Full day training course offered at Usability Week San Francisco

Intranet Design Trends and Best Practices

Enterprise UX strategies to increase employee productivity, communication, and satisfaction

Course Date: May 02, 2013

An intranet typically has both mission-critical applications and enormous amounts of information. You will learn how to best support your organization, enable employee communication, and increase employee productivity and satisfaction by improving the intranet’s usability.

Examples and guidelines presented in this course are based on:

  • Insights gained from reviewing hundreds of intranet entries for NN/g’s Intranet Design Annual competition
  • Data and examples from research (including usability testing and field studies) conducted on 42 intranets
  • Research of 77 intranet information architectures
  • Work with clients (though specific content is anonymous in these cases)
  • Surveys with intranet designers, managers, developers, and content managers
"This is a great start to learning intranet best practices. You will be surprised with the issues that exist in colleague-facing sites."

Cory Shamble

Topics Covered

Topics Covered

Management and governance

  • User-focused intranet design process
    • Timeframe for making great intranets
    • Redesigning an intranet, and catalysts for redesign
    • Steps to complete before designing
    • Setting goals and balancing business goals and employee goals
    • How common it is for intranet teams to set clear goals
    • Understanding employees' needs, workflow, and tasks
  • Intranet team components with optimal success
    • Team size increasing for best intranets
    • Where teams fit in the organization 
    • Support needs for intranet teams
  • Content management
    • Structures for content control
    • Governance and management
    • Challenges and benefits
    • Training and support
    • Importance of guidelines and standards
    • Writing effectively for the organization
  • Multiple locations and languages support
  • Benchmark your intranet’s usability against others, how to and data
    • Research study methodology and results
    • Numeric findings from our usability sessions
    • How to conduct your own quantitative study
    • Return on investment (ROI)

User behavior on intranets

  • Popular “killer” apps and how they drive traffic
  • Latency on the job and effects on intranet usage
  • Interruptions and the effect on intranet usability
  • Access, locations, and other factors that affect UX
  • How to design for shared workstations and kiosks

Design trends from “best in class” intranets

  • Features seen often
  • Process lessons
  • SharePoint tips

Social features

  • How to deploy social features for success
  • Advice for coaxing employees to participate in social features
  • Accessing the readiness for social features at the organization
  • Benefits to offering polls, endorsements, team spaces, comments, blogs, video, feeds, and more
  • Barriers to social participation in the enterprise, and how to overcome them
  • Traits of good blogs, videos, and other social features
  • Involving employees while supporting the organizations' culture and particular benefits
  • How people use video successfully at enterprises
  • Formal versus informal style
  • Information to provide about and with video

Accessing the intranet

  • One password single sign-on for all intranet related applications
  • Simple URL’s and names are more easily remembered
  • Purpose and types of homepages
  • News homepages for conveying current information
  • Portal homepages provide quick access
  • Personalized homepages feed targeted information
  • Personalization benefits, drawbacks and advice
    • Common roles to base personalization on
    • Customization tips and examples

Navigating the intranet

  • Information Architecture (IA)
    • Typical ways for organizing an intranet IA
    • Starting point for a task-based IA
    • Traits of good types of navigation
    • Faceted navigation
    • Mega menus
  • Search
    • Why employees search: Hunting strategies and search behavior
    • Global, intranet-wide search
    • Local, domain-specific search
    • Suggested search
    • Filters for narrowing down results
    • Employee search and informative employee profiles

Mobile optimization

  • Enterprise applications
  • Responsive design intranets
  • Planning an effective mobile strategy
  • Security
  • Performance
  • Selecting features for different viewport sizes

User research for intranets

  • Field studies at employee work areas
  • Usability testing with employees
  • Support call monitoring
  • Usage log reviews
  • Surveys



The basis of the course is a lecture format with a few group exercises to reinforce the learned principles and guidelines.

The course also includes:

  • Findings from our own usability studies
  • Screenshots of designs that work and don’t work, and why
  • Opportunities to ask questions and offer your own stories

Attendee Feedback

"I am glad I came to this session BEFORE embarking on our intranet re-design.  So many great tips!" Sarah Walczynski, Country Financial
"I will continue to recommend NNg courses as the best I have attendedin 20+ years with my current employer. Current, insightful and detailed — [if] you can't learn from this experience, you're in the wrong job!"
"It is rare to get an insight into intranet design. The NNg course provides real life research into the do's and don'ts of designing an intranet." Dan Hollings, Denplan Ltd
"Super refreshing clarity and lack of jargon all around, extremely useful. Is like a course equivalent of Steve Krug book." Jordan Cox, UN World Food Programme



Kara Pernice

Kara Pernice (@KaraAnn) is Senior Vice President at Nielsen Norman Group. Pernice uniquely combines her 20-plus years of business, research, and design knowledge and experience to help organizations increase their UX maturity and derive interfaces which are usable, useful, and surpass business goals. Pernice is accomplished at evaluating and managing design situations, and crafting with a team the most fitting design and research methods, and converting this analysis into outstanding design. Pernice has led teams running hundreds of intercontinental research studies, and is expert in many usability methods. Read more about Kara