Begin with an intranet content audit to see what kind of content currently exists, what needs to be updated and what content needs to be created.
Use a spreadsheet to help identify and categorise content. Typically, the spreadsheet would include:
Department (HR, Sales, Graphic Design, etc)
Type (pdf, doc, etc)
Status (new, update, delete)
A content audit helps to identify content owners, find out what useful content you have already and lays the foundation for the next steps.
Step 2: Select focus group participants
Card sorting gives you useful insight into how your employee’s search for relevant information on the intranet. And, productivity increases when the company intranet reflects employees’ workflow, which is why identifying who will participate in your focus group is crucial.
There will be different types of content relevant to various departments and roles within your organisation. Having multiple focus groups with participants from every department and in various roles will help bring a well-rounded perspective to your IA.
If you have an existing intranet and you want to assess how effective the taxonomy is, the Nielson Norman Group says fewer than 15 people will tell you where the trouble lies in the IA. You can then use the same participants plus more for the focus group card sorting.
Ask employees from all over your workplace hierarchy; from interns to the CEO. If you have different locations, have each location produce their own focus groups to contribute. Now only does this help capture all perspectives but also encourages intranet engagement and buy-in later in the intranet implementation journey.
Step 3: Write your cards
Whether you’re card sorting online or offline, you’ll need to write out your cards to provide clear insight so your focus group can clearly identify what they’re trying to sort. Ideally, you should have at least 60 cards with a brief, one sentence description to clarify the card’s meaning. Avoid over-explaining which can influence participants decisions.
Holiday booking form: Submit to request time off or record an absence.
Clear desk policy: A policy to improve security and confidentiality of information.
Seating chart: a floorplan showing where everyone sits within the office.
With a card sorting software, you should be able to write everything into a CSV file and upload it directly to the program. Follow through with some testing to make sure it works smoothly. Offline sorting is more time consuming but can be done by the participants of your focus group.
Step 4: Get your participants involved
You have your cards ready, either written on cards or set up on your chosen software program. Invite your participants by email and either invite them on a specific date to a location where the card sorting will happen or include the link to the online version with a deadline of when it needs to be completed.
Step 5: Analyse your results
Once you have your results in, look for patterns in how people responded to the cards to figure out the intranet’s new navigation.
This exercise should answer the following questions:
How do your participants group the content?
What are the labels they use to describe those groups?
You’ll likely discover trends in the way content is sorted, especially within departments as they use a similar lingo within their teams. You’ll also likely find that some content is related to multiple departments that may require cross-linking, or it may even be the case that a specific piece of content is referenced is grouped in two different terms; this may require further research into how to better group it.
Step 6: Use your results
You’ve gone through the whole process of card sorting and now’s the time to implement it. Hopefully, this means you have a clear roadmap of how the intranet navigation will work and be confident it will be easier for everyone using it.
Every intranet continues to evolve for the duration of its lifespan; you will need to perform constant analysis to ensure that your intranet is both up to date and in harmony with your business processes and core requirements.
Keeping communication open between employees and the intranet team will ensure content is maintained properly for easy searchability and access. The resulting engagement and intranet usage will be well worth the extra work.