Intranet Development: Making Life Easier For An Intranet Developer

Nov 4, 2022 | 0 comments

You have been tasked with developing an intranet for an important client. How do you choose the right intranet development option? One that meets the customer’s needs at the right price and with minimum risk to your web development agency. Anyone who has developed a bespoke intranet will appreciate what a complex process it can be. And often, there are no guarantees at the end.

This post examines pre-built CMS intranets as a viable option for your customers. And there are many advantages both for you as the developer and your client. You can customize CMS intranets to meet the business requirements of most organizations. The pre-built framework means all the development and testing are already completed and proven. Outsourced cloud hosting offers customers several additional benefits, including security, speed, and dependability.

Customer satisfaction is your top priority. MyHub’s expert designers will work with you to create a customized, fully functioning intranet for your client in 40 days or less. And that’s guaranteed!

Interested? Read on to find out how a pre-built platform makes intranet development much more manageable.

How An Intranet Works

Before we take a deep dive, let’s get back to basics with an explanation of how an intranet works.

An intranet is an internal website accessible only to employees. Like the internet, it uses the transmission control protocol/internet protocol communications standard to connect hosts and users over a LAN. And remote workers can securely log in either using a VPN and/or by using IP whitelisting, making intranets perfect for hybrid workplaces and on-the-go employees.

Intranets use programming languages like HTML, Java, or XML to develop web pages with text, images, video, and audio. These web pages are then displayed to the user just like internet-based sites.

Some organizations allow clients or partners limited access to their intranet outside the LAN. Think graphic designers, accountants, and lawyers sharing information and data with customers. These arrangements are called extranets.

Another variation of intranets is portals. A portal is a gateway allowing access to external enterprise systems and apps. The most common ones are CRM platforms like Salesforce or HR management systems. Portals ensure your people seamlessly access enterprise systems directly from the intranet.

Intranets are flexible platforms that simultaneously address a host of business functions. The end result is improved productivity and efficiency across the board. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Internal communications
  • Knowledge management
  • Team collaboration
  • Streamlined processes
  • Employee engagement
  • Hybrid working

With so many fantastic benefits, it’s no surprise that intranets are the number one choice for digital workplaces.

Custom-Built Intranet Development

When it comes to developing a bespoke intranet, the typical process for a web development agency involves several steps. These include the following:

Requirements Gathering

The first step is gathering information on the client’s requirements and undertaking a needs analysis. This stage involves answering the following questions:

  • What does the client want their intranet to achieve?
  • What key features and business tools are relevant?
  • What are the baseline requirements for data and information?

Often the driving force is a pain point or issues the business is facing that needs to be resolved. It could be:

  • Poor internal communications
  • A need for faster and more accessible information and data sharing
  • A desire to increase productivity with more streamlined processes
  • Problems with departmental information silos

The needs and the solution will vary, so you must have a firm handle on the driving force for an intranet. This step may involve conducting focus groups, staff questionnaires, or workshops. And these will take time to complete.

Information Architecture

Now it’s time to sketch the information architecture for the intranet. You need to identify the site’s main topics and subtopics, all the business processes, information, and data flow diagrams. This step also involves creating an initial sitemap, thumbnails, outlines, and a table of contents.

Design

Next is the overall look and feel of the site. The client will no doubt have views about site design. You will need to work closely with the customer at this stage, which involves a significant investment of time.

During this step, the page grid, page design, and overall graphic elements are created and agreed on. The interface design, all illustrations, and photography are also finalized.

Development

Developing a prototype is next in the process. This ensures the client gets a good feel for the end product and how information will be delivered. From the developer’s perspective, the prototype confirms that the platform meets the organization’s goals and is fit for purpose. It’s also an opportunity to test the site navigation and develop the user interface.

Testing

The final step in the intranet development process is testing. The software will need to be extensively tested for the following:

  • Functionality
  • Code quality
  • Speed
  • Ease of use
  • Ongoing management
  • Reliability
  • Compatibility
  • Mobile optimization
  • Appeal to end users.

As well as ensuring the software is fully functional, you also want confirmation that it meets end users’ needs. This includes visual appeal, ease of use, and achieving the intranet’s overall objectives. Therefore, people not directly involved in the development must complete the testing phase. Internal colleagues or a sample of users from the customer’s business is ideal. Testers should report back on any issues, including programming bugs, broken site links or online forms, and proofreading errors. Furthermore, they should provide feedback on overall design and effectiveness.

As you can see, the bespoke intranet development process is time and labor-intensive. It requires a significant investment from you and the client. Only some companies are willing to make that investment. Moreover, there is inherent risk involved for the web development agency. Even after thoroughly going through all these steps, there are no guarantees that the client will proceed.

Hosted CMS Solutions

By contrast, this option is far less risky for web development agencies. And for the client, it’s a quicker and simpler process. For example, it takes some MyHub customers only three days to launch their platform. For most companies, an identified pain point is the impetus behind an intranet. So, the ability to resolve that issue quickly with a fully functioning intranet will be of great interest to clients.

What’s more, CMS intranets are easily scalable. As the customer’s business grows, so does the platform. Adding users, content, and modules is effortless.

The bottom line is that CMS intranets offer a streamlined, more cost-effective solution for consultants and clients. To demonstrate this, let’s take a deep dive into the intranet development process for CMS intranets.

CMS Intranet Development

Requirements Gathering

Rather than starting from a blank sheet of paper, this time, there is an extensive range of functions and tools in-built into the software. Take your pick from the following:

  • news feeds and blogs
  • document management and sharing systems
  • automated business processes, and online forms
  • interactive employee profiles
  • instant messaging
  • project or team collaboration spaces
  • social intranet features

The truth is that these tools have been developed in response to a broad range of organizations and business needs. Whatever the pain point driving intranet adoption, the in-built features will appeal to most businesses. This approach also has the advantage of framing the client’s expectations upfront about what is achievable. Moreover, it reduces the web development agency’s exposure to the inherent risk of bespoke solutions. Instead, matching functionality against the organization’s needs is relatively easy.

Information Architecture

Pre-built templates eliminate the need to spend a lot of time developing extensive content architecture. A basic sitemap and navigation already exist with powerful modules ready to customize for customers’ needs. And you can make it personal with corporate colors, fonts, and logos.

However, the real beauty of page templates is simplicity. Adding or editing pages and modules is straightforward, reducing the need for extensive pre-planning. It’s also empowering for clients because they can change things around and modify as business requirements shift. And the drag-and-drop functionality means they won’t need a college degree in computing!

Design

Intranet templates have flexible page layouts and options that reflect the latest design best practices. Adding and editing text, images, graphics, videos, and files is a breeze. Customization options mean that even though you use a template, the intranet is unique to your customers’ business and brand.

With all the complex design work taken care of, you have more time to ensure the platform addresses your customers’ pain points.

Development

The development stage is streamlined with a free trial, shared screen tour, or no-obligation demo. Most providers allow customers to test drive the product before signing on the dotted line. There’s no intranet software to install or learning curve involved. The powerful intranet templates already come with basic navigation and site graphics. The simple step-by-step builder with flexible design and page options enables clients to go live within days. Moreover, templates are easy to maintain and deliver a consistent look and coherent navigation throughout the site.

Testing

With this option, all the pre-testing has been done. The web consultant and customer can be confident that it does what it says on the box. Furthermore, CMS intranet templates are regularly tweaked and updated, reflecting the actual experiences of thousands of users. Plus, the design is already optimized for the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets. The customer is assured of mobile functionality.

Pre-testing saves time and plenty of dollars. As a web consultant, you can provide intranet development services more competitively than industry rivals.

And with no setup or ongoing management and maintenance costs, it’s more cost-effective. All of this is covered in a fixed monthly fee, enabling you to provide customer costings more accurately and confidently. Moreover, CMS intranets have proven high availability, uptime, and CPU speeds. The MyHub intranet, for example, typically has 99.9 percent availability and uptime.

It’s an easier sell for consultants when users already utilizing the product can verify that it does the job exceptionally well.

Benefits Of Cloud-Hosted Intranets

Cloud-hosted intranets offer many extra welcome benefits for your customers. Rather than purchasing additional servers and hosting and maintaining their intranet, it’s outsourced to a hosting company. The benefits include:

  • Up-to-date security features
  • Fixed monthly costs
  • Unlimited users
  • Automatic updates and backups.

CMS intranets offer none of the unknowns of bespoke versions. And so, they give customers a better return on investment. And it means less risk for the developer.

From the consultant’s perspective, you can focus more on understanding and delivering against the customer’s requirements. Positioning your agency as responsive and able to deliver gives you a competitive edge. Other agencies may focus more on maximizing the billed hours and revenue raised from intranet development.

And the intuitive, easy-to-follow setup and ongoing management of the templates mean intranet deployment is streamlined. Clients can get started faster and realize the benefits in days rather than weeks or months.

Partner With MyHub Intranet Solutions

Meet your needs and those of your customers by partnering with MyHub. Consistently rated highly on independent review sites, we offer much more than intranet software. We streamline the intranet development process and ensure end-user activities are better aligned. Our platforms are used by intranet development businesses and a wide variety of organizations worldwide. Here are just some of the reasons why.

1. Experience

We’ve been in business for over 20 years and have an unmatched wealth of expertise. We have done it all, from very simple to highly complex, customized platforms.

2. Readily Accessible Support

When it comes to support, not all suppliers are created equal. We work alongside you at every stage, including developing the design, prototype, and launch. And we don’t just stop there. The MyHub team helps with long-term maintenance.

MyHub also has an extensive online library of resources and explainer videos. Plus, our technicians are available to talk you through any gnarly issues.

Help is always on hand with MyHub.

 3. Dedicated Design Service

From frontend to backend development, MyHub’s design service will deliver a fully functioning site in no time. Many off-the-shelf options require you to set up and configure the platform yourself. And for time-pressed business clients, the delay involved will see them looking elsewhere.

Imagine the difference a dedicated design service makes. That’s where MyHub has the edge over others in the market. Our design service removes the complexity and risk for you and your client. We do it all. MyHub’s expert designers will create a customized, working intranet in 40 days or less. Guaranteed.

The process is broken down into three simple stages:

  • Scope and commercials: we gather the requirements, define objectives and timelines, agree on the scope of work and develop a sitemap
  • Site design: includes customization with branding, colors, and logos. Pages are designed, graphics and images are added, and content is uploaded. A document exchange is created and populated. Finally, users are added, and site permissions are set.
  • Launch: the site is now ready to go live. Yay! Handover, training, and post-launch support are included in the service.

MyHub’s design solution is genuinely comprehensive. Our experts are on hand every step of the way. And your clients will be delighted with the speed and responsiveness of the service.

4. Value-Added Services

Here at MyHub, we also deliver a host of value-added services. We advise and support on content migration from other systems. And free site audits, intranet optimization, and post-launch support are also available.

5. Security Guaranteed

Assuring your clients of the security of valuable company data is a top priority. However, we don’t need to tell you how complex security is.

Your customers have to navigate external threats from malware and viruses. And they also need to tackle internal threats. Access control and site permissions are essential. Going it alone is not an option for busy organizations, especially if there’s no internal tech expertise.

With MyHub’s platform, security is guaranteed. Our software comes with firewalls, and two-way SSL encryption, all delivered via Amazon Web Services that meet many industrial security standards, including SOC 2 compliance. That’s one major headache taken care of already.

However, we also maximize internal security. Standard safeguards include forced and automated password resets, easy-to-set page and user permissions, and restricted access based on IP addresses.

In short, you or your customers don’t need to worry about security because we have it covered.

SharePoint Intranets vs. MyHub

Some intranet developers see SharePoint as a good halfway house between bespoke and off-the-shelf. After all, SharePoint is free to download, and as an MS product, it integrates well with Office 365. It comes with a core offering, which you can supplement with plugins for extra functions. And the familiar MS look and feel can be very appealing to customers.

However, SharePoint does have limitations. It’s pretty clunky to set up and use. And for businesses without internal tech expertise, that’s a significant drawback.

Furthermore, the core offering has limited functionality. Most businesses find they need several add-ons to meet their objectives. Often, these plugins come with a price tag. So, what seemed like a cost-effective option quickly becomes an expensive undertaking. Responsibility for upgrading the software rests with the client. And when you have lots of plugins, that’s a confusing and time-consuming job.

Customization options are also limited. It takes work to make a SharePoint intranet on your own. And most often, it ends up feeling like an MS intranet.

Furthermore, there are no add-ons or hidden extras. MyHub’s solution comes with a comprehensive set of pre-built and tested tools, ready to go. The biggest problem is selecting which of our extensive choice to run with.

Our intranet templates are fully customizable for a platform that’s unique every time. Our pre-built intranets ensure rapid deployment when it counts. And they are scalable. As the business grows, so does the MyHub intranet.

What’s more, security is taken care of with the latest industry-standard protection.

And unlike SharePoint, our expert designers are ready to support you at every stage.

Agency Intranet Development Final Thoughts

Intranet development services from a digital agency can help businesses digitalize their in-house processes and transform their operations. With digital transformation statistics showing that only 8% of companies have digital operations across all divisions, digital agencies are well-positioned to provide specialist knowledge and advice to help other companies digitalize. Moreover, an intranet development agency can offer complete solutions for digitalizing business processes, with the latest technology and well-defined processes to ensure success. Here lies a great opportunity for the intranet development partners who will analyze the specific needs of each organization, recommend appropriate adaptations for their business model, and implement customized solutions that maximize efficiency and streamline internal communication.

Looking for an intranet solution that simultaneously meets the needs of customers and your web development agency? Sign up today for MyHub’s free demonstration or no-obligation 14-day trial period and discover how our software makes intranet development effortless.

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