A 400K User Intranet Strategy

client: undisclosed
duration: ~15 months (ongoing)
role: UX lead, conduct all research, some wireframing
earliest international call: five am


This is an internal project and remains under NDA. Screenshots are abstracted.

One of the largest manufacturers in the globe needed a new unified intranet. Each region, and sometimes each country, had their own intranet and set of tools. This was a global intranet portal with internationalization, localization and across brand lines.

As the UX Director for Northern Ground, I came up with the UX Strategy for the portal. This included developing and conducting a variety of research, managing large global calls, and developing wireframes under unified design style. The client’s project team was distributed and completely remote from my location.

  • Design Workshop
  • User Interviews and Preliminary Research
  • Information Architecture and Tree (Navigation) Testing
  • Wireframes and Design
  • International, Multilingual, Distributed Team


Design Workshop

The design workshop was the largest workshop I’ve ran to date. We had over 20 participants across 3 days. Participants flew in from China, Italy and Brazil. We broke into smaller groups, then came together to pitch our ideas. During the workshop we did a number of activities, including: analyzing the current state, dream state visioning, stakeholder mapping, sketching, wireframing, and a card sort to get us started on the main navigation.

Due to the size of the group and complexity of the project, I created a completely custom workshop. In addition to my experience and workshops that Northern Ground previously ran, I researched best practices from IDEO, IBM, Design Sprint (Original and Google Variants), Stanford d.School, Lego Serious Play and Lean UX. I card sorted ideas and segmented them appropriately into Gather Insights (inspiration, learn, observe); Figure Out What to Build (ideation, reflect) and Prototype (make).

  • Card Sorting
  • Design Workshop Research
  • Custom onsite workshop
FCA Workshop

Workshop attendees voting on wireframes

Formative Research

I analyzed the current various portal systems with analytics and a heuristic evaluation. I looked at NNG’s top intranet winners over the years to look for intranet best practices that would be relevant to FCA. From this, we were able to determine functionality and features that we needed to test further in user interviews and requirements gathering.

  • Analytics
  • Heuristic Evaluation
  • Current State Review

User Interviews and Preliminary Research

I conducted a series of user interviews to find out how I could best enable people with the new intranet. Based on these user interviews and the design workshop, I create a series of personas. For each persona I determined top needs and concerns about the project.

From the user interview and preliminary results, I was able to make an informed research plan to take us up to beta testing.

  • User Interviews
  • Personas
  • Research Plan

One persona group and their concerns

IA and Tree (Navigation) Testing

Main navigation was critical to this project. Every portal and intranet in the current system had completely different navigation and IA structure. I came up with several navigation items based on affinity diagrams. To test the navigation, I set up split testing across three navigation types in multiple languages, for a total of nine different variations. In the results, I was able to compare between languages and versions to determine the most effective navigation patterns.

  • Card Sorts
  • Affinity Diagramming
  • Multivariate and Multilingual Tree Testing with Optimal Workshop
Results Table from Tree Testing

Results Table for one Persona

Wireframes and Design

I wireframed main pages iteratively, getting feedback from the global team along the way. One we had enough wireframes designed, I collaborated with Northern Ground team members to create a widget design system for the client to use on future pages.

  • Wireframing
  • Design System
Wireframe for HR

Sample wireframe from HR area