A Standard Intranet Design?

By Deane Barker on May 26, 2005

Canonical Intranet Homepage: Great article about how intranet homepages are becoming so similar.

[…intranet] homepage layouts are becoming more and more similar over time. We’ve now reached the point where one specific intranet homepage layout is so common that it makes sense to anoint it as the canonical design.

He has a composite of 10 intranet homepages overlaid on top of each other. You can clearly see the design he discussed:

Top horizontal bar: colored background, 100 pixels tall. […] Left column: colored background, 200-250 pixels wide. […] Middle area: white background, 400-600 pixels wide. […] Right column: white background, 200-250 pixels wide.

He’s dead on, and he asks an important question:

Is Intranet Uniformity Good or Bad? Does it matter that most intranet homepages look alike? Not really, since users only see their own company’s intranet design. No risk of confusing two intranets.

The uniformity is also understandable: at some level, intranets all solve the same problem, which is to make a company’s internal information and applications easily available to employees.

I interviewed (and hired) an artist once that told me she wanted to “get away from the inverted-L of Web design” (this was back in 1999, when that design was dominant). I got to thinking about that and — while I agree it can get boring — there’s something nice and standard about it. Much like how you can find the table of contents at the front of a book. Maybe I just don’t have any style.