Please tell us about how you created an enterprise or business solution that keeps usability at its core while still effectively meeting business needs.: 


Great experiences win, keep, and produce loyal customers. The consumer sector knows this – just ask Disney, Virgin, or Zappos.

But what about internal customers—employees & contractors? Who takes care of them?

At Citrix, we took a proven design process – one we use to design and build consumer products and services – and turned our focus inward. 

Tasked with a wholesale redesign of our intranet, we used proven UX design best practices to build a user-focused experience that boosted employee productivity and happiness at Citrix.

Here’s what employees are saying:

“This is the best looking and most intuitive intranet I've ever seen.” – Laszlo U.

“Great interface with quick easy access to critical information!!!” – Harihara S.

“Great job! I actually found a Citrix benefit today that I didn't know existed!” – Rebecca H.

Our Approach

To create an intranet that would give employees a top-notch consumer experience, we found that these four keys to success were critical.

1. Sketch a compelling experience vision

Our vision defined what the site would be and do for employees – from the employee’s perspective. Articulating our vision forced us to think clearly about how our intranet would solve important user needs, and gave us a strong platform to pitch our idea to management later on.

2.  Get support from the top

Once we articulated a compelling experience vision, it was time to sell it. Getting C-level buy-in was a key factor in up-leveling our project and securing the funding we needed to be successful. This meant getting the strong support of our CEO, which we were fortunate enough to do. Our CEO shared the vision with his Executive Leadership team, and then with the rest of the company at a quarterly all-hands meeting. This was key to getting visibility for our project and hitting the road with lots of momentum. That momentum carried right through the launch of the site.

3. Involve employees and stakeholders early

For a big project like ours, it was important to constantly show our momentum, and to involve employees and stakeholders early to ensure we would have their support to keep pushing forward. We did this in a number of ways:

- Social project management – We used a homegrown social project management tool called Podio to post wireframes, gather feedback, and manage ongoing tasks. This gave stakeholders visibility into the project and demonstrated our progress.

- Lots of prototyping – We involved our stakeholders in an ongoing prototyping project. Prototypes showcased draft designs and allowed stakeholders to provide feedback and be involved in the design and ideation process from the get-go.

- Curated content – Stakeholders were empowered to design the draft architectures for their respective site sections and curate real content to be used. We then used these drafts during the design experimentation process. This was a critical step in engaging our stakeholders in the design and ensuring their long-term support of the project.

4. Put the right people in charge

This was a big one. Most intranets are built by teams who have some, but not all, of the expertise needed to give employees an exceptional experience. To ensure we’d give employees the best experience imaginable, every stage of the project was driven by people with real world experience designing and building consumer-facing products and services. These folks used the skills they had honed in the field (user research, interaction and visual design, content strategy, agile development) to build an employee-first tool that met the needs of employees and the business alike.  

Lessons Learned

Having set ourselves up for success, we began to build the site. We learned several key lessons about how to get from a good plan to a great intranet.

1. Rapid, iterative prototyping is key

We didn’t just build one prototype; we built several. Prototyping was super helpful in:

- Quickly trying different experiences

- Keeping employees excited and engaged

- Getting to the best possible solution

2. The content revamp is critical

We learned very early on that our intranet revamp, like many others, was very much a content revamp. To tackle this challenge, we stocked our toolbox with the best thinking available on content strategy, including:

- Governance standards – Though governance is primarily focused on long-term content maintenance, we found it essential to think about this early on. Establishing basic standards ensured that everyone on the content team was thinking about the user experience over time.

- Writing guidelines – The voice and tone of our content reflected our brand, and was a key component of the end-user experience. Clear writing guidelines ensured a cohesive voice across the new site, regardless who was writing the copy.

- Design persona – Complements of Aaron Walter, the design persona framework articulated what the experience of the site would be. The design persona was for everyone on the team (not just the designers), and served as a powerful tool when making tough UX decisions and engaging with stakeholders.

3. Mobile first

While mobile access wasn’t our primary use case, we discovered through employee interviews that a handful of mobile use cases were critical. To address these, and to keep our design clean and focused, we took a mobile-first, responsive design approach. Going mobile first forced our information architects, designers, writers, and developers to focus on delivering content in the simplest, most intuitive way possible.

4. Agile keeps things moving

An agile approach was key to getting the project done on time and within budget. Agile was especially helpful in keeping our non-development stakeholders (HR, IT, Legal, etc.) engaged by breaking down the project into bite-size tasks and making collaboration a priority.   

The Results

We launched the new intranet in early 2015 and saw immediate results. In just the first two weeks of going live (to 9,000 Citrix employees), the site saw over 250,000 page views, and a 16% drop in Support calls.

Bottom line – employees love it:

“Love the look, feel and experience of Backstage. Very cool site! Simple, easy to use navigation and so very contemporary!” - Lucy C.

“Very well done, simple, easy to find, and of course fast! Thanks Backstage team!!” – Paul B.

“This is GREAT! The site is well done, fast, and easy to use. Love it.” – Derek C.

“I love Backstage. You guys did a wonderful job! YOU ROCK!” – Jaina H.

“Wow! Backstage looks AMAZING!! Great job to all who made this incredible endeavor happen!” – Kathy W.