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Nielsen Norman Group proves you (probably) want a turnkey intranet

Neilson Norman Group's findings this year make it clear that you probably want a SaaS solution.


Graph adapted from Nielsen Norman Group

Neilsen Norman Group is lead by Donald Norman and Jakob Neilson – two of the most noted usability experts of all time. They have been doling out intranet awards for over a decade. In January, they announced the 10 Best Intranets of 2015. These awards prove without a doubt, that what most companies really need is a cloud-based, turnkey intranet solution.

Here’s why. NN/G has tabulated what it takes to create a great intranet: the time, team sizes, the features. This is what they found:

  • Time
    NN/g’s winning intranets for 2015 hailed from companies as small as 200 and as large as 230,000. The average time for building an intranet was 17 months. Very few companies can afford 17 months without a better intranet.
  • Resources
    Those companies with fewer than 5,000 employees had an average of nine people per 1,000 employees dedicated to their intranet. Can you afford to tie up a couple of dozen IT resources on an intranet for 17 months?
  • Expertise
    Included in those team counts were legions of consultants brought in to add expertise in the SharePoint, information architecture, design, development, usability, and more.
  • Expense
    Time, plus resources, plus external consultants means very significant hard dollar costs and opportunity costs. Would you rather invest those resources in an intranet or on key initiatives like product development and customer acquisition?
  • Features
    Trending features amongst the winners and entrants included responsive design so that it will work on mobile (though few of these have the design sophistication to work well on the small screen ), search improvements, images and video. How much time and money is spent reinventing the wheel?
  • The future
    Now that these award winning intranets are up and running, how will they evolve? How long will it take them to add the next important feature? To fix usability issues? Who will maintain them, and ensure they are current and constantly improving? How will that initially beautiful UI stand the test of time when all the resources are reassigned and the consultants are gone?

So. You may be lucky to work for a company with a long time horizon and very generous resources. One where maintaining a 10 or 20 person team is a reasonable cost for delivering a great intranet. Maybe you can survive for a year or two while you work to replace your intranet. Maybe you have technical and design staff around to respond to changes, upgrades and requests.

But more than likely you want something that just works. Now. And stays fresh and current automatically forever. That’s where a turnkey, cloud-based intranet is a huge win.

What features should you look for in a cloud-based intranet?

  • Usability – no amount of features bells or whistles will overcome bad UI.
  • Mobile first design – mobile is critical, it must work well on phones.
  • Seamless integration to your current HR and people management systems.
  • Employee communications, library, peer-to-peer communications AND collaboration. You need them all.
  • One that will let you manage your business and culture the way you want to, and doesn’t force you to change.

Of course, we think Jostle is a good solution, and our customers’ engagement rates show that it is working. Check out some of their stories here.

Deb Lavoy

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