Changing perceptions of a digital product before launch


The challenge

James Hay Partnership was about to release a new intranet to over 600 employees across many sites in the UK.

So far so good, except there was an intranet already in place, which staff were using primarily as a telephone directory.

There was also a belief that teams were too time-poor to get used to a new system.

Etch's behavioural design team was drafted in to enhance staff attitudes towards the new intranet, and get teams across James Hay using it happily.

“Why do we need a new intranet? We already have one!”

James Hay's existing intranet had a negative bias towards it. It was viewed as outdated, corporate and without the features it needed to be useful.

The bias existed because negative events are much rarer than positive outcomes. As a result, we as humans are expectant of positive events, but become more attentive of any negative situations that arise.

There was also an element of ‘banner blindness’ within the company. Many campaigns were being run internally at the same time, so whatever we came up with would need to stick out and stay fresh in the minds of those we were targeting.

So, we had two questions.

How do we approach the time-old business problem of introducing a new IT system to a time-poor team?

And how do we create a campaign to challenge their assumptions?

The approach

James Hay had already conducted research by including key influencers from all departments in the process. This ensured staff felt their voices were being heard on big decisions.

By talking to these influencers, James Hay uncovered the various pain points and how staff use the existing intranet. Each pain point then needed to be addressed to show how the new intranet would improve the lives of its users.

A psychologist, a designer and a banana walk into a marketing department…

Before diving into the design work, we compiled a timeline and plan of action for the release, based on the five stages of technology adoption. This allowed us to gain momentum and build interest in the new intranet.

The working environment was also a key factor. How would staff interact with this campaign?

We had from the time someone walks through the door until they get to their desk. If they're on the ground floor, that's no time at all. But if they work on the fourth floor, they have a little more time to process the information.

The likely first point of interaction is about 8:55am, when someone is tired and not particularly concentrating. They probably won't have had their first coffee of the day and could be rushing to their desk.

We needed to keep things simple and play to a person's basic instincts: their emotions. 

Research into how individuals recognise and interpret sensory stimuli shows that our brains see shapes first, colours second and content last. This processed in the mid-brain, where all of our emotions come from. 

So we applied this theory to our situation: as an employee walks through the building on the way to their desk, they would notice a first poster and carry on.

When they encounter a second poster, the shape has changed. This causes them to glance again, taking in the information because of its short and sharp nature.


The outcome

Feedback from James Hay staff demonstrated 'the things that are driving users bananas' - which proved to be the perfect inspiration for the team.

Design lead Matt took inspiration from designer Tom Actman's previous typographic fruity drawings, and began to write user quotes over bananas.

After a little digging (and many more bananas), we uncovered an old Honda advert that perfectly embodied the sentiment that James Hay wanted to convey to staff.

We needed a tagline that captured the sentiment of the Honda advert, while communicating how the features of the new intranet would keep staff from going bananas.

“Don’t go bananas, try the new intranet”

This worked because it acknowledged that people weren’t particularly warm to the idea of a new intranet. It told them that the new system was there to help, through a tongue-in-cheek approach.

With this angle, it stood out among the many matter-of-fact internal campaign posters that were already on the walls.

Combining the ethos of the tagline along with real quotes allowed us to create a series of feature-focused, problem-addressing strap-lines for each phase.

The release ran in three phases.

These included emails from James Hay's CEO, posters and a desk-drop, each at different points over a 3-week period. During this time we addressed the assumptions and concerns of staff, while allowing a new IT system to be introduced into a time-poor team with minimal barriers to adoption. 

James Hay was able to utilise design as powerful tool as part of its change management process. 

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