Writes Jakob Nielsen on a study conducted on Intranet designs:
In our study, we found that a lack of good management support for intranets had a great impact on quality. In particular, companies with ailing intranet usability rarely had a well-funded central intranet group with clear ownership of the design. Instead, they typically had many intranets that were not unified by a single navigation system with a single starting point.
When interviewing intranet designers, our sense was that intranets were often given lower priority than the corporate website. With all due respect for customer-facing design, the idea that it’s a promotion to be transferred from the intranet to the dot-com team hurts company productivity.
Productivity was also injured by an overemphasis on branding at some companies. People already work at the company; there is no need to sell them or hype up features. In particular, usability was always best when features had plain, descriptive labels rather than catchy, made-up names. On the positive side, visual design was typically clean and restrained, without the excesses often found on public websites.
Intranet teams can only accomplish so much through heroic efforts. Management must give them the budget to buy necessary software, to develop design standards and conduct usability studies, and to write content and implement tools that help employees increase their productivity. Intranet teams