Applying Design Thinking to SharePoint: Making Intranets Work Better
The Government relies heavily on SharePoint to share information within its agencies. Sometimes SharePoint is just a documentation or vital records repository. Often, it is a hub of knowledge sharing for mission professionals.
Design Thinking takes a human-centered approach that agencies and organizations can apply to make their internal knowledge hubs more effective. Teams consider technology solutions and and business processes in tandem with the quality of the user experience. Applying the human-centered approach when designing SharePoint optimizes the use of intranets across Government agencies – achieving results from information sharing that were not possible before.
This approach looks beyond SharePoint sites and pages and, instead, focuses on the needs and wants of the organization and its users as a whole to inform SharePoint development. So, how can Design Thinking make intranets better? Teams can identify user personas and what they need from an intranet, and emphathize with each one to identify their key needs or where current functionality falls short. Then, developers build in line with the unique culture of the organization, rather than against it, which allows them to implement solutions that increase user acceptance and productivity.
Design Thinking is hands-on and ground-up. This means talking to your prospective users and asking what they really need and want. When you begin thinking about site structure and functionality, adopt the mentality of your users and devise an architecture that meets their needs and their way of working. Oftentimes, SharePoint intranets are a patchwork of functionality with no cohesion, making them difficult to navigate and use. This frustrates users, and limits information sharing.
Once the work begins, use Design Thinking to continuously prototype and test new ideas for the best possible outcome. A function, feature, or layout change may solve the problem, but was it the best solution? When it comes to the homeland or national secuity mission, going beyond “good enough” can positively impact the safety and security of our Nation.
Consider new ideas and different approaches to use SharePoint’s flexibility as an advantage – it naturally lends itself to the prototyping and experimentation in Design Thinking. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, try new things, or even re-think previously implemented solutions.
Every organization changes and evolves. Embracing Design Thinking in intranet development can reflect, promote, and inspire a human-centered focus to problem solving throughout an entire organization.