Intranet Design Annual 2018: Review Part 2

by | Feb 13, 2018 | Reviews

In Part 1 of this review I set out some of the trends and themes from the Executive Summary of the Nielsen Norman Group Intranet Design Annual 2018. In Part 2 I am considering the ten case studies, which this year are

American Medical Association (US) SharePoint/Office365
Archer Malmo (US), WordPress
Capital Power (Canada), Office 365/Bonzai
Delta Air Lines (US) SharePoint Online
eBay, Inc. (US) Custom CMS/ElasticSearch
GSK (UK) SharePoint 2013
Maple Leaf Foods Inc. (Canada) Office365 Online
PKP Energetyka S.A. (Poland) SharePoint 2013
Travelers Insurance (US) OpenText
UN World Food Programme (Italy) Drupal 8

For each I have added in the core technology platform as this is always the first question that one intranet manager always asks another intranet manager, followed quickly by a question about the team size! You may have to guess what sectors some of the case studies come from but in the end it does not make much (if any) difference –  employees not customers make the decision on quality.

The depth, consistency and clarity of the profiles (usually 30-40 pages) continue to amaze me. This requires the company to devote a substantial amount of time to providing the NNg team with information and screen shots, and then immense diligence of the NNg team of Kara Pernice, Amy Schade, and Patty Caya in converting this into a well-structured profile. It is therefore impossible to summarise the individual case studies but that is not the value of this report.

The benefit of acquiring this report is that it will give any intranet team a great many tips and tricks that could be worth considering in the constant attempt to improve the user (including contributor!) experience. Of particular value are the screen shots. In presentations to a conference these flash by more quickly than a smartphone can capture but in a print format they can be discussed in detail by the team. The participating organisations are very generous in terms of how little information is excluded and how much of the real story is presented in the text.

As with Part 1 I am disappointed with the level of information provided on the search application. The total number of words in the case studies on search is just under 1000, because I took the trouble to count them. Most of these words are just descriptions of what is offered, with no assessment of search in relation to browse as an overall user experience.

At a more strategic level the tables that shows the progress of the project and the governance structure will be of considerable value in ensuring that the expectations of a senior management team can be addressed. Both intranet and search managers suffer from colleagues who think that application development is just an overnight task for the IT team. If only!

In my view the best way to use the Intranet Design Annual reports is for the intranet team to work through them and annotate the items that could be of relevance. This may be easier with a print version of the report. The value is probably even greater to a solo manager as it gives them the information they need to be confident they are on the right track, stop them going down an intranet black hole and help make a business case for the additional resources an intranet always needs. After all if an intranet is the responsibility of a single person what happens when they go on vacation, or leave?

I’ll say it again; at $248 for the individual volume and $488 for a group license these reports represent excellent value for money. If you pick up just ten good ideas from this 470 page report that works out at $25 each. If your organisation does not regard this as a good investment …….!

Martin White