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Nielsen Norman Group Announces The World’s 10 Best Intranets and Declares that Social Has Finally Come of Age in Intranets

It has been a long time coming and not without some resistance, but companies have finally fully embraced and now actually encourage their employees to get social on the company intranet, according to usability expert Jakob Nielsen whose user-experience research firm Nielsen Norman Group today announced the winners of its 14th annual Intranet Design contest. This year’s winning teams and their intranets are showcased in Nielsen Norman Group’s new 319-page report “Intranet Design Annual 2014: The Year’s 10 Best Intranets.”

“For the longest time, social features were either restricted to the company directory or pushed off into isolated areas. This year’s best intranets have moved social features out front and center, integrating them into content and even putting them on the homepage,” said Jakob Nielsen, principal of Nielsen Norman Group. “Including social elements as prominent features of the intranet shows employees that it’s okay to share, in fact encouraged and even rewarded.”

Many of the winning intranets included social features that encourage employee engagement, such as inviting comments and ratings on news articles and showing the number of comments made in a bubble to the right of the article’s title to indicate the interest level in an article. With subtle prompts such as “10 comments so far,” companies suggest that people can and should still comment on articles. The winning intranets further encouraged participation by making sure that management used the social tools, too, for example by micro-blogging about important meetings or organizational developments.

Demonstrating the effective integration of social and other design features into their sites, the 2014 world's 10 best intranets—in alphabetical order—are:

  • Abt Associates, a global research firm (US)
  • Air New Zealand, an airline (New Zealand)
  • Allianz Australia, an insurance company (Australia)
  • AMP, a wealth-management company (Australia)
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF), an international financial and economic organization of 187 countries (US)
  • Mayo Clinic, a not-for-profit group medical practice of physicians, scientists, and researchers (US)
  • National Geographic, a non-profit scientific institution (US)
  • Ooredoo, a telecommunications group (Qatar)
  • triptic, an online communications agency (The Netherlands)
  • WellPoint, the Medicaid division of a health care solutions provider (US)

These 10 organizations are headquartered in five countries and have an average of 11,600 employees. For the first time ever, four of this year’s winning intranets were previously recognized among the top 10 best intranets by Nielsen Norman Group. They are Allianz Australia (2006), AMP (2011), Mayo Clinic (2003) and National Geographic (2007).

Other trends to emerge from this year’s contest, and which are described in detail in "Intranet Design Annual 2014: The Year’s 10 Best Intranets” include:

Change management has emerged as a crucial part of intranet redesign projects: As an ever increasing number of employees become more engaged with their company’s intranet, it has become crucial not to spring new designs on them. People are quick to dislike something new, especially if they don’t expect it. The winning intranets went to great lengths to involve their colleagues in design changes, for example, one created a company-wide competition to name the new intranet.

Mobile optimization is finally picking up steam: While the focus on mobile intranet access had been slow to gain traction the last few years, most of this year’s winners emphasized mobile optimization to some degree, with three (compared to only one last year) giving mobile particular focus by employing a design process called responsive design that accommodates multiple devices.

“One thing that’s clear from our 14-year perspective at Nielsen Norman Group of looking deeply inside corporate intranets is that work on an intranet is never truly finished. Our four repeat winners this year demonstrate that a redesign project is only as good as its maintenance, upkeep and regular reevaluation. Organizational needs, technology offerings, and user expectations change over time, and the most successful intranet teams respond to these changes,” said Nielsen Norman Group managing director Kara Pernice.

Nielsen Norman Group's "Intranet Design Annual 2014: The Year’s 10 Best Intranets,” co-authored by Kara Pernice, Amy Schade, Patty Caya and Jakob Nielsen is available to download for $248 from the Nielsen Norman Group website at http://www.nngroup.com/reports/intranet-design-annual/.

About Nielsen Norman Group

Nielsen Norman Group (http://www.nngroup.com) in an evidence-based user experience research, training and consulting firm that advises companies on how to improve the bottom line through human-centered design of products and services. NN/g principals Jakob Nielsen, Don Norman and Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini are world-renowned user experience experts who were advocating human-centered design and usability long before it became popular to do so. Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Silicon Valley, NN/g evaluates interfaces of all kinds and guides the critical design decisions that make websites, applications, intranets and products achieve their full potential for businesses and their users.

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