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Intranet Advent Day 21 – Over-personalisation

Intranet Advent Day 21 – Over-personalisation

21We’re counting down to Christmas with a stocking-filler tip every day.

It gets slightly unnerving when someone says “I don’t need to ask you what you want for Christmas, I know exactly the right gift for you”. It’s even more unnerving when online shopping sites try to do it. Similarly, automatic personalisation on intranets is a long-standing concept, but not many companies manage to pull it off well.

One of the early personalization projects I worked on was strongly driven by phonebook details. We looked at people’s profiles and gave them home pages matched to their location, their function, the product line they worked on and the market they covered. This greatly simplified the navigation, but when people wanted to look at another function or brand it was really hard to find.

If you personalise too much – and people don’t understand the logic behind it – then it feels creepy. Moreover, people get disorientated. It’s like taking them blindfold to the exact aisle of the supermarket and thrusting all the ‘relevant’ products at them. It might be a useful starting point, but they don’t have any idea what else is there. Actually going through a menu navigation sometimes helps people get that orientation because they learn the structure as they go.

Sometimes it’s nice if people get you the perfect gift, other times vouchers are very welcome.


Check #intranetadvent for a fresh idea each day.

Sam Marshall

I'm the director of ClearBox Consulting, advising on intranet and digital workplace strategy, SharePoint and online collaboration. I've specialised in intranets and knowledge Management for over 19 years, working with organisations such as Unilever, Astra Zeneca, Akzo Nobel, Sony, Rio Tinto and Diageo. I was responsible for Unilever’s Global Portal Implementation, overseeing the roll-out of over 700 online communities to 90,000 people and consolidating several thousand intranets into a single system.

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