Vol. 04: Communications: News, Newsletters, and Social Features

3rd Edition

Report PDF cover image

Part of the Intranet Usability Guidelines Series

The intranet offers employees a centralized place to stay abreast of news from everyone at the organization; industry news which helps the organization stay competitive; and news about what’s being said about the organization, so employees can improve the image. Further, providing news on the intranet limits excessive emailing within the company. Reading internal news is one of the most common intranet tasks, so the UI should be a simple as possible.

Social features have exploded on intranets, partly because they take some of the load off Corporate Communications teams by enabling employees to communicate with each other on the intranet. These features help employees feel more valued as both human beings and assets to the business. At the same time, the organization can keep a pulse on employees’ ideas and feelings and use this information to improve the business.

(Leadership communication is covered in Information about People, Teams, Departments, and the Company (Incl. Corporate Policies)).

This 169-page report contains 144 design recommendations based on our usability research. Discussions and 109 screenshot illustrations supplement the findings.


  • Social features on intranets
    • Reasons for offering social features
    • Common social networking features
  • Implementing social features to encourage employee engagement
    • Integrating social features on intranets
  • Best practices for social features
    • Commenting, rating, and liking
    • Blogs and discussion forums
    • Team spaces (communities)
    • Employee profile documents as social features
    • Wikis
  • Email and email newsletters
    • Determining how to best use newsletters, and deal with multiple newsletters
  • Presenting news
    • Types of articles to include to motivate and inform employees
    • News on the homepage
    • Separate news section
    • Article page layout
    • Outside news sources
    • News headlines
    • Dating news items
    • Writing and adding news
    • News archive
  • Videos
    • Integrating video with the intranet
    • Video length
    • Information about videos
    • Video archives
    • Video controls
  • Print publications
  • Online magazines

Research Method

The information in these reports is based on three separate rounds of user research with company employees as participants. We used two different research methods:

  • One-on-one usability testing
  • Field studies, during which we observed employees as they went about their normal work

Hundreds of people tested 42 intranets. The studies took place in the United States, the United Kingdom, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, United Arab Emirates, and China (Hong Kong).

Which License?


Purchase an individual license if the report or video will only be used by one person.

Customers who choose an individual license are not authorized to share the report or video with anyone else, or post it to any internal or external file server, website, or intranet. Individual License Terms


Purchase a group license if the report or video will be used by multiple people within your organization.

Customers who choose a group license are authorized to post the report or video on internal file servers or intranets and make it available to others within the organization. The group license does not grant permission to make the report/video available to people not employed by your organization, the general public, or to post it to a publicly accessible website or file server. Group License Terms


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