IBM’s new intranet represents change in intranet design

Intranet design is pretty stale; and most intranets tend to look alike. Intranet design isn’t the most imaginative business, but occasionally an innovator steps forth….

Enter IBM.

IBM undertook a ‘galactic’ intranet redesign a few years ago. In fact, it was a departure for Big Blue to undertake a new design that was very ‘Apple’ – very white and grey. However, the design wasn’t a huge hit with employees, and user satisfaction was lower than hoped.


Employee surveys on the IBM intranet home page, called W3, found that satisfaction levels were dropping far too low for the intranet team’s liking: overall satisfaction had dipped to 67%, which meant in some geographies outside of the U.S. it was below 50%. Slow load times were also a frequent complaint of the 400,000 approximate users.

IBM took notice, undertook scads of additional user research, and rolled-out a bold, new, innovative design this past fall. Denoted as Project Butterfly – a broader initiative of which the intranet home page was one component, but also extended to a manager’s intranet hub, mobile apps for employees, etc. The redesign goal: make employees happier and more productive.

At the heart of the redesign though were a number of problems uncovered in the user research:

  • Unavailable – the home page crashed too often (though available for more than 99% of the time, when it went down it was a big deal)
  • Slow – slow download times
  • Crowded – the home page was too busy
  • Search – on an intranet with tens-of-millions of pages and documents, search results were underwhelming if not poor
  • Mobile – more and more employees were logging onto the intranet via a mobile device, and finding the interface cumbersome

In other words, IBM took employee feedback to heart and really dove deep into the research to find out what employees really wanted.

Read the full article at the Intranet Blog

IBM intranet home page, w3, June 2014

The new IBM intranet home page, w3

Written by Toby Ward

The founder and CEO of Prescient Digital Media, and Social Business interactive, Toby is an internationally recognized and acclaimed expert in the areas of intranets, enterprise technology, intranets, and social media. Among his many clients are Harvard, HSBC, Mastercard, Nintendo, Pepsico, Sony, and many others (download his free white paper on The Social Intranet at