Want better intranet adoption? It’s not as hard as you think.

It’s no secret that adoption is one of the biggest challenges plaguing corporate intranets today.

And if your intranet is powered by SharePoint, that’s even more true.

Planning and implementing a roll-out or “re-design” of your corporate intranet is a major investment and — as of 2017 — takes an average of 1.4 years1 to complete.

So wouldn’t it be nice to see that investment pay off? Well, we’ve got good news for you. It can. And it’s not as hard as you think.

Apps and Tools

According to research done by the Nielsen Norman Group, apps and tools are a key driver in enterprise portal adoption.

As stated in their report, “applications attract users and keep them coming back.”

Honestly, that makes pretty good sense because apps and tools help people get things done. Even as consumers, we’re constantly searching the Internet and app stores for better apps, and when we find a good one, we get excited and tell everyone we know.

But hidden in another paragraph is this little gem:

When done well, even basic tools (such as skill-based employee directories) can be a key driver for user satisfaction and increased portal adoption.

In that one simple sentence, the word satisfaction reveals an even more compelling force behind increased adoption.

The Compelling Force: Dopamine

What is dopamine?

Scientifically speaking, it’s a neurotransmitter. Colloquially, it’s often called the “reward molecule.”

Dopamine is responsible for some of our strongest human feelings and desires — mostly ones that fall into the “cravings and addictions” category. The reason is it makes us feel good. Or more to the point, it makes us feel satisfied.

If you’re looking for an example, think back to your last Facebook post or tweet.

According to research by the American Marketing Association, every time you like, share, or post something on social media, your brain gets a “dopamine hit.” In other words, you get a short-term “emotional high.”

And that emotional high is mildly addictive, making you want more. So you keep liking, sharing, and posting things because it makes you feel good.

As human beings, we have a basic emotional need (even craving) to feel good. Social media plays right into that.

Short Bursts of Happiness = Increased Adoption

If you want to increase adoption for your intranet or enterprise portal, you need to give your users a feeling of satisfaction (dopamine hit) that will keep them coming back.

And according to the the Nielsen Norman research, apps and tools are a great way to do that.

You may already be surfacing innovative apps and tools in your intranet, and if so, then you’re ahead of the curve. But if not, it’s time to do some serious brainstorming.

While usage and analytics data can offer some helpful insights here, we’ve found — though experience — that the best approach is to actually talk to people.

Find out what apps and tools they use daily to get things done. Learn what their frustrations and challenges are. It’s amazing how many intranets fail to gain adoption because — ironically — of a lack of communication.


In the end, understanding how to increase adoption isn’t all that hard.

Intranets and other enterprise portals need to be marketed just like public-facing websites. And while that marketing may take a different form and target a different audience from your public-facing site, the concept — appealing to basic human needs and emotions — is exactly the same.

So now that you’ve got a plan, it’s time to put it into action.

Do your research. Talk to your users. Create a series of thoughtfully-crafted experiences for them which leave them feeling satisfied and wanting to come back for more.


1 according to the Nielsen Norman Group article 10 Best Intranets of 2017