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comment What is the best way to approach usability testing an intranet?
If all your are doing is user sensing and reporting on the problems, I would say 5 people is too small. I did a redesign for an intranet once, which also included 10 weeks of concurrent development. We interviewed 40 people over that time period - a few for eack weekly each iteration. And yes, having many diverse people is great, but also having three of one specific user type helps you confirm which issues are biggest for who. Hope that helps! Good luck!
comment What is the best way to approach usability testing an intranet?
If you looked at the documents I referenced, the whole focus is on understanding your users to make the best choices on development. I assume that's what you mean by 'testing.' Aadaam, who also answered, is on the same page. If all you want to do is have people click on buttons you built, and make sure they worked, then you are asking your users to do the wrong thing. That's the job of the development team, to validate their developed features work. The hard part of 'testing' is knowing what to build in the first place...
comment How can I communicate linear progress through a series of states with color?
I'm leaning more towards saturation of a single hue, rather than multiple colors for the concept above. I agree Alex. The challenge that I may not have communicated well in the original question is to display what percent of projects are in what state. With that said, a single bar may not be perfect, but multiple bars with the filled in circle as you describe could be better.