Intranet Design Annual 2012 – profiles of 10 excellent intranets

The subtitle of this report is The Year’s Ten Best Intranets, but this report is more than just very detailed profiles of ten  intranets.  The NNGroup have been running this competition since 2001 and so can place trends and developments into a long term perspective. What marks out these profiles is that they are not written by journalists but by NNGroup consultants Kara Pernice, Amy Shade and Patty Caya (together with Jakob Nielsen himself) who know both where to probe and where to highlight excellence in innovation and user-centric design.

This year the winners are

  • CenturyLink Business (USA),
  • Everything Everywhere (UK),
  • Genentech (US),
  • LivePerson, Inc. (US),
  • Logica (UK),
  • MAN Diesel & Turbo SE (Germany),
  • NCR Corporation (US),
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro (US)
  • Skanska (Sweden)
  • Staples, Inc. (US).

This year many of the winners are somewhat smaller than in previous years. As the report notes, technology offerings might contribute to the success of these smaller winners because as a very long-term trend it’s getting easier to implement designs with good usability, bringing quality user experience within the reach of ever-smaller companies. One notable change has been the increase in size of intranet teams to around 1 per 1500 employees from a fairly steady level of 1 per 3000 employees for a number of years. This is a welcome commitment from the award winners, and probably a critical success factor in gaining this prestigious award.  What is slightly surprising is that none of the award winners has made much progress in support for mobile devices, but the reasons for this are well argued by the authors of the report.

As well as highlighting the reasons why these ten organisations won an award this year there is a list of 14 areas where many intranets are still failing to adopt good practice in design, content and usability. A good checklist for your own intranet that might help you make a business case for investment!

Each profile is around 30 pages long, with in total 187 screen shots.  Overall the production quality, attention to detail and value for money ($248 for 431 pages and ten profiles) makes this report a must-buy even for small organisations. As an intranet community we are indebted to the Nielsen Norman Group for the effort it devotes each year to this unique and invaluable publication.

Martin White