Summary: What is a killer intranet app? Examples of Killer Apps. What is an Anti-Killer app?
Previously we discussed intranet usability as it relates to your navigation, Jar Jar Binks and your content. Having banished Jar Jar from your intranet, you will be relieved that he also had no place in the latest Star Wars saga. The role of comic relief went largely to the plucky little ball robot, BB-8. He became the killer app, if you will, at the heart of the new series. Whether he was carrying the map to the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, or making people ponder how it is he can roll about without his head being flung from his body, he captivated audiences of all ages.
Every intranet needs that killer app. The one which your people love. The one your organization cannot function without. But what if people are not even bothering to visit your intranet? Why should they use it? Have you given them the killer app that drives employees to your intranet?
What is a Killer App?
Merriam-Webster defines a killer app as:
“a computer application of such great value or popularity that it assures the success of the technology with which it is associated”.
It is that app on your intranet which assures the success of the intranet as a whole. The feature that in itself makes the intranet worth using. The droid carrying the plans to find your Jedi Master. It can be a seemingly insignificant application like a world clock, or it can be large and complex, like a document management system. Whether simple or complex, the application fills a general need in the organization.
The killer app can also be an unusual, interesting or entertaining application that employees simply enjoy using. It does not necessarily have to help an employee in their work, but can simply be fun. Recipe Exchange, Quick Polls, Lunch Menus and Employee Recognition are all examples of these sorts of apps.
Examples of Killer Apps on the Intranet
So what are some of these apps that are so useful that they drive user engagement? Usability experts, the Nielsen Norman Group, have done extensive studies around intranet usability.
They found that the following were the most common intranet killer apps1:
What other apps?
Each organization is different, so many of the killer apps fell under the “Other” category. Some of the “Other” applications listed included:
Many organizations also listed smaller applications and features that users love. Among these popular apps were:
What’s Your Intranet’s Killer App?
Being able to pinpoint your killer app is key. This knowledge can help make not only the app all it can be, but also to create other apps like it.
Interestingly, the NN Group found that intranet managers often identified different killer apps than those noted by users. They posit that the disconnect comes because often managers are particularly proud of a cool idea or design, or have spent a lot of time and money around developing a feature that they want to be a killer app but it is not getting over with the users. Possibly the users didn’t need the feature, didn’t like the way it was designed, could not find it on the intranet, or they could accomplish the same goal by other means.
This does not mean a particular feature cannot become a killer app. Here are some steps you can take to get that killer app:
- Find the killer: Determine what your users consider to be the killer apps. Check site usage stats, run surveys, observe users on-site.
- All killer, no filler: Analyze what makes your killer app so good. Take what you learn and apply similar traits to other apps.
- If it ain’t broken: Don’t change your killer app unless you thoroughly test proposed changes first.
- Keep it killer: Maintain your success. Make sure the app is easy to find and quick and easy to use.
The Anti-Killer App
So you have what you believe should be your killer app, but it has not been adopted by your users. Could something be standing in the way of your ultimate success? Could it be the evil opposite of the killer app, the ANTI-KILLER APP!?! (dun dun DUUUN). I was going to throw in a reference to the bounty hunter droid, IG-88, or maybe one of those assassination droids but that might be stretching the Star Wars references a bit too much. Almost every organization has alternate ways users can get at least some of the information or accomplish tasks available on the intranet. Before going into competition against an ingrained process, carefully consider whether it is worth doing so.
Something as basic as distribution of company news can cause conflict. It seems like a natural for an intranet site. But if employees are accustomed to receiving up-to-the-minute news directly to their email, going to the intranet and seeing outdated or stale news will not bring them back.
Sometimes even great apps like an employee directory or document repository can conflict with existing processes. Users may be used to going to Outlook or Lotus Notes for information on other employees instead of the intranet. Likewise saving files to a shared drive may be so ingrained that they don’t think to look at the repository on the intranet.
Before you add a feature to your intranet which may conflict with an existing process, consider the following:
- Will the intranet process be better than the existing process?
- Will having information in multiple places cause confusion?
- Which process is more cost-effective?
Whether your intranet is rolling along like a lovable astromech droid or is languishing on some desert planet on the outer rim of the galaxy, it can always use improvement. Have you found your killer app? Let me know by posting your comments below.
1Pernice, K., Schade, A., McCloskey, M. & Nielsen, J. Intranet Usability Guidelines. Vol. 9: Managing the Intranet and Teams (3rd edition). Fremont, CA: Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved September 4, 2015, from https://www.nngroup.com/reports/intranet-management-and-teams