It's a lot of work for a project team to build an intranet, so getting to the launch stage is a satisfying and exciting milestone!
Plan for the launch of your intranet to both share the excitement with staff and increase user adoption of the new site. We've provided best practices below to get you inspired.
Get Users Involved Before Launch
Since an intranet is all about the users, it's important to get them involved at each stage of development. Ideally, they've already been involved in helping to create the site navigation.
As you get closer to launch, we suggest asking for volunteers from representative departments or areas, to assist with the final stages of the intranet project. Volunteers are generally pretty enthusiastic and engaged, and you can use their insights for several key functions:
1. Test the Site
After working intensely on an intranet, it's easy for project team members to inadvertently overlook things. Getting user feedback by pilot testing prior to launch can often reveal minor tweaks in functionality or content that will have a big impact on employees' daily work. Identify some key tasks, then sit beside a user as they perform the task and talk through their experience. If several users give similar feedback and it's fixable, you have a pre-launch opportunity.
2. Train Users and Give Them Access
Hold a training session with your volunteer crew to show the basics of how to move around the intranet, then give them access to the site. Get them to fill out their profile and post on their wall so employee-generated content is in place prior to launch. Having a network of staff already familiar with the intranet, who can reach out to assist newbies with the site after it launches, is a big advantage in terms of promoting initial engagement.
3. Internal Advocates
Identify your volunteers in some way (e.g. t-shirts, signs, button, intranet news item) so they stand out to staff as promoters and experts. Staff are more likely to seek their assistance since they're more convenient, and peer-to-peer communication is more approachable and effective.
Get Creative at Launch
Launching your new intranet is a significant and exciting achievement, and that excitement is something you also want to share with the users. Ideally, you can leverage that excitement to improvement user adoption and engagement right from the start.
The best launch promotions will depend on your organization's culture and project resources, but here are a few suggestions to get your project team thinking:
- make it fun!
- hold a staff launch event and serve cake (even better: send staff a 'save the date' and have the time blocked off in all staff schedules)
- give staff promotional giveaway items such as post-its, candies, or pens with your intranet name or URL - important when you're launching a new intranet URL
- create a launch video which explains project background and how the intranet will impact and improve daily work; this can be especially effective when staff and humor are included
- do a group presentation on how the project came together and the key goals, and walk users through the new site (and show the video); broadcast remotely to staff in other locations
- run a promotion which includes key staff tasks such as adding a user profile and photo, and posting on their wall; create a form for staff to click checkboxes for the activities they've done which allows them to both practice intranet skills and submit their entry to win prizes (most organizations are happy to budget at least a small amount for prizes)
- have a contest for staff to find a hidden mascot on various intranet pages as they work their way through key content; create a form as above for them to enter answers on where the mascot is hidden
Keep the Momentum Going
After the initial launch excitement has passed, it's important to continue to gently push towards making the intranet an integral part of daily work life. Here are some suggestions for your team:
- hold informal training sessions - with snacks if possible! - for staff to attend and become more comfortable with using the intranet and its features, ask questions, etc.
- allow staff to change their profile photos (provide guidance on appropriate photos with a Governance document), and set up a photo booth or have Communications staff take photos against a neutral backdrop; you'd be surprised at the number of people who don't have a recent, flattering photo without family or pets
- increase the visibility of the intranet by putting it on large screens in key locations in the workplace
- make the intranet available from home; learn more about externalizing your site in the Build an Extranet (Lockdown Guide) article
- create internal resources for those who will be adding content to the intranet, with how-tos specific to your intranet for consistency and ease-of-use
- check out more options in our Employee Engagement article