I work for Canterbury City Council; a fairly traditional council in a fairly traditional district and I’ll be honest, I had a few concerns throughout the intranet project that we were going to be in for a tough time, in terms of adoption. I’m pleased to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Yes, there are some members of staff who ‘don’t like Facebook’ and who ‘don’t have time because they’re too busy’, but even those members of staff are slowly coming round to the idea of the tool being something that can increase productivity rather than damage it – one naysayer has even started a blog.

Why a new intranet?

Our intranet was pretty old and broken. It was basically a collection of pages, serving all staff the same static content. The navigation was awful, the search didn’t work and if you were ever lucky enough to find a document, there was a good chance that it was an old version.

We designed a survey and had several working groups with staff, asking what they liked the least and what they would want from a new system.

It was clear that the major frustrations were around the search, being able to find relevant and personalised news and information quickly and having multiple passwords for different sections. Those frustrations formed our primary objectives.

We went through a lengthy procurement process and eventually purchased Interact.

Leading up to launch

We wanted to engage staff from the beginning so right at the start of the project we asked our senior management team to appoint one member of staff from each service area to represent their departments in helping to shape iCan. The representatives, who we later named the iCan cheerleaders, were so enthusiastic – they did everything that they were asked in quick time. They were often chasing me for updates rather than the other way around!

They really wanted to be involved in such an exciting project and were instrumental in it’s success – cascading information to their teams and pulling together lists of service specific requirements.

Naming our intranet

We ran a naming competition and received 109 ideas (wow), from there we shortlisted our favourite five and asked staff to vote for their favourite. iCan was my least favourite (although my opinion has changed now, see below), but it was the run away winner.

Creating the brand

iCan was a challenging name to work with and we were initially struggling to brand it. Eventually we agreed on a ‘dotty’ concept, where the dot symbolises the dot on the ‘i’. This also gave us scope to start thinking about a mascot (called Dot).

We were keen to steer away from the official corporate look and feel so decided against the council’s logo and used the palette to create something quite refreshing and uplifting.

The layout of the homepages were designed with the iCan cheerleaders and work really well with the branding. I’ve had so many nice emails from fellow Interact customers on the Community, which says it all really.

Everything you need for an awesome intranet launch_current homepage

We ran various other campaigns, in the build up to launch, for example a ‘guess who?’ competition called ‘in the dotlight’ and we had some transparent sticky dots made up with different messages (iCan connect, iCan search, iCan collaborate) to reinforce the brand and drive engagement around the building.

We launched on 13th May 2015. We got in early and put a ‘getting started’ leaflet and a coaster on the desk of every member of staff – leaflet also had a tear off slip with a voucher to receive a free drink with a demo in the canteen.

Everything you need for an awesome intranet launch_iCan leaflet1

Everything you need for an awesome intranet launch_iCan leaflet2

Everything you need for an awesome intranet launch_iCan leaflet and coasters

We ran demonstrations all day, on and off site, and were impressed with the turnout. The iCan cheerleaders also had balloons and signs around their desks to indicate that they were there to help.

Everything you need for an awesome intranet launch_iCan demo

To give staff confidence from the outset, we created a launch video and user guide which we placed on the homepage:

Everything you need for an awesome intranet launch_launch homepage


iCan user guide

Dot is the mascot of iCan. We wanted to promote him as a friendly, knowledgable character, who was there to help. We’ve also created a Q&A forum on iCan called ‘ask Dot’ where members of staff go to ask questions about the application. So far 33 threads have been created on the forum and Dot has answered each question within an hour of it being asked.

The most important thing is that iCan is used and used much better than we expected. There are currently 25 active personal blogs, forums and microblogs are being used, team sites are growing (only recently rolled out) and we’ve had some wonderful feedback around the search and navigation. Our next step is to look at how we could personalise it a little more and promote the collaborative features.