If you’re finding that there’s just too much to think about or you simply don’t have the time to spend on designing your intranet, then utilizing intranet design templates could be the perfect solution.
Intranet templates are commonly developed by intranet providers as a part of their overall intranet solutions drawing on their expert experience. This allows you to straight away implement layouts and functionality that are based on best practices.
Intranet templates usually include pre-built modules and tools that you then customize to fit your own requirements. Far from being a one-size-fits-all solution, the intranet template allows you to upload logos and images, and develop a color scheme that is reflective of your unique company brand. And if your organization has no use for say the company calendar feature, then you can dispense with that module.
The great advantage of an intranet template is that the functionality has been tried and tested. There’s no need for extensive piloting as there are many companies out there just like yours, which are already using the intranet template. You can, therefore, be confident in the intranet’s functionality and that it does what it says it will.
In addition, because the intranet template is already pre-built it means your intranet can be up and running very quickly. For example, using MyHub’s five-step site builder process, both content and functionality is easily setup with a drag and drop page builder. It’s so intuitive that even a techno novice can produce a professional intranet in a matter of hours. What’s more, cloud providers such as MyHub offer access to a dedicated setup and design expert at no additional cost, making it an even easier choice.
The intranet template also comes with page permissions and site access rules already built into it. All you have to do is customize them to meet your own organizational requirements. The same applies to the ongoing management of the site. It’s a simple process to add, manage or delete single or multiple users as well as creating and editing content or assigning site administration rights to multiple users.
The bottom line is that if time and internal resources are an issue in your business then utilizing an intranet template will take all the hard work out of deploying an intranet.
Customizing The Overall Look And Feel
Whether you are designing your own intranet from scratch or you are using an intranet template and a cloud option, before you get into the nitty gritty of setting the site up it’s important to think about the overall look and feel you want to achieve for your site.Do you want it to be a straight extension of your corporate public-facing brand, perhaps with a formal tone? Or it may be that you want the intranet to have a less formal, more open and collegial feel to it? Whatever option you choose, it’s important to follow it through to all aspects of your intranet and not just the home page.
Be mindful of any brand elements or guidelines that need to be adhered to and so it’s worthwhile checking that guidance on the use of the company logo before you go ahead. Be sure to add custom logos, colors and fonts so that the intranet reflects your existing image and is easily identifiable as being part of the corporate family.
Some intranet providers will issue a client with a default intranet web address (for example, https://yourcompanyname.myhubintranet.com). Consider early on whether you would like to set up a custom domain which is a website address of your choice usually using your own domain. Furthermore, ensure that you have the ability to customize the sending email address for notification emails being sent from your intranet to reduce confusion for your users.
Finally, it’s worthwhile considering whether you want to give your intranet a name. Some businesses have found that naming the intranet gives it a sense of its own identity and helps to boost adoption rates amongst staff. And getting employees involved in choosing a name is a good way to generate a sense of excitement and anticipation around the intranet’s launch.
Things To Consider Around Design And Functionality
With many years’ experience in the business, we know a thing or two about intranets. And over the years we’ve seen many businesses trip up along the way and so we’ve come up with this checklist so that you can avoid some of the pitfalls that others have made before you.
Keep It Simple
Don’t introduce features just for the sake of it. Simplicity really is the best policy certainly to start off with. There should be a specific purpose and organizational need behind every page, module and function and that should be your guiding principle. What’s more, you don’t need to have the complete intranet set up from day one. And so if for example, your intranet comes with a social networking tool, you could look to introduce this slowly to a select group of users to measure any positive or negative impact, rather than pushing ahead with a wholescale implementation. Simple also means having a minimalist page layout – keep it clean and uncluttered for maximum impact and use lots of imagery for visual appeal.
One Page At A Time
Build your intranet one step at a time. Try not to fall into the trap of having lots of pages with only limited information on them. The ideal approach is to build a page, share it with the intranet steering group or key stakeholders, sign it off and ensure any constructive feedback is reflected in the subsequent pages. The last thing you want to do is build an entire site only to discover that it doesn’t meet your key objectives.
Set Up A Test Group
Another approach is to set up a test group to work alongside the steering group but whose task is to test functionality and the logical construction of the site. These will be representatives from the end users who will be using the site every day. Ask them to provide feedback on the intranet’s usability, effectiveness and whether its functionality is set at the right level.
Allow Room For Growth
Hopefully, growth is inevitable in your business and so you will want to ensure your intranet is capable of developing alongside your company. You may not need to utilize all the available functionality just yet, but ideally, you will have a solution that will cater for the future as well.
Agree Your Must-Haves
There will be some features that are non-negotiable. These will form the core of your intranet. You may also have a list of desirable but non-essential features that you can add in over time.
Standard Intranet Features
In our experience, most businesses find the following features to be essential to their intranet setup:
News: team and company news feeds, blogs and newsletters
Cloud storage: a central cloud-based file storage area for all data, information and file sharing
Staff directory: an easily searchable database with profiles, biographies and photos
Company calendars: the central repository for all corporate deadlines, events, product launches or industry conferences and seminars.
Embedded Google Apps or Microsoft Office 360: leverage the investment you’ve already made by embedding these apps directly into your site for more convenient access
Automated forms: use the intranet’s straightforward forms builder to develop online automated business processes thereby reducing the need for paper- or email-based ones
Social intranet: facilitate collaboration and connections amongst staff with social intranet features such as activity walls and follow-me functionality
Forums and chat rooms: give staff members a voice with forums and chat rooms and watch your levels of employee engagement increase
Powerful search tools: this really is an essential tool as without it staff will struggle to maximize the intranet’s full capabilities. An intuitive search function that delivers relevant results by subject, tags, titles or authors in a fraction of a second is a prerequisite for any successful intranet.
For a more in depth list of features and details broken down by their different areas along with supporting videos check out MyHub’s comprehensive intranet features page.