9 characteristics of award winning intranets

NNG’s annual awards summary once again raises some interesting points. Rather than join the usual awards summary critics, I find them one of the greatest catalysts of conversation in our industry.

There will be a lot of you reading who look at these award winners and think;

“they must have lots of people / budget / time / stakeholder backing / a recognised name [delete as applicable]”

But the reality is this often isn’t the case. It is often one person or a small group of people creating brilliance on limited time and budgets with the pressures of a day job outside of managing their intranet’s success.

In this blog I want to look at NNG’s main findings and show how in reality these can be remarkably easier to achieve than they seem. I want you to know that creating an award winning intranet is not impossible, regardless of who you are and the time and resources you have, our customers’ have done it and so can you.

We make it easy for you to be brilliant

With previous customer success in a host of industry leading awards including NNG annuals, the Ragans, CIPR, DWG’s My Beautiful Intranet, and Melcrum’s awards, we have a strong track record of creating amazing intranets, in a shorter period and on smaller budgets than the finalists our customers often compete against.

Intranet Awards MSC

There are many reasons our customers win these awards but rarely if ever is it to do with big budgets, big teams or something you couldn’t achieve.

What they do have in common is the person or small group of people responsible have a burning brilliance which they are able to maximise through the most user friendly intranet software available.

So what are the nine characteristics which will make your intranet award winning?

1. Your Intranet Needs to Work, Wherever or Whoever Your User

People expect their experience to happen seamlessly, no matter the device they have or the location they are in. By not delivering this experience people can feel uncared for or frustrated that they are frequently zooming in or out of an intranet which isn’t optimised with responsive design.

Save this hassle by using a solution which is responsive out of the box. Interact makes this easy, helping you to shape your user experience and content automatically to suit any device.

responsive new

2. Wow Your Users Today, Tomorrow and Every Time They Use Your Intranet

NNG note the prevalence of flat design, it is the experience your customers find across their daily online experiences and your intranet should follow suit.

However, flat design does not mean your intranet can’t be inspiring and have the wow factor. Take a look at some of these examples to see how flat design will engage your audience without needing a team of designers to hand to keep it looking fresh.


MSC in device iic14 blog

Staffs Housing in device iic14


Ensure the solution you use gives you variety and keeps you cutting edge in terms of the look and feel, don’t be held prisoner by archaic thinking.

3. Don’t Just Tell, Engage

Whilst plain text in a printed book is acceptable, your users’ expectations are set by their day to day experiences of online content. As such, rich media like video has become the expected rather than appreciated.

However, this needn’t become a burden to your team. Consider repurposing some of your content for example and making a video of it instead, to find a new way to reach your audience.

Videos don’t have to be long, the success of Vine shows how easily a moment can be captured but similarly if it’s an important point, give it the time to get the message across. Remember though, how many people have more than five minutes to spare without fearing it is wasting time? Know your audience and cater for it accordingly.

Within Interact you can seamlessly embed third party content or store your videos directly within the product making it simple to incorporate rich media across your intranet.

4. Set Your Own Timescales

NNG identified an intranet reaching the point of success or essential amongst their sample, takes approximately 17 months. This is entirely down to the success of your features, the adoption levels and how quickly those levels become embedded into the way you work.

17 months looks a sensible estimate and breaking your intranet’s roadmap down iteratively gives you a far greater chance of managing your roll out and messaging benefits to you users. However, it can happen faster if you have the dynamism and support to achieve success.

Interestingly both our 2013 Essential Intranet Winners (Bauer Media) and 2014 Essential Intranet Winners (MSC) achieved the award at around 12 months old. However, set your ambitions and timescales against your requirements rather than looking to replicate someone else’s precedent.

5. You Don’t Need an Intranet Army

The average NNG Award Winning Intranet in 2015 had a team of 19 people but don’t let this scare you.
Commonly a lot of these people will be intranet champions, responsible for the success of content perhaps specific to a department or project. Their involvement may range from full time intranet focus to five minutes per week. Again this will be specific to your culture and the levels of involvement will vary through pre and post launch. Again, judge what is right by your business and its culture, ensure those involved are the right people to help you achieve what you need to but do not panic if this results in a larger team of champions.

Take a look at Sam Marshall at Clearbox’s research to get a broader insight to how big core teams tend to be.

6. You Are Not Alone

8 out of the 10 NNG winners used outside consultancy and the cost of doing so can often be offset against the time lost due to errors or not maximising opportunity.

Ensure when you take consultancy you know what objectives it will meet;

  • Do you want due diligence across your site?
  • Do you want specific help with one challenge?
  • Have these consultants dealt with similar user groups and businesses as yourself?
  • What are you able to source yourself through blogs like these, communities and LinkedIn groups?

Our customers receive the best of both worlds with open access to our customer Community which is home to 5,000 practitioners, the Interact University which takes customers from being novices to experts and additionally our Professional Services team comprising of separate strategy and training experts with experience of delivering hundreds of intranets.

7. Help Me Find What I Need…

Faceted search should be taken for granted by your users but many intranets don’t support it. Ensure your users can filter their search to find specifically what they need, both by content type and subject.

Having highly configurable widgets makes it even easier to filter the content pushed to your users.

8. …and Don’t Just Return Me a Title

Enhance the search experience, hover effects will make your users’ lives a dream. This allows them to see more than a title and summary, detailing the author and additional information needed to help your users find what they need first time.

This experience should go beyond search to all aspects of your site, for example if I hover over someone I should be prompted with their phone number, email and anything else I’m likely to want there and then.

One Click Intranet Search

9. Finding Content From Beyond the Intranet

Federated search allows you to pull content from beyond your intranet. For example Interact allows you to pull your content from SharePoint libraries as well as offering integration with a host of third party content solutions.

How Do I Make this Happen?

See how easy having a great intranet can be with our free trial, it will help put into practice the concepts above and start you on your journey to having an award winning intranet without the stress.