Modern Intranet Development: 5 Tips for a Successful Intranet

Chances are you’ve been a user of an Intranet at some point. Every company seems to have one. But how effective are they?

If your organisation has an Intranet and you’re responsible for assessing its effectiveness, you need to ask yourself a number of questions. For example, is your Intranet taking full advantage of modern online technologies? Are you effectively communicating to your target audience? And are you generating value for your key stakeholders based on the time and effort being put into maintaining a corporate Intranet?

In this article we’ll help you answer these questions and evaluate your corporate Intranet so you can be sure you’re not burning valuable resources, and are delivering the best possible Intranet to your internal customers.

1. You should definitely be using a CMS for your Intranet

This is kind of a given in our view, but it’s surprising how many interpretations of what an Intranet actually is which seems to affect internal decision making around content management system use? For example, a SharePoint server with a bunch of files dropped into a folder is not really a best-practice example of a modern day Intranet. Sure, if a central file repository is what you’re looking for, then this is an acceptable format, but let’s be realistic, an Intranet is supposed to be a place where you communicate information on corporate events, news, and provide a place where staff members can interact with each (and download corporate documents), not just access a handful of files.

If your Intranet is not using a content management system, you should ask yourself why? In this instance you should not only be communicating regular content, ideas and developing a positive culture in your organisation, you should also be developing a growing online resource where staff and stakeholders can come together to discuss all things ‘your organisation’.

2. You should be repurposing your internal communications

If your organisation has a social media account, has a regular email marketing strategy in place, or utilises any other forms of push marketing; you should be repurposing portions of your internal communications across your marketing channels.

Of course not all of your communications will be suitable for public consumption, but you’ll probably be surprised how many are. If you're using a CMS to publish content across your Intranet, repurposing key events, announcements, and news items via your social channels is a great way to garner brand awareness, increase the lifespan of your internal updates, and boost the number of eyeballs looking at your updates.

3. Ease of navigation is key

It’s surprising how many corporate Intranets get overloaded with content, are rarely given a visual update, and become a challenge to navigate. How many times have you heard “where’s that document again?”

With this in mind it’s vitally important that you take the time to periodically review your existing Intranet content, map out where your Intranet content will sit, and plan for growth of your Intranet page and document counts to ensure that the navigational logic behind your service is capable of sustaining your content.

Users love websites to be simple to navigate, quick and easy to find and download documents, and in general ‘no hassle’. Keep this in mind when building and maintaining your Intranet architecture and you’ll be well served. And while you're at it, consider adding a document search as backup to your standard navigation!

4. Your Intranet should be mobile responsive

It’s a proven fact that the shift towards access to the Internet is definitely swaying in the direction of mobile. That being said if you are developing an Intranet, you need to take steps to ensure your site is easily accessible via a smartphone or mobile device.

One thing is for sure that if your Intranet is not responsive and your mobile users have to scroll horizontally, your analytics will reflect this in the form of bounce rates and a general lack of visitation across the board. So if your current Intranet is not mobile responsive, it’s not too late to change. You’ll be surprised how quickly a team of expert web developers can implement such a capability across your site, it’s just a matter of some basic CSS and site reconfiguration in most cases.

5. Complicated logins, load time and default home pages

For as long as I have been in and around web development, these three items are the bane of users’ existence when it comes to Intranets. There’s nothing worse than having to install plugins, bypass proxy servers, connect via a VPN, or some other crazy means of accessing basic corporate data when everything can be done via a simple and secure cloud setup.

Not only is this frustrating but it can take forever. If your Intranet is slow loading or behind numerous layers of security, you better be sure there’s something really worth getting a look at, otherwise your users won’t use your service. On the flip-side, if your IT department has forced your Internet Explorer home page to be your corporate Intranet home, this can have just as frustrating an effect. Overuse of corporate Internet pages as a means to drive traffic rarely works and skews analytics, so keep these items in mind when deciding how to serve your Intranet to your internal customers.

Conclusion

Developing and maintaining a corporate Intranet can be tricky if you're new to the space or trying to transform an existing Intranet which has been poorly built. That being said, seeking some professional advice and ensuring you follow the above top tips will definitely help.

If you’re interested in reviewing the performance of your Intranet or further developing your online presence via a corporate Intranet, get in touch with the web development team at OSE.