Many companies spend big dollars on their customer-facing websites, attaching great importance to innovative, trend-setting designs with all the bells and whistles. Often it’s a different story when it comes to internal websites. If there is one at all, it’s usually cluttered with outdated content, is impossible to navigate and falls short on engaging users. This is a huge organizational own goal. As a tool for managing company information, communication and collaboration, the internal website – or intranet as it’s also known – has the potential to make a big difference. In this post, we take you through all you need to know, from uses and essential features right through to set-up and ongoing management. We make the process of creating an internal website easy.
Objective Of An Internal Website
So, what’s the big deal with an internal website? What difference will it make to my business? These are very important questions, so let’s make it clear just how a solution like this can contribute to more efficient and effective working across the board. There are many potential benefits on offer with an internal website. Here we highlight just a few of the main ones.
Information is the driving force behind every business. An internal website will make it easier for staff to manage and share that information. Shared folders, files and cloud storage solutions have their limitations. By contrast, your site can act as the central library for all corporate data. Employees can easily share files and data both internally and externally.
What’s more, an advanced search function and intuitive site navigation makes it easy for staff to quickly locate the latest data. An internal website means you could potentially do away with secure file transfer software and shared folders forever. Organized in a way that makes sense to your business, the internal website also allows for anytime, anyplace, anywhere access via an internet connection.
Every staff member will log in to the site every day. So it’s the perfect internal communications tool. Company or team news feeds, blogs and newsletters can keep everyone updated on the latest developments with the same, consistent and timely messages. These tools can also be interactive by allowing staff to comment and provide feedback on stories and updates.
In the context of today’s modern workplaces where telecommuting, flexible working and non-desk personnel are the norm, this ease of communication and ability to engage in two-way conversations with employees is very important.
Collaboration and Joint Working
Companies that offer opportunities for collaboration and joint working tend to be more innovative and creative. More can indeed be achieved when teams work together to reach joint solutions.
An internal website helps to break down barriers and facilitates collaboration. Team or project workspaces can be set up enabling members to securely share information and insights as well as collaborating on documents in real-time via an embedded G Suite or Office 365 app. Access to the workspace is restricted to team members only through a series of site permissions. Rather than sifting through a long and complicated email thread for the latest version of say the digital marketing strategy or whatever the document may be, team members can simultaneously edit and update the document online via the internal website.
Automated Business Processes
An internal website supports more efficient and effective working with automated business processes. Every business involves form filling of one kind or another. From reporting on sales performance and budget monitoring, through to ordering stationery, booking vacation leave, or reserving a carpark space, all companies have a multitude of processes ripe for automation.
An internal website means these everyday processes can be completed online either using the integral forms builder or if preferred, an embedded Google Form. The intranet software will then automatically route the form to the correct manager for approval and action. Management can have better oversight of processes and the potential for errors creeping into the process or forms going astray is greatly reduced.
It makes sense that employees who feel engaged and emotionally connected at work deliver more than their disengaged counterparts. There’s plenty of evidence from the likes of Gallup in particular to support the view employee engagement equates to improved productivity. In addition, engaged employees tend to have a longer tenure with an employer and are less likely to take time off due to sickness or absence.
An internal website can support a corporate program of employee engagement. Improved internal communications are one key driver of employee engagement. The internal website can contribute as follows:
- employee appreciation schemes for reward and recognition which contribute to a sense of value and gratitude
- polls and surveys to canvass staff views on a variety of work-related issues
- corporate calendars to keep employees informed on important company events and deadlines
- online training and development opportunities delivered via the internal website.
Internal Website Essential Features
Now that we have established some of the benefits of an internal website let’s look at the essential features. An internal website will clearly need to deliver on the objectives we have already identified. To this end, the best internal website will have the following features:
Easy To Setup
A site setup that’s simple to follow and quick to implement and which sees you enjoying the benefits all the sooner has to be a priority for any business.
Simple To Manage
And having set-up your internal website, it’s imperative that the software makes it simple to manage on an ongoing basis. Your internal website should allow for easy user and content management.
Easy To Use
To be successful, your internal website needs to be easy for staff to use. This involves a good user interface, visually appealing and engaging design as well as intuitive site navigation and an effective search function. It should also deliver the tools staff need to get the job done.
Quick To Deploy
Who has the time for extensive testing and piloting? An internal website that’s already been tried and tested by other users for functionality and ease of use will have a distinct advantage in the selection process.
With more and more employees working remotely or in non-desk occupations, a mobile-optimized internal website is a must. It means that your employees can be connected and remain productive regardless of any time difference or their location.
Budgets will inevitably play a part. Your internal website has to be cost-effective and deliver a great return on investment.
How To Create An Internal Website
So, we’ve convinced you of the benefits of an internal website and have helped you identify the essential features. But how do you go about creating your internal website? Well, there are three basic options open to you:
1. Do-it-yourself Internal Website
Under this option, you design your own internal website from scratch which is then hosted on the company server. The great advantage of this option is that you end up with an entirely bespoke intranet that is a perfect match for your business and its needs.
The downside is that this option can be both resource and time-intensive. It requires a great deal of technical know-how and the platform will need to be extensively trialed and piloted. The costs soon add up which means it also fails on the cost-effectiveness test.
This option often involves downloading software and using it to create your own intranet. Popular choices include WordPress, SharePoint and Drupal. As well as being readily available, often these choices are free to download which makes it very appealing on the cost-effectiveness front.
There are, however, some disadvantages too. A certain amount of technical know-how is still a must. And if you haven’t got an internal IT resource, then navigating your way around the software can be a challenge for the novice. Furthermore, these options have not been created for the specific purpose of developing an internal website. WordPress, for example, although capable of creating an in-house website is more of a blogging tool. Many businesses have also discovered that the free core offering is quite limited and have ended up supplementing the functionality with add-ons and plug-ins that often have a high-cost implication.
There is still the issue of hosting to resolve too. If you already have a company server, then it could be possible to host the software on the existing server. However, if you don’t have a server, then that’s an extra expense that you will need to factor in.
3. Cloud Intranet Software
With this option, you create your internal website using customizable pre-built intranet templates. The internal website is then hosted in the cloud by a specialist intranet provider. Cloud intranet software ticks a number of the essential features we identified earlier.
Easy To Setup
An easy-to-follow site setup wizard means that you don’t need to have any great technical knowledge to get an internal website up and running.
What’s more, the templates are fully customizable. Select from a range of powerful modules and then put in place your own company stamp in terms of colors, fonts, graphics, videos, logos and branding for a truly unique solution.
Simple To Manage
Whether it’s content or users, the cloud intranet comes with a set of intuitive administration tools that make it simple to manage on an ongoing basis. Bulk management tools allow you to add, enable, disable and delete users. And utilizing a set of site permissions and rules, you can grant or deny access to content so that when appropriate, it’s restricted to only those staff that need to know.
Likewise creating, editing and publishing content is a simple process. A drag and drop page builder wizard means you can easily create new pages or sub-pages and add text, images or graphics. Keeping your content updated and fresh is an easy task with a cloud intranet.
Easy To Use
What’s more, the intranet templates utilize a familiar file explorer interface that users will feel immediately comfortable with. Navigating their way around the site will be easy and is supported by an advanced search function so staff can quickly find what they need.
In addition, the wide variety of tools and modules available will support the employee in accomplishing tasks and getting their day-to-day work done more efficiently and effectively.
Quick To Deploy
The cloud intranet’s templates will have been tried and tested already by the provider which means you can have complete confidence in the tools and functionality. There’s no need for extensive testing or piloting and the simple five-step site builder process means your internal website could be live within just a matter of hours. And because the internal website is so easy to use and manage, there’s no need for an extensive program of staff training to support deployment.
As we’ve seen, a mobile-optimized internal website means remote workers and non-desk staff can access all the same functionality as head office. The cloud intranet templates will be optimized for smaller screens, including smartphones and tablets. It’s not possible to achieve the same precision with a touchscreen. The intranet design needs to be clutter-free and also finger-sensitive while ensuring that staff can still access all the tools and modules they need.
Cloud Intranets Are Cost-effective
Cost certainty is important for any business. All the great features we have identified here are available for a fixed monthly fee. This covers unlimited users as well as unlimited data storage. Cloud intranets, therefore, offer value for money and a great return on investment.
Internal Website: The MyHub Solution
Interested in finding out more about the potential of a cloud intranet to deliver an internal website? Then get in touch with us here at MyHub. We will take you through our super easy intranet – with free templates – in a free demo. We also offer a 14-day no-obligation trial so you can really test out our intranet solution before you sign on the dotted line. Get in touch today.