The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

, , , , ,

Employee Self Service – Lessons From Web Design

systematicHR Avatar

Information Architects put out a list of their top 50 websites and what factors made them successful. I particularly like IA’s tagline of “Interface Design is Brand Design.” As you think about your self service sites, understanding that driving adoption and branding at the same time is a key factor in overall success. IA puts forth five criteria for great design:

  1. Internet Marketing is a combination of Presence (how well is it pushed? How known is it?) and Self Dynamic (how well does it market itself as a product?).
  2. Interactive Content is a combination of Constructivity (is the content/service productively usable? Are the texts authentic? Do they incite to write? Are they leading to positive action?) and Uniqueness (are they genuine? Are they special?)
  3. Usability is a combination of Structure/IA (Are the contents organized in an understandable way? Where am I? Where can I go?) and the organisation of the User Interface (Do I understand where is what and why? Do I understand how it works? Does it do what I expect it to do?)
  4. Web Design is a combination of Typography (Is the text easy to read? Is the typography web adequate?) and Attention to detail (does the website care about the little things? Is it characteristic and delicate or just bold?)
  5. Online Behavior is a combination of Interactive Ethics (do the authors/owners have a positive open-minded attitude? Do they follow the basic rules of good manners?) and Democracy (Are they working towards a democratic open web or do they work only for their own pocket?) ((Information Architects, “The 50 loudest websites in 2006 and what made them successful.” Retrieved from on December 29, 2006.))

When it comes to employee and manager self service, it’s more about change management than internet marketing. Really, how have you pushed your employees to go to the web for tasks as opposed to other alternatives like your call center, their manager, or local HR representative? Here, marketing really means change management and self service adoption rather than actual internet marketing.

Again, we’ll need to put a twist on “interactive content” to have it make sense in HR self service sites. At the core though, usability is fundamental to any employee and especially manager self service tasks sine manager tasks might be more complex. When we look at things like performance evaluations, these process flows should be not only intuitive, but also should have the ability to pull data from various sources in the background, unseen by the end user. A manager shouldn’t have to go looking for factors that feed into the performance evaluation, they should already be presented there.

Usability in my mind is addressed in interactive content. What I think IA is getting at there is really the UI design. When I’ve looked at great sites before, tasks were often accessible through multiple links throughout the site. We all know that different people think differently and that an employee who want’s to update their dependent information on-line could go to benefits, personal information, address, or any number of other options. Catering to the majority is not always the right move as 51% leaves 49% confused. However, there’s a delicate balance between serving a healthy majority versus web overload.

Web design I think is generally covered in UI. Again, I think IA is trying to get at something else here, and I think it’s more generally in the topics of branding and communications. First, branding should be careful to look at the smaller details and ensure that everything is not only thoughtful but consistent across the site. In a tight integration with site branding, communications should ensure that things are understandable, especially if the organization crosses multiple regions, countries or continents.

Lastly, on-line behavior is really about governance between the multiple partners of a site. Increasingly, we don’t have employee and manager self service sites anymore. More and more we’re talking about portals that are shared by all parts of the organizations. How content is delivered and coordinated between parties is a huge factor in successful design and how usable a site ultimately is.

Tagged in :

systematicHR Avatar

2 responses to “Employee Self Service – Lessons From Web Design”

  1. Usability in my mind is addressed in interactive content. What I think IA is getting at there is really the UI design. When I’ve looked at great sites before, tasks were often accessible through multiple links throughout the site. … Read more here: systematicHR

  2. Tom O'Brien Avatar

    Good stuff here – and not much deliverd on in HR Technology land. I describe it like this:

    “A good HR site should be like going to Amazon”

    – It personalizes to you
    – Anything you need to complete your transaction is no more than one click away
    – You always know where you are
    – Links to more information *contextually* available
    – Clean appearance/layout
    – It behaves like a website should

    Users expect all of the above and are disappointed when they don’t get it.

    Tom O’Brien