Best Intranets

Lo-fi intranet concept on whiteboard: open door with city behind it and big red "Log In" buttonJakob Nielsen announced the new report on the 10 Best Intranet Designs of 2012. Not to be confused with intERnet. An intRAnet is a secure web experience within a company or organization designed to be used by employees, etc. It’s literally their private web. And designing and writing for them is a skill in and of itself. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to write and edit the content for a company’s new intranet. Some facets of writing for an intranet are the same as the world wide web, but there are other considerations.

According to Nielsen, in retrospect, the companies doing the best with their intranets are continuing to customize their support systems, design, tools, and content to respond quickly to employee/user needs AND to ensure the experience stays abreast of the contemporary web experience at large.

About the winners’ content approaches, Nielsen says:

This year’s winners were very strongly focused on content quality early on and throughout the design process. They understood that training content managers later in the process is costly and results in more time spent on fixing problems than on writing. Organizations can avoid content-related issues by prepping people upfront with training sessions, guidelines, and recommendations like our winners did. Everything Everywhere suggested its writers adopt a “newsroom mentality” and write articles of 250 words or less. Likewise, Genentech guidelines emphasized brief, clear, easy-to-follow content. Logica created a “Campaign Against Corporate Blah” to make departmental pages more meaningful, while Scotts Miracle-Gro writers focused on sharing what they know about their consumers.

It’s challenging to find public examples of some of these celebrated intranets—because they are secure interfaces. But there are some good resources for finding intranet screenshots and examples available if you dig for them:

Cisco intranet screenshots

Making an essential intranet – very nicely done slide presentation from Step Two Designs

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