Employee-Driven Design: Part 5 — Search & Find

Any good Digital Workplace platform, like Microsoft 365, provides the power for searching, but unfortunately, that doesn’t guarantee users are going to find what they want. That onus is on the organization. Companies need to do their best at providing as much information as possible, while simultaneously making it easy for users to search and find what they need. The best way to do this is to include both a navigation and an intranet search bar in your workplace.

Ensure There’s No Outdated Information

First, the importance of content management needs to be stressed. For users, there’s nothing worse then hopping into your company’s brand new intranet, looking for something (like benefit policies), and finding outdated information. Trust is immediately lost and engagement suffers.

To prevent that from happening, there needs to be some kind of governance policy in place. Governance ensures that when new versions of documents are created, old ones are archived and removed from search results. No matter a user’s preferred method of looking for information — browsing using a site’s navigation, or through a search box — the displayed results should be relevant and the same.

Commercial vs. Enterprise vs. Intranet Search

In order to make sure your workplace search is set up the right way, it’s important to understand what types of results people expect to see.

  • In a Commercial Search… users are more willing to see results that they’re not expecting because it’s typically more of an exploratory search experience.
  • In an Enterprise Search…  you want search bots to be able to look everywhere across the site and find everything related to the query. Users know what they’re looking for, but know that they’re going to get some choices and may have to dig for it.
  • In an Intranet Search… you want the bots to limit their search results to intranet content only. Users know exactly what they’re looking for, and they don’t wanna dig for it. The want the most relevant results as quickly as possible.

In order to make your intranet search instance the best it can be, leverage metadata and tags to filter and customize results.

Want to read the rest of the  Employee Driven Design series? Check out Parts 1, 2, 3, & 4!

Have an Ever Present Navigation

Even with “Google” becoming a commonly used verb, browsing through a traditional navigation is still a common practice. Your IT team can use the same metadata and tags they applied to the search bar experience, to “nest” pages and create a site hierarchy. By default, the navigation isn’t persistent across Microsoft 365 applications, but it can, and definitely should be customized to be consistent. No matter where they are inside the intranet, users need to be able to figure out where to go next. Remember that a site’s navigation is built on top of information architecture, so that architecture needs to be clean, and tags and topics need to be properly utilized.

In the next part of our Employee Driven Design series, we’ll talk about the importance of making sure your intranet has mobile capabilities.

Topics: Digital Workplace Trends, Employee Engagement
Adam Levithan

Adam is a Principal at Withum and is a Microsoft MVP. He is a seasoned business strategist, SharePoint advocate, and information architect, focusing on designing information management and collaboration solutions leveraging Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 technologies.