June 29, 2015

Event: Strategies for Intranet Success

Our Mission

Over the past two years SmallWorlders have made it our mission to proselytise the intranet community about the nitty gritty of engagement: what to measure, how to measure it, and how to benchmark it. As well as, of course, how to achieve it.

In 2014 SmallWorlders ran a number of briefings with over 50 intranet managers, communication heads and decision makers from some of the UK’s top companies in order to explore intranet engagement. These sessions we uncovered a number of common challenges organisations are facing, not only for measurement and analysis, but in gaining buy-in from stakeholders, driving uptake amongst employees and understanding how new tech is changing the way people interact with their platform.

Engagement Event

This year we wanted to address these challenges with key insight and tips gained from our own experience. This led to our March 11th and June 11th Strategies for Intranet Success events at Vanilla* in central London. The aim was for participants to gain a toolkit of strategies and processes needed develop an effective, highly engaging intranet.

Summaries and links to the event talks are below.


Kevin Cody

Managing Director at SmallWorlders



Dan Jones

Head of consulting at SmallWorlders

Intranet Engagement Strategy

Dan Jones, SmallWorlders consultant and engagement mathematician kicked off the show with a presentation on how to build a successful adoption plan. Dan incorporates theories from the social sciences in order to explain why many intranets fail after the initial burst of life around launch, namely:

Mapping these theories onto one another we end up with the basis of a strategy for adoption and engagement:


The conservatives and the sceptics are unlikely to visit the site unless we make it essential for their basic needs. Pragmatists may visit the site once or twice, but need compelling reasons to return, to become regular users. The enthusiasts and the visionaries need little encouragement to engage, but we should leverage their enthusiasm to lead the way for other users.

Watch the video of Dan’s talk to explore these ideas in more detail:

Slideshare: Intranet Engagement Strategy

Simon Jones

Head of Design and UX at SmallWorlders

Designing for Engagement

Using the SmallWorlders Roadmap as a guide, Simon looked at the steps in an intranet project before design even begins.

Simon’s discussion looked at the marked differences between options of stakeholders and the lived-experiences of users.

Examples from recent client research projects were used to illustrate his points.

Such as where user research ahead of the redesign of an online budgeting tool led to not updating the tool – as we initially thought would be the case – but rather to provide a welcome pack for users to help with their offline data-gathering prior to even accessing the tool.

Slideshare slidedeck: Designing for Engagement


Wedge Black

Freelance intranet and communications specialist
Beyond the Technical


As a writer and content creator himself, Wedge is very aware of content’s potential to overwhelm. Wedge’s talk explored how we can make our content both useful and usable to contributors across the business.

Page layout and content design are important: how we present the words can be as critical as the words themselves. We need to avoid overload by helping people choose what to read. In the world of intranets we’re not aiming for the click-bait engagement strategy – our headlines and summaries should be simple and clear, primarily serving to let people know what NOT to click, and helping them quickly decide what not to read.

Wedge also outlined the specifics of what makes an effective headlines, and good web writing in general.

If you’re interested in learning more, download:

Guide to creating useful and usable intranet content

Also see:

Slideshare slidedeck: Beyond the Technical


Dr Nick Southgate

Behavioural Economics Consultant

The surprising science of human motivation

Nick spoke about how our actions and motivations aren’t always guided by logic. Instead we’re more often guided by the results our brain achieve with the least amount of effort.

We gloss over detail because our brains are used to taking shortcuts to achieve ‘fast thinking’. For example, you might have thought our name was SmallWonders, not SmallWorlders, but it wasn’t until you saw the words juxtaposed just now that your brain engaged in slow-thinking and clocked the difference.

If we can resolve a problem through fast thinking, we will always tend towards this, We only have limited capacity to engage in slow thinking, as the energy required for slow-thinking tasks can leave us exhausted.

Nick provided two slides to demonstrate this. For the first, we were asked to run through the words and say which were in upper case and which in lower case.


For the second we had to repeat the same exercise, but this time with our brains forced into ‘slow thinking’ by requiring a small degree of concentration:


If we wish to really engage our intranet users, we must aim to remove the need for slow thinking from our intranet’s processes and interactions.

Slideshare slidedeck: The Surprising Science of Human Motivation


*We’re told the venue can also be hired for exclusive product launches. Which explains the preponderance of blue uplighting, decoratively decaled glass panels and VIP booths throughout. We managed to dial down the blue lighting eventually, but apologies to anyone who turned up early and thought they had found themselves at a SmallWorlders’ club night.


Club Intranet. Oonts Oonts.

One Comment on “Event: Strategies for Intranet Success

Odessa Winston
August 10, 2016 at 1:51 am

These are really wonderful ideas. Thank you! Some are still new to my knowledge and one I would definitely share in our company. I particularly liked the idea of Simon Jones and Dr Nick Southgate. Here is another article I found on the internet that talks about how can intranet be exciting:


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