10 best intranets of 2015 announced

Winners demonstrate the value of iterative development and responsive design in the creation of successful intranets.

The ten best-designed intranets of 2015 have been unveiled by usability experts the Nielsen Norman Group (NNG). Three winners come from Europe, five from North America, one from Saudi Arabia and one from South Africa. The winning companies include Accolade, a Dutch social housing organisation; TAURON Polska Energia, the largest supplier of electricity in Poland; UniCredit, an Italian commercial bank; the Saudi Food and Drug Authority; and Klick Health, a digital health agency based in Canada.  

According to NNG, "Today’s Intranet teams are streamlining processes and working faster." Rather than waiting to launch a whole new intranet in one go, the trend is for teams to roll out with iterative changes. This has the positive practical effects, and can mean the development challenges seem less daunting, and employees are generally happier with incremental changes.  

On average, the winning teams took 1.4 years to create a new intranet – that's about the same as last year, and a considerable drop when compared to an average of 2.2 years for 2013's winners, and 4 years for the 2012 winners.

Eight of the winning organisations this year called in external agencies and consultants to assist with their projects, looking for help in areas such as content strategy and training, information architecture, SharePoint, social tools, and usability research.

Features trending this year include responsive design, with half of the winners implementing intranets in a responsive way. Faceted search was an important element of the winning intranets, with eight of the winners offering facets as a means of refining search results. Some of the winning organisations use hover effects (for example, stopping the cursor over a search result to reveal more information about it) to provide immediate information before the user makes the decision to click through.

Carousels on the home page remain an important design feature, maximising the available space on the home page, and 'megamenus' -- large drop-down menus with multiple levels of links which preview lower-level content in context -- also continue to be popular for the winning intranets.

Video is starting to become a powerful tool.  Klick, for example, offers knowledge sharing via iPhone video, quickly recording answers to employee questions and then uploading the video to the intranet, while Adobe’s Employee Communications team produces short, biweekly recaps of top news stories.

More information here: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/intranet-design/