Today’s Intranet teams are streamlining processes and are working faster. A trend we saw last year that repeated this year is for teams to go live with iterative changes rather than wait to launch one new, huge intranet design. Agile or Agile-like approaches were used effectively in a development and contributed to the lower average time required to create the Intranet. The operative word here is effectively, as employing Agile is not a silver bullet; if done well, however, it can certainly streamline a project. (If done without proper design integration, Agile coding will create a disjointed, substandard user experience).
The noted trend toward an iterative process has changed the way we’ve been measuring intranet-project completion in the last two years. Prior to that, we only looked at one single release of the “full” intranet. But now, for some designs, we’re looking at iterations of the design, or even at just the functional elements that were most recently changed.
This way of working is potentially more practical for an organization producing an up-to-date and useful design. The development challenges may seem less daunting with an iterative approach, and the ability to see working results sooner may be more gratifying too. As improvements occur incrementally, employees are generally happier too, which can help with employee retention.
A possible setback of an iterative approach, of course, is if the way employees do a task is changed out from under them (as it happens too often), and leaves them less productive and likely disgruntled. Thus, as designs iterate, it’s important that employees be able to still accomplish tasks without difficulty. No employee should wonder what mystery version of the intranet will appear each day when logging in. Their top tasks, global navigation, and core content sections should be designed early and stay static. This will help provide the concrete foundation that users need.
As for the user interface, intranets often take a cue from web design, but in some areas intranets lead the way. Strong trends in intranet features this year include:
Responsive Design. Like last year, responsive intranet design is significant again, Organizations overcame the usual concerns around intranet security and offer employees access to expected content in varying ways.
Search Filters. The most common new trend on intranets, this year is faceted search. Search technology and planned content management with descriptive keywords make this feature work for the users.
Hover effects for immediate information about search. Intranet designers today focus on getting employees more information faster with less user effort. Content on pages is more thorough, yet concise. Rather than clutter pages, designs make use of hover effects to display more information before a user makes a commitment to click and follow through. Most commonly, pausing the cursor over a search result displays more information about that result item.
Federated Search. This is just a borderline trend as only a few organizations are doing this, offering search capabilities that effectively query multiple knowledge repositories, thus removing invisible awareness barriers often found on intranets. A word of advice: make the searches in the various areas good before attempting to federate.
Flat Design. Bevels, shadows, and elaborate framing effects seem to have become about as necessary as the human appendix, at least for this year.
Carousels. As in recent years, carousels have a prominent presence on the intranet homepage. In Design Annual fashion, the way these organizations present the navigation and content further progresses carousel design for intranets.
Company Performance on Homepage. To inform and motivate employees,
Megamenus. Also seen in years past, megamenus are helping employees discover layers deep in the hierarchy with a simple waive of the mouse.
Clever Use of Video. Today’s intranet designers recognize the potential and power of video. And they are moving away from the idea of limiting how or when video can be used on intranets.
Fat Footers. Display of large footers at the bottom of intranet pages, giving employees one more chance to find what they need when down there. These oversized footers, separated from the main content area with a different background colour and containing distinctly headed sections, are an expected and obliging anchor on intranets.
Some Intranet Examples from the Middle East:
1. ARAMEX launches global Intranet
Based on Microsoft platform, intranet forms part of ARAMEX world-wide advanced technology strategy: forms basis for new customer service roll out
Amman, the international express and freight forwarding company specializing in the Middle East and Indian Sub-Continent regions announced it has launched its globally available intranet based on advanced technologies from world leading software company Microsoft Corporation. The global communications system will, in the future, form the basis of the company’s extranet, a service that will give ARAMEX customers and suppliers access to the company’s globally held information resources.
The new intranet system will operate as the single communications medium that gives ARAMEX staff all over the world immediate access on all of the company’s operational, administrative, and customer related information. It also provides information about the industries and markets that the company services. The development comes about as a
2. Atlantis the Palm’s intranet system
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai launched its intranet system, Aquarius, in February last year to streamline communication across the resort’s various departments, which employ more than 3000 people. With phase one now well and truly under way, the team is concentrating on building and launching phase two, which will feature a more interactive platform that will also foster independence among team members.
Rationale and Objective: The concept of an exclusive Atlantis intranet system was initially introduced to Atlantis team members in 2011. After receiving feedback on the ‘communications’ section of the hotel’s employee engagement index, the management team began working on improving communication within and among departments and diversifying the feedback channels at Atlantis. Comments received as part of the survey also indicated that shared drives were no longer the solution for communication across a large team, which led to the IT and employee marketing teams working together towards building the concept of internal system, Aquarius.
Another goal was to provide up to date content –to make sure that all the information that we’re giving out is current because this is the main concept of the intranet. Then of course, the third was to be Atlantis branded, to create the same look and feel that the main website of Atlantis has, so that people can relate to it.
3. Saudi Food and Drug Authority
“Bawabaty” ( بوابتي ) which means my portal in Arabic, is highly customizable; giving employees powerful tools they need to do their work, and the freedom to do it in their own way.