Delivering a BETA Intranet for Public Health England

Public Health England

We worked with BeDifrent and Public Health England to deliver a BETA Intranet which will allow their 5500 employees across over 70 organisations, based at over 10 sites to work more efficiently, build trust in the organisation, do their job anywhere and help make England a healthier place to live.


Public Health England (PHE) employ over 5500 people and are currently going through a large digital exemplar transformation with the Digital Workspace (Intranet) being the first of them. PHE employees rely on the Intranet to do their day to day jobs, including mission critical tasks that impact the lives of the public. Their current intranet has grown over time which has resulted in an increasing amount of outdated content. The UI was non responsive, and didn’t comply with accessibility principles. This made it extremely difficult for users to complete or even find the information they needed to do their job in a timely fashion.

"Over 2 days only 40 users out of 5500 used the intranet due to lack of trust in the content and frustration over the usability of the site."

- Discovery

Organisation VS User

Using the work that had been done in discovery and alpha, we engaged with stakeholders and users to create a prioritisation of organisational and user needs. The organisation (over 30 stakeholders) were clear that they wanted to focus on collaboration between employees. While this was identified as a user need, research showed that to implement collaboration it would take a massive organisational change to the way people worked.

We demonstrated, via user engagement sessions, that by meeting basic user needs of the intranet we can build trust with users and gain momentum for uptake of the Digital Workspace and increase the chance of the collaboration tool being a success.

Putting the users first

Using Wagtail CMS and a clear UI we showed PHE how we can improve the day to day work lives of their employees by implementing simple changes such as:

  • Developing robust search and filter functionality and improving their taxonomy.
  • Identifying the top tasks users perform on the intranet and turning them into a ‘How Do I’ page with quick links.
  • Implementing version control on all content heavy pages so users can start to trust that content is up to date and reliable.
  • Working with the content team to move away from PDF content in favour of on the page content, all accessible within the intranet.
  • Creating a clean, responsive and accessible UI whilst encompassing PHE’s brand.
  • Giving content editors the CMS tools they needed to manage and publish relevant and accessible content for users.

"The new intranet is a delight to use, you’ve done really well."

- Usability session feedback

User research showed us that by making these simple changes, we were able to make employees more efficient and give them the tools to help them serve the public. User research showed we could reduce the following:

  • Phone calls between employees.
  • Emailing and chasing content and information.
  • Time spent working with irrelevant content.
  • Printing and downloading intranet pages - circulating out of date content.

"The employee engagement with the Digital Workspace has be incredible, people are starting to talk about how much better it is to work with."

- User research team

Throughout Beta we constantly engaged with users and were completely transparent about the work we were doing. This led to increased user engagement with the new tool and more enthusiasm towards being involved with it. This resulted in VIX having the ability to start working towards meeting the organisational needs PHE outlined by:

  • Identifying key information that users should have on their profile to allow others to find the right people to collaborate with.
  • Developing the ability for groups of people to be made where they can create content and communicate with each other without leaving the intranet space.
  • Prototyping an integrated workspace where users can collaborate on documents, share files and work together.

What’s happening now?

The Digital Workspace is currently being tested with over 200 users across the organisation, with it being rolled out to more users each month. PHE are continuously redeveloping their content for the Digital Workspace and we are still providing ongoing support to further develop the service.

If you'd like to talk to us about designing an intranet for your organisation or would like advice about your current intranet get in touch at

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