We are fast approaching the submission date for this year’s Neilsen Norman Best Intranet Design Awards, aka, the Intranet Oscars. Each year the most innovative and modern global intranets are shortlisted and showcased in Neilsen Norman’s annual report and intranet teams across the globe are always striving to be part of it.
When looking back over the last few years of award winners, it’s become clear a lot has changed in the world of intranets. Not only has design moved on but also technology and in turn the capability within the sites. This sparked the question of how do these companies go about building an award winning intranet? What is the magic formula that makes these sites so successful and how do we translate this into a strategy for our future clients?
What is the magic formula for a successful intranet solution?
When considering this question, I turned to my own experience at BrightStarr. We have a good history with the awards and have won three times so we must be doing something right!
We have completed over 400 intranet projects and through experience with a range of customers have devised a proven methodology, I think this coupled with three main project considerations allows us to re-create our award winning projects again and again.
Our award-winning intranet methodology
Firstly, we follow a process known as Kinetica that allows us to engage with the business in question, understand the vision, strategy and drivers. We then analyse our findings and prioritise the requirements in order to move into a design phase. At this point we develop a solution that will meet the needs of the business and look visually appealing. Our in house development team then build, test and deploy the intranet to complete the process.
However, this process is not enough to produce excellent intranets, there’s more to it than that.
We feel there are three themes within each intranet project that cannot be ignored during the intranet re-design process. These are:
Each customer has their own culture and ways of working. The visual design, look and feel and user experience must take this into consideration and create a user experience that fits the behaviours of the employees. Without great user experience and a well thought-through design, a project is almost destined to fail. Even for organisations who believe functionality is the most important aspect of their project, without brilliant user experience to support, it’s unlikely they’ll see the adoption and engagement rates they’re hoping to see.
The next key focus are we see is capability. You need to understand what functionality is required within the intranet and these must be prioritised. Identify a vision and focus to drive you through this process. For example, is the intranet a communications portal? Is this a knowledge sharing platform? In the same way that user experience must back up functionality, if an intranet looks great but does not provide the required capability, employees will simply stop using it.
The technology platform is a major consideration as this will affect how you implement the design and capability elements. Take time to understand what you need from the technology, will you need to integrate with existing systems, what devices will it be accessed on? If you get this wrong it may restrict your intranet success but also halt you in the future. Overall, you must consider that each organisation is different. Some are driven by technology constraints, some are gaining buy in through look and feel and some are focused on functionality and providing business as usual capability.
It is important to consider all of the above before embarking on an intranet project. If you keep in mind the needs of the business throughout and continue to strive towards them, you will create a solution that the employees will embrace.
As a final note, the word cloud below will leave you with some key areas to consider and questions to ask yourself if you are embarking on this journey for your business….
Look out for our future blog that will give you some insight into managing your intranet once live and how to push and maintain user engagement.
If you'd like some more information on our award-winning intranet solutions - a history of our Nielsen Norman Awards can be found here. You can also read more about our award-winning intranet solutions here.