Are you looking for an easy to set up and manage intranet solution? Well, a WordPress intranet could be a very appealing option, especially if your website is already powered by WordPress. In fact, as a free, open-source website creation tool WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world. According to the most recent research, up to 26 percent of websites worldwide use WordPress. And when it comes to content management systems, WordPress has an even bigger share of the market at 60 percent.
There’s no doubting that for public-facing websites and blogs, WordPress is an excellent choice. It’s a powerful platform, is free to download and gives you access to thousands of plugins for great flexibility. And so, it may seem like the logical platform for your company intranet. But how well does WordPress perform as an intranet software choice? In this post, we look in detail at WordPress intranets and examine some of the challenges so that you can make an informed choice about whether it’s appropriate for your business.
1. WordPress Intranet Ease of Use
If you are looking for an intranet solution, then it’s likely that top of your list of requirements is how easy it is to use the intranet software. The majority of small- to medium-sized enterprises do not have a dedicated internal IT resource and so will be looking for a platform that non-technical staff will be able to easily understand and navigate.
However, when it comes to developing an intranet one of the main challenges with WordPress is its sheer size and complexity. Here at MyHub, we’ve had many conversations with customers who have found WordPress to be agile and easy to use when it comes to blogging and developing a website. Try using it to create an intranet, however, and many customers have found that WordPress soon presents difficulties.
WordPress boasts of a five-minute install, and it’s true that the initial setup is quick and easy. What’s more, WordPress benefits from a simple user interface which makes it a popular choice for beginners and those that are not so confident with technology.
However, when it comes to building an intranet, the central issue is that WordPress has not been designed as intranet software. WordPress’s core offering does not naturally lend itself to creating an intranet. This means that you will inevitably need to draw on plugins to supplement the functionality so that it meets your business requirements. And with the many thousands of plugins available, this can be quite a task. Some of these plugins are free, but often they are not and so your intranet deployment budget could quickly get out of hand.
What’s more, setting permissions and site rules is not a straightforward process in WordPress once you stray outside its core blogging/web development purpose. To assign permissions at a page level that allows certain staff members to edit and add content, or setting up rules to restrict access to content, usually requires additional complex plugins.
The upshot is that to configure and administer a WordPress intranet often requires you to have an intimate level of knowledge and experience of WordPress together with general technical expertise in CSS. Often this kind of resource is not available in small- to medium-sized enterprises. And while there are technical resources out there that you can contract to help you build your intranet, these obviously come at a cost.
2. WordPress Intranet Options
Is it better to buy or build your company intranet? For large companies that already have a company server on site and a dedicated IT team, creating a bespoke WordPress intranet that is an exact match to your business requirements can seem like an attractive option. Aside from the disadvantages that we’ve considered above, before you go down that route make sure that you have fully considered the following additional potential pitfalls:
- Developing your own WordPress intranet can be both time and labor intensive.
- You will need to have the physical space to house a server.
- Ongoing security, management, and maintenance of both the server and the intranet will be your sole responsibility.
Buying an off-the-shelf WordPress intranet now may seem like a better choice. They are usually cost-effective and are relatively easy to set up and manage, but you will also be required to host the solution on your own server. Another downside is that boxed WordPress intranet templates and plugins usually offer a very restrictive functionality limited by the development schedule of the provider. Instead of being responsive and easily adaptable, with an off-the-shelf solution you may find that you need to replace it after a few years because it has failed to keep pace with your changing business needs.
3. WordPress Intranet Plugins & Themes
We’ve already touched on this aspect of WordPress intranets, but it’s so important that we need to consider it in more detail.
With almost 55,000 plugins available and many thousands of themes, on the face of it, WordPress offers versatility and the possibility of customizing your intranet to match the needs of your business. However, scratch below the surface and the situation is more complicated than you might think.
Let’s say that the two essential functions you want your intranet to feature are a staff directory and a company calendar. It’s likely that you will need a separate plugin for each function and it may well be that each WordPress intranet plugin is supplied by a different developer. Sometimes these are companies, but often these developers are individuals. Dealing with so many suppliers can be frustrating and difficult, especially if they have different support policies.
What’s more, each plugin is likely to have a different schedule for updates, may not be mobile responsive and may have an entirely different look and feel, making for a disjointed experience for end users. Multiply this by the number of plugins your intranet is likely to require and you begin to get a feel for the inherent problems with plugins.
Furthermore, while some plugins may be free, often this is simply a hook to get you to consider the more premium paid-for plugins. It’s not hard to see, therefore, how the cost of plugins can easily get out of hand.
When trying to create functionality to deliver against different business requirements using plugins from various suppliers, there is no way to guarantee that all of your plugins will play nicely with your chosen WordPress theme. This is where, in most cases, you will need to customize the CSS. It’s also interesting that as of today searching for the term “intranet” under the themes section within WordPress displays “no themes found. Try a different search”. This just goes to show that WordPress may not be the best match for companies looking for a great intranet design to engage their users.
4. WordPress Intranet Site Performance
Page loading times matter to your staff, especially employees that are in customer-facing roles or who spend time out in the field interacting with clients
. Being able to quickly access information and tools will, therefore, be a critical success factor for your intranet. And so to be successful your intranet must be quick and responsive, especially on mobiles and devices. You can have the best looking intranet site and amazing content and tools but if it doesn’t load in a few seconds, then it’s quite simply not fit for purpose. Instead, you are likely to see a dip in the responsiveness of customer services personnel as staff revert to old paper- and email-based systems.
Page loading and site speed is often an issue with WordPress intranets partly because of all the plugins. Setting up, caching and other types of optimization in WordPress can be quite a complex task, once again requiring considerable technical know-how.
5. WordPress Intranet Security
WordPress websites have been the subject of a number of security concerns. The sheer popularity of WordPress means that it has been vulnerable to hacking in the past and SQL injections in particular. Some of these concerns have been addressed in the most recent updates. And although the WordPress core offering is now probably safer than ever, there are still issues with third-party plug-ins.
It’s also important to remember that the responsibility to regularly update the software including any plugins lies firmly with you alone. And if you want to include the latest online security features such as SSL as well as moving WordPress to HTTPS, then you will have to set it up yourself.
6. WordPress Intranet Cost
An important consideration for any business looking at implementing an intranet is, of course, the cost. So, how expensive is a WordPress intranet and what costs are you looking at? Although WordPress as an open source content management system is free to use, creating an intranet site is not without some costs.
As we have seen, unless you already have a company server, then you will need to pay for hosting. However, it’s likely that where you will rack up the most expenses is with premium plugins, themes and extensions. The truth is the core WordPress offering is unlikely to be sufficient to meet all the expectations you have for your intranet. This means you are looking at paying for the additional functionality and features you require.
Another potential cost factor is the need for professional help. As your site becomes increasingly complex, you may need to engage an external consultant to you coordinate and manage the platform. Such help is readily available and indeed can be affordable, but the bottom line is that it’s an expense you need to factor into the intranet budget.
7. WordPress Intranet Support
The possibility of needing professional help leads us nicely onto the issue of ongoing support in general. What do you do if you have a problem with your WordPress intranet? Who can you contact for help with a minor query?
One big advantage of using WordPress is that it has one of the largest online communities. There are several official online support forums and the WordPress website has lots of resources you can refer to including developer documentation and handbooks. And there are plenty of blogs out there offering insights and advice on a variety of topics.
Having said that, if you want to pick up the phone and simply talk through an issue with someone, then your options can be limited. There’s not a lot of hand-holding available, it’s very much a self-service approach, which doesn’t always suit everyone.
WordPress Intranet Alternative – Cloud Intranets
There’s no denying that WordPress is an excellent platform for web development and blogging – even this blog is delivered to you via WordPress – but when it comes to intranets, the truth is it has its limitations.
What then is a viable alternative to a WordPress intranet? The answer is a cloud intranet solution. Cloud intranets have several advantages over their WordPress counterparts. These include:
- Easily customizable and pretested templates and features
- No specific technical knowledge is required
- Easy to set up with a five-step site builder process
- External secure hosting using the very latest online security features including SSL encryption
- Mobile responsiveness
- High availability and uptime – typically 99.99%
- Responsibility for updates and backups remain with the provider
- Fully integrated platform with no need for additional plugins
- Fixed monthly charges for greater cost certainty
- Unlimited number of users and data storage included in the monthly fee
- Ongoing personal support and expert advice available from the provider.
Get Started On Your Cloud Intranet Today!
If you want a fully functioning intranet that can be up and running in a matter of hours without any technical know-how, then a cloud intranet is a perfect choice. Indeed, it makes sense to choose a software solution that has been designed for the specific purpose you require rather than a hybrid platform originally designed for a completely different function.
If you would like to know more about cloud intranets, then get in touch with us at MyHub. MyHub is the premier choice for hundreds of businesses of different sizes and in different markets across the globe. Contact us today for a free intranet demo and to find out why.