us can afford to roll a dice on assumed outcomes.

Don't be tempted to ignore personas

Sometimes we think we know our business and our staff so well that we can make assumptions about work behaviour. Creating personas could be viewed as a wasted effort. But it would be foolish to ignore the essential role archetypal, representational personas play in good design.

User personas are one of the lesser-used design tools for creating user-centered intranets. Creating focal points for intranet designers that are based on facts is integral to making sure that intranet projects are successful. After all, an intranet is a place for your people to thrive, so ask them what they need.

Propelle can help you design and build a SharePoint intranet and create intranet personas for better employee experiences from the very first step. Contact us to discuss your requirements!