Today’s intranet portals are at the epicenter of the enterprise universe. They provide utility and usability, featuring all or most necessities for employees’ success. Popular enterprise portal offerings include use via mobile devices and home computers, consolidation of and access to enterprise applications, and communication vehicles for employees. As organizations inch toward a digital workplace, intranet portals are beginning to serve as the hub of the corporate wheel, providing spokes of information and applications that serve diverse and increasingly dispersed workforces.
Not all organizations have achieved the dream of total integration of all enterprise applications, often due to resource constraints and security concerns. It is clear that most at least share that goal and are on the road and moving in that direction even if some have just barely left the driveway.
In updating ourIntranet Portals报告, with this being our fifth edition, it remains obvious that most organizations want to offer their employees the best possible tools and experience with their enterprise portals. But not all organizations have the time or expertise for this. Smaller design teams that have less support from senior management have to start their work toward a great intranet portal now, knowing it will take months or years before their work will yield considerable results. Despite this reality, there are many lessons that can be learned from companies whose efforts are still modest.
Portals Included in the Report
For this latest research we looked at intranet portals in 16 organizations, tracing a line across the globe that connects intranet best practices from the City of Olathe, Kansas in America’s heartland, all the way to the Municipal Design and Survey Unitary Enterprise “Minskinzhproekt” in Belarus. The most recent case studies include the following:
- The Carle Foundation
- City of Olathe, Kansas
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- FDC Solutions, Inc.
- Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.
- Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute
- National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
- Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners
- Persistent Systems Limited
- Resource Data, Inc.
- Think Mutual Bank
- Yara International ASA
Our recommendations for intranet portals are now based on83 portals case studies.
作为企业门户的成熟和成长，需要更多结构化，但分散的门户治理。门户团队正在学习，因为Intranet门户触及组织的所有层，所以治理也是如此。新案例研究揭示了对分散或矩阵治理模型的举动，而不是过去几年，治理更集中 - 被企业门户所有者创造，沟通和策划。
Some organizations find themselves creating governance where once there was none, while others flesh out more specific details of their portal governance structure to accommodate touch points across the organization.
Governance, like most aspects of portal development, is marathon not a sprint, and portal teams realize that governance must evolve, as does the portal.
SharePoint Can Be Very Effective, But Other Good Technology Options Exist
Many organizations are happy to report that a variety of tools, including open-source tools, are catching up to their needs. Everyone cannot necessarily afford to integrate and support large, complex intranet portal solutions such as SharePoint. But as technology matures, the barriers to entry are lowered, and more portal technology options become available.
这不是Intranet门户设计的新概念。2000年我们第一次开始学习内部网时，开源很大。直到2008did we see SharePoint taking a strong hold. Even that year, our 10内联网设计一种nnualwinners使用41个不同的产品，用于其Intranet技术平台。在我们的most recent (2014) Intranet Design Annual, 5 out of 10winners使用sharepoint。在我们的Intranet行为 - 研究研究, organizations used about 20 different portal-software tools. So there has never been a paucity of intranet portal technology that can produce worthwhile portals.What’s different today is that technology has advanced to a point where a fairly nontechnical team can create a highly functional portal without an advanced design team in-house.
The City of Olathe (Kansas), Canada’s Department of Transport, and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) are a few examples of organizations of varying size that chose to build their portal on a Drupal framework. These organizations saw an open-source solution and accompanying tools as more flexible and better for enough of their needs.
The thread between these organizations is that all three are related to政府in some capacity. While large corporations with deft IT departments have jumped into bed with SharePoint, some government organizations say SharePoint is too much to wrangle, and so choose another path.
These successful examples demonstrate thatan intranet portal does not have to be sitting on top of a giant portal-technology platform in order to be either full-featured or effective.有时小小是美丽的。
一种s more content and applications are available on enterprise portals, the need to curate what each person sees becomes increasingly important, to prevent employees from becoming truly overwhelmed.
The team at Persistent Systems, for example, designed the company’s portal in such a way that nearly every component was role based and location aware. This wasn’t easy to achieve, as the company’s business analysts had to create a role-functionality matrix to determine an ideal homepage mix for each and every type of user based on role and location. From there, users were free to further customize their experience.
不仅是基于角色的个性化革命制度党ority for the re-design, it has been received enthusiastically by users, helping them remain focused on critical action items while still giving them access to all the rest of what the portal has to offer.
Customization has also seen an uptick since the last edition of this report, but it’s customization with a targeted focus. We’ve pointed out again and again that more frivolous customization features such as colors, themes, and layouts often fail. Targeted customization features that are task oriented and streamline workflows are, however, both appreciated and well used by users.
Several organizations in this year’s report have foundeven simple customization features such “My” pages (My Sites,My Links,My Tools, etc.) help boost user engagement.The Carle Foundation, Resource Data, Inc. and Canada’s Department of Transport all report good results with these user-controlled features. Few organizations track the specific usage of these features, but anecdotal evidence shows that they are being used and users are asking for feature enhancements to continue to make them better.
找到关于customi这个简单的寓意zation is that quality tops quantity:用户控制的功能是最受欢迎的，当他们聚焦和战略时非常欢迎rather than when they are abundant and overwhelming.
一种pplications Can Drive Enterprise Portal Adoption
In the previous edition of this report we saw some great examples of applications that were specific, targeted, and highly successful, both in their own right and also as drivers of portal usage overall. Applications attract users and keep them coming back, and companies are starting to truly understand this. Companies that create innovative, or even simple but useful tools will likely experience higher portal-adoption rates.. If the portal offers users tools to help employees get the job done, they’ll be back again and again.
When done well, even basic tools (such as skill-based employee directories) can be a key driver for user satisfaction and increased portal adoption. When key applications are aimed at managers or executives, they attract high-level eyeballs on the portal project and translate into a win for portal teams. Many enterprise portal teams use applications to draw people in. Useful, well-designed applications keep people coming back. This has been true since this report’s first edition and remains true today.
While applications drive adoption, mobile can do so even more. Mobile can in fact be the portal’s killer app.
Mobile Enterprise Portal Optimization is Slow in Coming, But Viewed as Important
Mobile intranetsand enterprise applicationsstill don’t have nearly the penetration这次手机在现实世界中享有。坏消息是这种差异从未如此明显过。一种Pew Report发现,90%的美国人拥有手机and 58% are smartphones. Yet, only a smattering of the organizations whose case studies appear here are truly optimized for the mobile experience or offer task-specific applications to support daily work.
在报告的最后一版我们写道:”出局ide the firewall, the mobile space is teeming with innovation, but inside companies, mobile progress seems to be progressing at a snail's pace.” In this edition the snail has picked up its speed to a slow trot toward mobile. We can hope that the parable of the tortoise and the hare will have some bearing on mobile intranet features and result in truly great designs in the (long-awaited) end.
The good news, however, is that those organizations that have embraced mobile as a critical piece of their enterprise portal strategy have done so with gusto, truly making mobile a core part of their portal offering, if not its centerpiece.
Persistent Systems leads the charge in this endeavor. With its most recent portal redesign the company took the mobile imperative and turned it on its head with a mobile-first design approach. Instead of designing for the desktop and adapting the portal experience for small screens, the design-team’s task analysis focused on the needs of mobile users first and let the desktop expand around the core mobile functions.
一种nybody wanting to launch a mobile intranet portal is advised toprioritize and optimize content for small screen and mobile use. Employees want and are beginning to expect their portals to be usable not only on desktop, but on phones with small displays and tablets. Making time- and location-dependent tasks easy on mobile devices is a good place to begin.
The key point is to start with a task analysis of users' most important tasks, andprioritize the portal layoutto effectively meet users’ needs.
Some organizations are marching headlong into enterprise mobile. Most recent Intranet Design Annual winners focused on mobile optimization in some capacity, and three winners took a响应设计approach to design and develop their intranet.
But in terms of strategy and execution, a key finding from this round of interviews is that the typical design team is not there yet — still. Many efforts toward a mobile-enterprise initiative are still “coming soon,” even now three years after our last round of research.
We fully agree with the idea of waiting until you can get it right; poor mobile designs are really miserable for users. And for enterprise use, you pay for every minute that employees waste slugging through a bad UI. Still, we advise companies to plan to make their intranets accessible and usable on mobile sooner rather than later. As employees increasingly see rapid improvements in their mobile user experience on the open Internet, they’ll demand it from their organizations as well.
User Research: A Little Bit of Everything
Many (nearly all those we interviewed for this report edition) design teams conduct user research in a regular and predictable way. Additionally, they plan to iterate and refine their portal designs as they apply the feedback from users.
The shift we are seeing is not just an increase in user research, but ratheran increase in iterative cycles that involve usersover and over again as the design and architecture evolves. Design teams are now employing many types of research methods, from observational research (such as usability tests), to data mining (from call logs and site metrics), to attitudinal methods (such as surveys).
The UX research feeds into tweaking the current design, and planning for a redesign. And more portal designers practice recommended iterative design by testing and redesigning wireframes prior to launching a new design.
While budgets are certainly still tight and resources still strained, teams are finding ways to fit in a little user research not just once, but all along the project continuum. Both NARA and The Carle Foundation, for example conducted numerous research activities throughout the project lifecycle. These activities included:
- Visiting and watching users在他们的工作场所
- Usability testing以前的设计
- Usability testingof design prototypes
- Usability testing of the new site after launch
- Card sorting
- Listening in on support calls or training
- 一种nalyzingserver logs and usage stats
- Beta testing of new design
It’s still true that some research is better than none. But this is definitely a very low goal. Instead strive for what the portal designers in our report achieved: a little bit of research, in every phase. This is far more effective than at just one or two larger studies.
ROI: Standing Behind Softer Measures
作为企业门户蓬勃发展，变得更加不可或缺，成功的标准度量 -return on investment (ROI)— isstill not easy to measure. While some UX-related metrics such as更快的任务完成和更高的任务成功可以测量，很少发生。代替ROIcontinues to be measured in intangibles such as communication or satisfaction rather than dollars and cents.
But don’t be put off by the squishiness of these measures. These improvements are significant for organizations that struggle with engagement or access to information. Portals at their most basic configuration provide a unified location where employees access tools to get their jobs done, and that alone can be a huge advancement over the way things were previously done.
What’s important, regardless, is tohave clear goals and some tangible way to measure improvements朝着这些目标做出。
Read more about intranet portals in our research report, "Intranet Portals: UX Design Experience from Real-Life Projects，第五版。“