by Kara Pernice, Amy Schade, and Patty Caya on January 7, 2017
Summary: The winners of our 16th Intranet Design Annual came from diverse industries and relied on a combination of internal resources and external intranet конкурс help.
Following are the organizations with the 10 best-designed intranets for 2017:
- Bank of America, NA (United States), a financial institution offering banking, investing, asset management, and financial and risk management products and services
- Encana Corporation (Canada), a leading North American energy producer
- Goldcorp, Inc. (Canada), one of the world's fastest-growing senior gold producers
- Goodwill Industries International, Inc. (United States), a nonprofit social enterprise with a retail infrastructure that funds career services
- IBM Corporation (United States), a technology, consulting, and research organization
- JetBlue (United States), the fifth largest airline in the United States
- Kerry Group plc (Ireland), a provider of taste and nutrition technologies and functional ingredients and actives for the global food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries
- Latvian Railway: State Joint Stock Company “Latvijas dzelzceļš” (Latvia), a holding company with five subsidiaries providing railway infrastructure, transportation, construction, repair, and security
- Santander Group (Spain), a Spanish banking group that serves more than 100 million customers
- Tourism New Zealand (New Zealand), the organization responsible for marketing New Zealand to the world as a tourist destination
Bank of America previously won the Intranet Design Annual in 2008. IBM Corporation is also a 2-time winner, previously recognized in the 2006 Intranet Design Annual. We recognize repeat winners for their ongoing commitment to building usable intranets.
6 of the 10 winners are from North America, with 4 from the US and 2 from Canada. Elsewhere, this year marks first time a Latvian company has graced our list.
Finance and Technology Make a Comeback
In the early Design Annual years, the technology and finance industries had the most prominent showing. In more recent years, however, we had few winners from these industries, likely because the financial crisis caused these companies to reduce their investment in internal IT quality. But this year these sectors are back, with 2 winners for the financial industry and one winner for the technology industry.
The utility industry is the most winning industry overall. This year, we have one winner from this industry.
Quick, Iterative, Development
Intranet teams continue to be nimble. The average time spent creating a new intranet was just 1.4 years, staying on par with timeframes from the previous 3 years’ winners. For some organizations, it is difficult to even calculate the time for their current intranet designs, as they were part of longer-term iterative planning and development processes.
A switch to faster development strategies (such as Agile) for intranets contributes to these shorter times, as does the continual improvement of intranet platforms and tools that can help teams create solidly designed sites more quickly than ever before.Since 2001, intranet teams have spent an average of three years (36 months) creating their winning designs. But more recently, for 4 years straight, winning intranet teams have spent less than 1.5 years creating their sites; this year’s average is 1.4 years, or 17.3 months.
Looking at the long-term changes across the 18 years represented in the above chart makes it seem that we've come full circle: In 2017 we're back where we started in 2001, after a detour with slower intranet projects around the period 2005–2012. However, our assessment is that we're not exactly back where we started: the quick projects in 2001 were mainly due to very limited investments in intranets at the time, whereas now the quick projects are more due to better-funded projects with teams who are (by now) more skilled in doing intranet work. (No shame that the folks back in 2001 didn't have as much experience: the world was new.)
Large and Small Organizations
This year’s winning organizations employ an average of 100,700 employees, ranging from 160 employees at Tourism New Zealand to just over 400,000 for IBM.
This year’s median company size is 21,500, with 5 of the winning organizations employing 20,000 or fewer employees. Four winning organizations (IBM, Bank of America, Santander Group, and Goodwill) employ more than 100,000 people, and Kerry Group employs slightly more than this year’s median at 23,000.
Average intranet-team size is reported as 12 people, the fewest people since 2008. But this doesn’t mean, necessarily, that fewer people can get the job of designing a great intranet done. Rather, this small team size is mostly attributable to the fact that organizations did not count external consultants as part of their teams. So, the number of the full-time employees that are part of the team may be lower, but the total number of people working on intranets is higher than that.
Support Ratio: Intranet Team Size Relative to Supported-Organization Size
The following formula can help you determine the best intranet team size in relation to the number of employees the intranet is meant to support:
Intranet-support ratio = 8.9419 ´ the number of employees-0.972
That is, you take the number of employees the intranet supports and raise it to the power of -0.972. Next, multiply the resulting number by 8.9419 to get the expected intranet support ratio. Multiplying the resulting support ratio by the number of employees gives you the optimal team size.
The equation explains 89% of the variability in intranet-support ratios. This effect is visible in the chart below. According to Jakob Nielsen, “It is very rare to get this strong a mathematical model of anything in the UX field. So it’s a good finding.”The “intranet-support ratio” equation explains 89% of the variability in intranet-support ratios. This effect is visible in the chart, in which the numbers are plotted on a double logarithmic scale. Each dot represents a winning intranet. The 10 red dots represent this years’ winners.
Bringing In Outside Help
All 10 of this year’s winning organizations looked to outside agencies and consultants to lend expertise to their intranet redesign projects.
On average, organizations hired two outside agencies to assist them in various project stages, including the following:
- Application design
- Card sorting
- Content audit and analysis
- Content migration
- Governance framework
- Graphic design
- HTML and CSS
- Information architecture
- Interviews and user research
- Navigation and taxonomy
- Server setup
- SharePoint assistance
- Style guidelines
- UX design
- Visual design
Only some of the winning design teams included these external organizations in their total team size; that some didn’t include them might partially explain the smaller team sizes this year.
In any case, we’ve seen growing reliance on outside help for intranet creation. External resources can fill knowledge and expertise gaps on the internal team and add outside experience and perspective.
However, every winning team in the past two Intranet Design Annuals has relied on at least one external resource. This fact left us pondering two questions:
- Has intranet technology reached a level of complexity beyond what the average internal intranet team can handle?
- Do internal intranet team members lack adequate skills?
If external resources are too heavily relied on for a specific intranet project, who then is left within the organization to iterate, maintain, and continually improve the new site? Spending the time and money to train team members or hiring intranet team members with specific skills might be a better long-term investment.For the second year in a row, all 10 winning intranets used external consultants and agencies.
More details about the collaboration between in-house teams and outside firms can be found in each company’s individual profile.
Finance, technology, and utilities still lead the charge as industries that have the best intranets. And both large and small organizations show us that any sized organization can produce a great intranet. Turning to consultants outside the organization can give teams advanced insights, and the shot in the arm needed to innovate and exploit the technology they are using. Before taking a cue from these winners, be wary about relying on experts for a finite, short-term window, then being left without the in-house expertise needed to maintain and iteratively design new areas of the intranet.
For more information about themes, intranet best practices, and full-color screenshots of the 10 winners, download the 2017 Intranet Design Annual. The report download comes with a folder containing each image as a.png to make it easier to zoom in on and study the designs.
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