The start of the Intranet New Year is marked by the arrival of the Nielsen Norman Group Intranet Design Annual 2014. This year the case studies come from Australia, Austria, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Qatar and the United States. They are included in our intranet case study database. Just sort on date. The amount of time and effort that the NNGroup team expend on selecting, reviewing, writing and publishing these case studies must be immense. In my view I don’t really mind at all if they are not the ten best intranets in the world. NNGroup can only review the intranets that are submitted, and there is quite a heavy load on intranet managers to provide the information and deal with the follow-ups, as I know from working on the Intranet Innovation Awards.

Each of the profiles extends to around 30 pages of why and how the intranet was developed, with quite a bit of focus on governance and the skills of the intranet team. Clearly mobile was on the agenda this year, along with agile development and social media integration. If you will excuse my bias the degree of commentary on search provision is weak and needs attention in the future. I think I learned useful tips and tricks from every profile, and many will make their way into intranets I work on this year. There are 144 screen shots and I’d pay the single user price of $248 just for these!

The team of Kara Pernice, Amy Schrade, Patty Caya and Jakob Nielsen provides a synthesis of the themes which emerge from the case studies, recommendations for intranet design and comments on the intranets that did not make it. These three sections all have value but some of the statistical information about trends over the years is not grounded on a firm foundation of consistent information. Presenting the average team size as a percentage of employees to four significant figures (0.138% for reference) is not helpful.

My disappointment continues to be the published format. There is no index and no section bookmarks so you have to scroll down the screen. There are not even hyperlinks from the contents page to each of the profiles, and the summary of trends would be so much more valuable if each comment was linked to a relevant page. All you get is a pdf version of a printed report over 300 pages long, full of valuable information but with no index. Usability score is 1 out of 10. I’ve been commenting on the format for at least five years now. I’d rather have it published a month later and usable for the purpose for which it has been developed, and that is to inspire other intranet managers to do as well, and ideally better, with their own work. Another week of work by a first rate copy editor and indexer would transform its value, and probably sales revenue!

Martin White