Based on the exciting changes that are rolling out for modern SharePoint, I think 2019 is going to be the “year of modern” for SharePoint intranets. Within the next few months, most of the key barriers to “going modern” will have been removed the point where many more organizations will jump in. There are still a few big rocks that I know several of my clients are waiting for — including the ability to easily schedule the publishing of pages, multi-lingual sites, and audience targeting in navigation — but we know these are either planned or top of mind for 2019. (See my summary of all the roadmap slides from Ignite 2018.)

If you are thinking about redesigning your intranet — either as you plan your move to modern, you move to the cloud, or if you just want to “hit refresh” on your aging user experience, it’s helpful to see what others have done, along with what is technically possible.

Below are some great resources to guide and inspire your planning efforts. Keep in mind that just because something is relevant for one of the organizations featured in these “top intranet” lists, it doesn’t make it relevant for your organization. The features you need are the ones that drive value for your organization and your users. That said, these are all incredibly helpful resources to guide your approach, get ideas, and benchmark.

Intranet Design Annual 2019 from Nielsen Norman Group

Each January, I look forward to the announcement from Nielsen Norman Group of the Intranet Design Annual. The Intranet Design Annual presents the “The Year’s 10 Best Intranets.” It’s a bit of a misnomer because entries for this award are submitted in May of the previous year, so the winners announced in early January are really the 10 best intranets submitted as of May of the previous year.

The report year notwithstanding, the Intranet Design Annual 2019 includes 690 pages of analysis, summaries, screenshots, explanations of screenshots, and detailed information about the 10 winning intranet design projects, including extremely valuable information about team size and composition, as well as launch and adoption strategies. The report also includes helpful guidance and best practices about intranet planning.

Since I’m “all SharePoint all the time,” the first thing I look for each year is how many solutions are based on SharePoint. This year, it’s six-ish. The “ish” is because two of the solutions leverage SharePoint for collaboration, but the intranet pages are not SharePoint-based. At least one winner leveraged an “intranet-in-a-box” solution reviewed in the ClearBox report discussed below. None of the 2019 winners leverage modern SharePoint — they are all based on the classic SharePoint experience. (I am aware of at least two companies that submitted their modern SharePoint intranets for the NN Group award, but neither made it to the top 10.) It’s exciting to me that all but one of the SharePoint-based winners are cloud-based — a big win for Office 365. It would be great if an intranet based on modern SharePoint wins for 2020.