Many moons ago, I set up the UK Usability Professionals’ Association and also co-founded the Intranet Benchmarking Forum (IBF). At the time, usability was an established discipline coming out of the shadows, and links to internal communication and engagement were clear: It’s about the audience.
Usability has really come a long way in five years, let alone 25. Jakob Nielsen (love him or loathe him) has recently posted some interesting reading on the evolution of usability and intranets. The most interesting point to me, once again with an eye on employee engagement and internal communications, is the declining ROI of usability improvements. While the improvements are still more than worthy of investment, best practice has come a long way; people are adopting it; it’s harder to find a “competitive advantage.”
Just as in engagement and internal communications, today’s best practice is tomorrow’s hygiene factor. Yet even with the evolution of social media tools that some say have revolutionised internal communications and corporate stakeholder dialogue, much of the deployment of these new approaches follow the old processes; they are simply seen as “new channels”. The same debate occurred with intranets; revolution or new way to distribute information?
I wonder: is it actually getting harder to squeeze ROI out of our employee communication approaches, or are we just not able to get better solutions through the organisational treacle?