Best Intranets 2013

CI-Nielsen_Norman_GroupThe Nielsen Norman Group have just revealed their 10 best-designed intranets of 2013.

As always the results reveal useful pointers as to what currently goes into making the most effective intranet sites, some of those we found most interesting include…

1. Great Intranets Require Years to Create – from inception to launch, on average, the process lasts for 42 months—or about 3.5 years. The average for the 2013 winning designs was 27 months, or about 2.3 years.

2. Smaller Companies Are Leading the Way – the data seems to indicate that it’s getting easier to create a good intranet and it’s now within the reach of many smaller organizations who have more limited resources.

3. Team Sizes Are Still Growing – although organization size has been decreasing, the average intranet team size is increasing.  It’s not possible to piece together a first-rate intranet that informs and motivates employees and increases productivity and sharing unless you have the staff to design, develop, deploy, write, manage, and govern. To make a great intranet, you need adequate people resources. It’s not fair to ask a tiny team to take on an endeavor as great as designing and managing an intranet, even if you are “simply deploying” an out-of box solution.

4. Outside Consultants Play A key Role – eight of this year’s 10 winning intranet teams use outside consultants. Many of those consultants served in development roles (with SharePoint, in particular), but they also worked on design, development, usability research, planning, project management, and scheduling. External agencies or independent consultants provide targeted expertise—that is, skills that intranet teams don’t need permanently on hand—and add credibility to employee insights.

5. Content Authors Should Be Involved Early In the Design Process – the best intranet teams involve people from around the organization from the inception of the new intranet project. This ensures that employees from varied teams, offices, and cities describe their needs and way of working. Winning teams this year met with content owners and writers very early on, so they could relentlessly cut unused content, edit older content, give feedback, and have adequate time to migrate, test, and optimize.w

6. Ongoing Feature Trends

  • mega menus,
  • video channels,
  • beefed-up personal profile pages in the employee directory,
  • personalized homepages and sections

7. New Feature Trends –

  • featuring the organization’s feeds from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social sites on the home or news pages.
  • including filters in the UI to help users hone in on the right information set.
  • offering actionable links in people search suggestions, including most relevant information and actions such as emailing, calling, and bookmarking the contact.

8. Mobile Optimization Is Paused – growth has simply paused in the mobile intranet area. Common barriers to mobile design entry for intranets include:

  • data security concerns,
  • difficulty of choosing a platform,
  • lack of resources to create and maintain the design; and
  • uncertainty about whether to implement a full feature set with a good mobile user experience or an app for particular tasks.

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