Intranet Design Annual 2017

by | Jan 25, 2017 | General, Intranets, Reviews

The first thing that struck me as I scrolled through the 2017 Intranet Design Annual from the Nielsen Norman Group (all 490 pages) was the diversity of the organisations included this year. The featured intranets range from a small 150 employee tourism agency to two very large financial institutions and one of leading global IT companies. Something for almost every one. The platforms are equally diverse, and include SP2010, SP2013, Liferay, Open Text Web Experience Manager (ex Vignette) and two custom builds. It will be interesting to track the Goodwill Industries intranet on SP2010 as there will need to be a migration, and Bank of America uses the Google ESA for search.

The full list is

  • Bank of America (USA)
  • Encana Corporation (Canada),
  • Goldcorp, Inc. (Canada)
  • Goodwill Industries International, Inc (USA)
  • IBM Corporation (USA)
  • JetBlue (USA)
  • Kerry Group plc (Ireland),
  • Latvian Railway: (Latvia),
  • Santander Group (Spain),
  • Tourism New Zealand (New Zealand)

One of the features that I always welcome on the Design Annual is the extended analysis by authors Kara Pernice, Amy Schade, and Patty Caya on the trends that they see among the featured intranets. Almost all of them provide access to multiple applications, though often this is a result of evolution rather than intention. This raises issues of strategy and governance, and also the decision about what platform the intranet should be built on. It also requires some careful thought and testing around the home page. Personalisation is increasingly common and mobile is now so core to an intranet it scarcely gets a mention.

In some respects the term ‘design awards’ conceals aspects of the report which I find to be of especial interest, These include time lines for both the evolution of the intranets and the milestones of the project schedule. Governance structures are considered in some detail and there are good tabular views of the development and management team roles and the technology suites in the server room. This formatting makes it much easier to get an initial sense of the intranet before moving on into the detail. That makes me wonder if more about the key features of the intranet, and in particular why it was an award winner, could be presented on the first page, as well as (or perhaps even in place of) the teams involved. The reason for suggesting this that I think it would help to have this synopsis as you start to read the profile, rather than pick it up somewhat piecemeal as the story is told.

When (not if!) you purchase the report ($248)  you also get a ZIP file of all the screen shots as high-res png files, which is a neat idea. As I keep saying each year the value of this report is not to benchmark your own intranet.  Do not look just at the achievements but how they were accomplished, from user requirements through to specification and then to delivery, all within a very supportive governance structure. As with search, it is not about the technology but about the people. This report does not set out to describe the top ten intranets in the world,  but through telling the story of ten excellent intranets it should inspire others to set a much higher barrier for their objectives. This year I have blogged separately about the search implementations on these intranets, and Susan Hanley has written a very perceptive review in Network World.

The case studies have been added to our Directory of Case Studies, which now has almost 200 entries

Martin White