Why iGoogle Is a Stupid Model for the Intranet Home Page


Friends don’t let friends model their intranets after iGoogle

Do you use iGoogle? I don’t. I played around with it once. I dragged a few widgets around the screen and thought, that’s kinda neat. Now, what was I searching for again?

Apparently there are some people that use iGoogle, judging by the outcry when they changed it slightly back in 2008. Maybe you use it too. But please, please, don’t use iGoogle as a model for your intranet home page. And don’t let a vendor sell you their uberpersonalizable drag-and-drop customizable widget-laden portal software. iGoogle is a stupid model for an intranet. Here’s why:

Jakob Nielsen Doesn't Like It
If Jakob Nielsen says users don’t customize, who are we to argue?


What’s that, you say? You change defaults? Okay, let me reword that slightly.


If they did, Google wouldn’t be willing to pay millions of dollars to Mozilla to be the default search engine in FireFox. Jakob Nielsen wouldn’t write articles about the power of defaults. And we wouldn’t have had to design the ThoughtFarmer Personal Home Page.

See, although people don’t change the defaults, they do have different needs, especially out of their intranet. And they have different needs even when they work at the same company. The HR manager goes to the intranet for different reasons than the accountant just down the hall, and for different reasons than an engineer in R&D or than a customer service rep in the call center.

This is where role-based personalization comes in, or audience segmentation. To deliver relevant content to each employee, the intranet manager needs to embark on a project to define the roles within the company, and then to define the content that needs delivered to each of those roles.

Our new Personal Home Page feature in ThoughtFarmer 3.6 makes implementing a role-based intranet home page a snap. And through Active Directory sync, managing the members of each role is usually a completely automated process. Watch the 69-second video demo below.

Oh, and if 95% of people don’t change defaults, why did Google come out with iGoogle? Because when you have 200 million users, that 5% is still a huge number of people. At your 1000-person company, though, invest in role-based personalization that benefits all 1000 employees, not widget-mania that serves 50.