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Maybe it’s just that I’m drunk on many hours of intranets and the lack of sleep that comes with a 24-hour event like Digital Workplace 24, but I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy after seeing AMP’s new intranet.

From the second I saw The Hub being presented by Luke Sinclair (@lukesinclair) I realized I was looking at an intranet crafted with tremendous care.

AMP homepage screenshot

AMP’s intranet homepage, with the left-hand navigation using custom iconography

The AMP intranet has a very strong style that offers virtually no hint of the SharePoint 2010 and Newsgator technology behind it.

Perhaps what stood out for me most was the left-hand navigation.

AMP left hand navigation - working at AMP

The navigation expands rightward, rather than down from a global navigation at the page top

Somehow the global navigation that sits on the left side of the page and expands to the right into the screen feels incredibly natural and intuitive, much more so than the traditional top-level global navigation we so frequently see.

Additional impressive elements of the AMP intranet: The use of visuals and Luke’s repeated statements that “our users built the intranet.”

Luke mentioned that employees stated over and over again how important visual content was, rather than dry, text-heavy intranet material. So that’s exactly what Luke’s team delivered.

AMP highly visual content

AMP’s focus on highly visual content was in direct response to employees’ pleas

In addition to the innovative approach to the site’s navigation design, the overall content is very clean. This image shows a page that is clean, clear, and well connected to related content.

AMP Services page of content

A page of very well laid out content

As you might expect from my gushing statements above, I think AMP’s responsive design for mobile interfaces also looks very good.

AMP mobile intranet interface

AMP’s intranet design adapting to a new screen size

The user profiles on The Hub are some of the best I’ve seen from a SharePoint implementation. The SharePoint out-of-the-box profiles, and even Newsgator’s profile pages, don’t look particularly good. But AMP has created a custom design that fits their clean design ethic and improves on the out-of-the-box experience.

AMP profile page

A profile page on AMP’s intranet

Finally, it looks like AMP’s intranet has a strong search interface as well. This may not be highly customized functionally, but it does fit the broader visual format of the rest of the site and is better than what we have seen elsewhere.

AMP search results page

A search results page on AMP’s intranet

During Digital Workplace 24 we’ve seen many intranets that are “different” and that break molds and offer uncommon ways of presenting information and content.

AMP’s intranet stands out to me as an intranet site that may have done the very best job of balancing “different” with “useful.” This intranet is innovative while also adhering to a healthy design ethic that seems to enhance the sites usability and not just make it peculiar.

A big kudos to AMP.

About the author

Ephraim Freed, Communications Manager for the Digital Workplace Group (DWG)Ephraim Freed is a communicator and self-proclaimed “intranet nerd”.

Ephraim works at Riot Games now, but previously worked at DWG overseeing marketing, facilitating in-person & online member events and hosting our monthly webinar, Digital Workplace Live.

Prior to that, as a writer and professional services consultant for social intranet software company, ThoughtFarmer and managed internal communications and launched a social intranet at Oxfam America.

In his spare time Ephraim raises his two baby girls, goes trail running and plays many sports with great mediocrity.

5 Comments

  1. Octavia Maddox

    Thanks for the rave review! I led the design of the AMP intranet. I’d like to explain our user engagement as it was a bit more subtle than described. We did a lot of research with our users to understand their context and a design a solution to fit. Whilst we did co-design sessions to engage users, this generated key themes rather than specifics. If we asked users what they wanted and delivered just that, we wouldn’t have arrived where we did.
    You’ll also be interested to hear that the left navigation is due to collaboration sites being high load usage and wanting to avoid menus opening as users are performing tasks with the ribbon in sharepoint. Fully integrated created a whole load of design challenges!

    Reply
  2. Ephraim Freed

    Thanks for the comment and extra info Octavia!

    When Luke said that “users built it” I suspected there might be a more standard UXD approach than just asking people what they wanted (an explicitly bad practice for building intranets).

    It’s very helpful to know that the left navigation design was inspired by a technical issue, rather than purely a visual design concept. I think some of the best innovations come out of unexpected limitations/parameters.

    It sounds like you’ve got a great skill set: SharePoint technical + user experience design. I’d say that is a fairly uncommon mix of skills, yet is becoming ever more important.

    Thanks again for the comment, and for your great work.

    Reply
    • eh um “users built it” .. I don’t know what I was doing all those weeks on Axure making wireframes and finished designs if users built it. Yeah I used Axure for the final concepts as well, which was a first for me (usually on Photoshop). I was one of the UI UX designers on this one, in fact Octavia and myself really were the core influencers of the overall design and usability. Anyway, thanks for the write up! It’s great to see some responses already out there in the public.

      Reply
  3. Ephraim Freed

    He he. Good point David.

    I think that Luke’s main point was that the site was built around the user perspective, with iterative user input and feedback.

    A lot of intranets are built without that kind of user involvement and user-centered approach.

    From the clean and beautiful layouts its very clear a lot of professional design effort and thoughtful IA work went into AMP’s new intranet. Congrats on producing such a rich site!

    Reply

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