Intranet Personas: The How-To Guide and Benefits

In simple terms, personas are fake characters. So why do organizations rely on personas to create better products and experiences? Empathy.

Personas allow teams to think empathetically about situations and problems. This focus on empathy empowers decisions that help real people. Intranet personas apply this same logic. By creating employee personas using data and context, intranets become more useful and practical.

Here’s a guide on the what, why and how of intranet personas.

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intranet personas guide

What are Personas?

Personas are fictional yet data-driven characters. Modern-day Platos call them archetypes, meaning a form believed to embody the fundamental characteristics of a thing.

They’re used whenever a product or service needs to appeal to a large, diverse audience. Netflix fuels their recommendation engine with personas. Retailers use them to sell products.

What are Intranet Personas?

Intranet personas are a composite of employee characteristics. Enterprise HR teams use employee personas to drive decision making about policies, benefits and to manage change. Intranet personas apply this practice to software. Communication, HR and IT teams use them to increase intranet adoption, expedite adoption and improve the employee experience.

What Intranet Personas Are Not

Personas are not meant to represent employees on a one-to-one basis, they represent a larger group of users. For instance, employees on the communication team in the US and in Europe probably share similar goals, pain points and tasks when it comes to their work and technology suite. These employee types morph into one persona to make the process effective and manageable.

When creating personas, do not include every possible detail. They are detail-oriented with informed narratives but too many details complicate the process. For example,

Helpful: Employee X checks the intranet almost every morning to see if their co-worker or manager posted an update.

Not helpful: Employee X logins to the intranet at noon each day immediately after the marketing meeting. Soon after they grab their third cup of coffee and say hello to Janice in finance.

Four Types of Intranet Personas

Persona creation relies on user research, data and objectives. The Interaction Design Foundation describes four types of personas. Think of them as an evolution, from basic to advanced.

1. Fictional

These personas rely on assumptions and educated reasoning. With a lack of data, these personas get teams thinking about user needs and expectations.

2. Goal-directed

These personas add in the critical element of, what is the user’s goal? Employee goals are easier to identify if an existing intranet solution has been in place or research is completed.

3. Role-based

Adding clear roles is a must-have for successful intranet personas. The employee experience is becoming more personalized to match our daily lives. Experience and expectations can vary greatly between employees so role-based decision making is essential.

4. Engaging

Engaging personas put everything together. Armed with data, goals and roles – teams can assemble a more complete employee picture. These personas consider the user experience of intranet users, and can be used to make intranet design decisions.

Building Personas

What does an engaging, empathetic intranet persona look like? Here’s a breakdown of necessary elements.

Name & photo – A name and photo seem unnecessary, but this practice allows teams to memorize their persona collection. It’s much easier to think from someone else’s perspective when you have a name and face in mind. Some companies use alliteration to help with retention such as “Milo the Marketer.”

Duties & responsibilities – Collect each employee’s projects, directives and owned responsibilities. Not all of these will relate directly to the intranet, but it helps complete the picture.

Specific tasks – Drill down to specific work tasks. Examine how tasks might be aided by an intranet solution or hindered by a lackluster platform.

Pain points – The pain points are the communication and collaboration challenges that employees face every day. It could be too much email, too many meetings or taking too much time to find information.

Bliss points – The reverse is just as important, identify what intranet features would make it easier for employees to do their job. Software tools, helpful management or all-hands meetings might be on the list.

Use cases – Use cases are tied closely with intranet usage. Some employees might be knowledge sharing with knowledge base content while others might be more concerned with getting top-down communication from leadership.

Technology level – Determine how comfortable employees are with technology, specifically web applications. This is especially important in industries such as manufacturing and retail where employees possess skills not related to SaaS tools or are hired on a seasonal basis.

Access point – Desktop vs. mobile, at home vs. at the office. These factors drive decision making about intranet features and design.

Frequency – How often employees log onto their intranet solution will depend on their job type, engagement level and other factors. Make note so improvements can be made.

Narrative – Lastly, a short narrative writes a story with the data. These short descriptions align with real users by presenting a persona’s needs, wants and expectations.

Intranet Persona Examples

Here are some examples based on an enterprise consumer packaged goods company with retail stores. Each persona has unique needs and expectations.

Informing & Validating Personas

Proper personas require proper data. There are several methods for collecting and managing that data.

Human Capital Management (HCM) software – Enterprise HR teams use HCM software to collect, manage and track employee data. These tools provide insight into items like demographics, average tenure and availability. Along with more specialized data such as performance history, technical skills and career interests. This data serves as the foundation for persona creation.

Employee surveys – To go beyond employee personas and create intranet personas, collect information through surveys and polls using relevant questions. For example, ask questions about what employees use the intranet for, their likes and dislikes, or what workarounds they’ve created. This data can be collected anonymously or by department to build persona profiles.

Interviews – Go further with unstructured data by conducting focus group exercises or 1-on-1 interviews. This process is the most labor intensive, but gathers useful and impactful information. Some employees will be more open in an interview setting than any other format.

Intranet Personas: The LumApps Advantage

LumApps has a dedicated team to help customers create or improve intranet personas. It’s a team focus. This makes the implementation process run smoothly, expedites user adoption and increases employee engagement.

Additionally, LumApps provides the capability to provide targeted communication to persona types through a feature called groups.

  • Groups allow intranet managers to manage content visibility and permissions for various employee types.
  • Groups can be created based on traits from employee directory profiles, such as department, technical expertise, location, etc.
  • Track analytics on each set of groups to monitor changes over time and measure the success of new initiatives.

These features help LumApps customers make adjustments based on employee data, surveys and interviews.

When it comes to intranet persona creation and implementation, there are Lumies with decades of experience ready to help. Reach out to speak with an advisor or for more resources.

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Milton Herman
Content Writer


Employee Engagement Employee Experience Internal Communications Intranet

Published on

July 9, 2021