No improvement in intranet usability, study says

Intranet usability is no better—and is maybe a tad worse—than it was 10 years ago, according to a new Nielsen/Norman study. One expert, though, says too much has changed to make a viable comparison.

A recent study from the Nielsen Norman Group found that the rate of success for employees attempting to accomplish basic tasks on their intranets has stayed basically the sameticking down just a bitsince 2002. The success rate 10 years ago was 75 percent. Now it’s 74 percent.

The group’s study compares that single-percentage-point drop against the success of public Internet websites, which have “improved dramatically” in terms of usability over the past decade.

Though at least one intranet expert contends those numbers may be a bit deceiving given the changes in the digital world since 2002, there are definitely ways internal communicators could make intranets easier to use.

Major roadblocks

If public websites have improved so much, what’s holding back intranets? Nielsen Norman Group co-founder Jakob Nielsen offers two reasons: One, they’ve become too complex, with too many features. Second, too many companies use intranet software right out of the box, rather than customizing it for their employees.

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