Jakob Nielsens’ 10 Best Intranets finds no standard CMS

January 18, 2007

Jakob Nielsens published the study on 10 Best Intranets and exposes some interesting facts – which we all knew were existing, but never thought that best intranets were made on them.

One of the points he makes – which I am going to talk about today

 ” This year, all the winning intranets were template-driven and relied on a content management system (CMS). Strikingly, most intranets used their own homemade CMS. Thus, even though there are standards within each intranet, there’s no standard across intranets, even in the choice of CMS. “

Almost everyone I talk to about intranets – can cite more than one examples when prototypes and demos became live intranets and flourished from there. Not surprisingly, many of the working prototypes tend to be based on open source products. However, this survey doesnt mention any of the open source porducts and that I do find surprising. Possibly because the choice of products were so varied among these 10 companies that there was no product used ad multiple places.

However more and more companies are looking at standardizing their intranet platforms. Amongst the projects that me and my company have been involved in, the platforms were implemented using varied technology sets – like Documentum and ATG Portal, Interwoven Teamsite+Mediabin and BEA portal, Vignette Suite, Sharepoint + Lamp based open source, complete custom development, etc.

The point here is that the list of features required for an intranet are so varied, that no matter what product set you go with, you will need to plug in applications, third party components and do a lot of custom building. Usually the product choices are driven by the requirements of first set of sites to be created – and that is not a bad strategy as it helps time to market for the first set, thus keeping the interest of the organization high.

 So which product you go with doesnot matter (you have to significantly customize all of them)- what matters is that the product should be extensible, provide you option to plug in or override functionalilties like Authentication, search etc, should make it easy to integrate with custom developed applications and that it should have a friendly licensing option for your needs. Most critically, it should expose a lot of interfaces to allow third party applications to connect to it and – in certain cases – drive it.

I think the only vendor which would come close to providing a ready to use Intranet would be SAP – some day soon.

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6 Responses to “Jakob Nielsens’ 10 Best Intranets finds no standard CMS”

  1. Kashyap Says:

    What role do you think a Content Management System plays in improving the usability of an Intranet, btw?

  2. Pranshu Jain Says:

    Hi Kashyap,
    While CMS play a rule in improving the usability, but not lasting differenciators.
    So on intranets – you want standard, non confusing navigation ( which either CMS or Portals can help you with) You want standardized look and feel using some kind of templating- which either CMS or portals give you.
    You want to be able to locate relevant items easily by search.
    You want policies, information, forms etc – and you want to be able to reach the up-to data version of that information all the time. This is where CMS really plays a big role.

    Anyway, the point here is that Intranets are too big and too heterogenous. So the role of a CMS product or a Portal product is not significant. They are essentially portals exposing applications and content. Even for content, the workflow needs will be varied. The task of integrating applications is even bigger.

    So bottomline is that CMS product you use cannot be viewed as creating the difference in terms of usability. The fact that you use a CMS does – to the contnet portion. The fact that you use delivery features (like templating) – provided by either CMS or Portal or core platform – does.


  3. one more nice topic in your blog and nice comments too keep it up, If you advise some more related links to topic. I’m very interested in CMS and all its related subjects.


  4. I found your blog by chance . but i have to say that it’s great blog very useful information and very interesting subjects just greetings and good luck
    i’m not going i will be always checking for updates.I’m very interested in CMS and all its related subjects.

  5. Josef Telmer Says:

    Very useful information. Thanks for this. You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics.I’m very interested in CMS and all its related subjects.

  6. John conrad Says:

    It’s a very interesting subject I was looking around about more information but you got really what i was looking for in your article so thanks and keep it up you have a great blog .
    I’m very interested in CMS and all its related subjects.


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