WordPress Intranet: 7 Of The Biggest Challenges

Apr 19, 2023 | 0 comments

A WordPress intranet can appeal to organizations that want to create an intranet site. Even more so if WordPress already powers your website. WordPress is a free, open-source website creation tool, the world’s most popular content management system. According to the most recent research, up to 43 percent of websites worldwide use WordPress. And when it comes to content management systems, WordPress has an even bigger share of the market at 64 percent.

There’s no doubt 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 incredible flexibility. It may seem like the logical platform for your intranet site. But how well does WordPress perform as an intranet platform?

In this post, we look in detail at a WordPress intranet site. We examine some of the biggest challenges so you can make an informed choice about whether it’s right for your business.

Can You Use WordPress As An Intranet?

The short answer is yes, and the first step is to set up a WordPress website hosted on a public server. Then select your WordPress theme. You can use anyone you like, but an excellent place to start is the intranet-specific theme Woffice.

Next, download and install the all-in-one intranet WordPress plugin to ensure your intranet is a private network for the internal community only. This must-have plugin will restrict access for unauthorized users.

There are two main ways to create a WordPress intranet:

A Locally Hosted Solution

Using options like XAMPP or WAMP, workers can only access the WordPress site when connected to the local network within the physical workplace.

A Hosted WordPress Site With Plugins

This option means staff can access the intranet from anywhere with an internet connection.

The Base Plugins And Themes You Need To Run An Intranet Site

Now it’s time to think about what you want from your intranet, as this will dictate the plugins you select. And there are thousands to choose from. Here are some of the most popular.

BuddyPress

This intranet plugin will foster team building by enabling group discussions. Logged-in users on the same network can connect with each other using private messaging or group discussions. Think of it as a social network and communications hub for your community website.

Heroic Knowledge Base Plugin

The name gives it away. This intranet plugin helps you to create a searchable internal knowledge base for employees. It could be blog articles, media uploads, or FAQs.

WP Project Manager

Project management is a critical task for most businesses. And this WordPress plugin allows you to create, organize, assign, and monitor project tasks and milestones.

Google Drive Embedder

This handy plugin provides easy access to files on Google Drive. File sharing within the local network is straightforward when documents are embedded directly in intranet posts or pages. You can also upload Google Workspace files without leaving the WordPress intranet site.

Private Direct Access

When it comes to protecting media uploads, this intranet plugin is a must-have. It stops unauthorized user accounts and search engines from accessing confidential company documents, media files, and videos from the uploads folder.

Gravity Forms

This popular intranet plugin allows you to create, manage, and customize employee surveys. It’s the right tool to select when you want to harvest employee feedback and opinions.

Setting Up A WordPress Intranet Site

If you want to create a WordPress intranet, you must have your eyes wide open. It’s no easy walk in the park. You will need technical knowledge, time, and resources. But those aren’t the only challenges. Before you start to download the software and create an intranet, here are some other potential issues to consider.

1. WordPress Intranet – Build Or Buy

Is it better to buy or build your company intranet? Creating a bespoke WordPress intranet for large companies with a local server and a dedicated IT team seems like an attractive option. After all, you will create a platform that perfectly matches your organization’s requirements.

However, before you go down that route, make sure that you have fully considered the following 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 local server. However, plugins are available so that workers have direct access remotely.
  • Ongoing security, management, and maintenance of both the server and the software will be your sole responsibility.

Buying an all-in-one intranet now may seem like a better choice.  A WordPress intranet site is cost-effective and relatively easy to set up and manage, right? All that’s needed is just a little tweaking, please consider this very carefully before embarking on what is actually quite complex.

Also, remember that you will need to host the internal network on your server or another hosting platform. And another downside is that boxed WordPress intranet themes and plugins usually have restricted functionality limited by the development schedule of the provider. Instead of being responsive and easily adaptable, your off-the-shelf solution may need replacing after a few years because it hasn’t kept pace with changing business needs.

employee intranet

2. WordPress Intranet Ease of Use

When it comes to intranet sites, top of your list of requirements is how easy the software is to use. Most SMEs do not have dedicated internal IT resources and will be looking for a platform that non-technical staff can easily understand and navigate.

However, one of the main challenges with a WordPress intranet site is its sheer size and complexity. Here at MyHub, we’ve had many conversations with customers who have found WordPress agile and easy to use when it comes to blogging and developing a website. But when using it to create an intranet, many customers have found that it soon presents challenges. That’s why they turned to us for help.

WordPress boasts of a five-minute install. And the initial setup is indeed quick and easy. Furthermore, WordPress benefits from a simple user interface, making it a popular choice for beginners and those not confident with technology.

However, when it comes to building an intranet, the central issue is that WordPress has not been designed as intranet software. The core offering does not naturally lend itself to creating an intranet platform.

Inevitably you will need to draw on WordPress plugins so that it meets your business requirements. And with the many thousands of plugins available, this can be quite a task. Some of these are free, but other plugins are not, so your intranet deployment budget could quickly get out of hand.

Once you stray outside its core blogging/web development purpose, setting permissions and site rules is more complex in a WordPress site. Assigning site permissions and allowing certain staff to access files, edit or add content usually requires additional complex plugins.

The upshot is that a WordPress installation needs an intimate knowledge and experience of WordPress and general technical expertise in CSS. This kind of resource is often unavailable in SMEs. And while specialized contractors are out there to help build your intranet, these obviously come at a cost.

3. WordPress Intranet Themes & Plugins

We’ve already touched on this aspect of WordPress intranets, but it’s so important that we need to consider it in more detail.

On the face of it, with over 60,000 plugins available and many thousands of themes, WordPress offers versatility and the possibility of customizing your intranet to match business needs.  However, scratch below the surface, and the situation is more complicated than you might think.

Let’s say you want your intranet to feature two essential functions: a staff directory and a company calendar. Popular options include the social network BuddyPress plugin for creating employee profiles and Sugar Calendar, which integrates with your WordPress dashboard.

However, you need a separate plugin for each function. And each WordPress intranet plugin is likely supplied by a different developer. Sometimes these are companies, but often third-party plugins come from individual developers. Dealing with so many suppliers can be frustrating and difficult, especially if they have different support policies.

Furthermore, each plugin is likely to have a different schedule for updates. They may not be compatible with your WordPress intranet theme. Often, they have an entirely different look and feel, making for a disjointed user experience. Multiply this by the number of plugins your intranet site will likely require, and you begin to get a feel for the inherent problems with plugins.

Furthermore, while some plugins may be free, often, this is a hook to get you to consider the premium version with paid-for plugins. On closer inspection, the free plugin turns out to be something entirely different.

When creating enhanced functionality using plugins from various suppliers, there is no way to guarantee that all 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 people, especially customer-facing employees or those who spend time on the go interacting with clients.

Quickly accessing information and tools is a critical success factor for any local intranet. A best-of-breed intranet site must be quick and responsive, especially on mobile devices. You can have the best-looking intranet site and fantastic content and tools, but if it doesn’t load in a few seconds, it’s not fit for purpose. Instead, you will 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 are often issues with a WordPress intranet site 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 several security concerns. The software’s popularity means it has been particularly vulnerable to hacking and SQL injections. 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 plugins.

It’s also important to remember that the responsibility to update the software, including plugins, lies firmly with you alone. And if you want to include the latest online security features such as SSL or moving WordPress to HTTPS, you will have to do it yourself.

6. WordPress Intranet Costs

The cost is an essential consideration for any business implementing an intranet. So, how expensive is a WordPress intranet, and what costs are you looking at? Although as an open-source content management system, WordPress is free to use, creating an intranet site is not without some costs.

As we have seen, unless you already have a company server, you must pay for WordPress hosting. However, it’s likely that where you will rack up the most expenses is with premium plugins, themes, and extensions. The truth is that 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 coordinate and manage the platform. Such assistance is readily available, but it’s an extra expense to include in the 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? And who do you contact for help with a minor query?

One significant 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. Furthermore, there are plenty of blogs out there offering insights and advice on various topics. Drawing on all these resources, creating an internal knowledge base for users to dig into is easy.

That said, if you want to pick up the phone and talk through an issue with someone, your options are limited. There’s not a lot of hand-holding available. It’s very much a self-service approach, which doesn’t suit everyone.

Final Thoughts On How To Create A WordPress Intranet

There’s no denying that WordPress is an excellent platform for web development and blogging – even this blog is delivered to you via WordPress. However, when it comes to intranets, the truth is that a WordPress site has its limitations.

WordPress can be just what small organizations with limited budgets need. It will do the job if you just want to create an intranet with basic functionality. However, many businesses find that once they installed WordPress, they quickly outgrew the core offering. And navigating all those plugins soon became a nightmare.

However, WordPress is not the only all-in-one intranet. There is another alternative you may have yet to consider. Let’s take a close look at cloud intranets.

WordPress Intranet Alternative – Cloud Intranets

Cloud intranets have several advantages over their WordPress counterparts. These include:

  • Easily customizable and pretested templates and features, including instant messaging and discussion boards
  • No specific technical knowledge is required
  • Easy to set up with pre-built templates
  • Straightforward ongoing management, both in terms of users and content
  • External secure hosting using the latest online security features, including SSL encryption
  • Purpose-built mobile intranet apps
  • High availability and uptime – typically 99.99%
  • Responsibility for updates and backups remain with the provider
  • Fully integrated all-in-one intranet with no need for additional plugins
  • Fixed monthly charges for greater cost certainty
  • Unlimited data storage included in the monthly fee
  • Ongoing personal support and expert advice are available from the provider

Get Started On Your Cloud Intranet Today!

If you want a fully functioning intranet up and running in no time without any technical know-how, a cloud option is a perfect choice. After all, it makes sense to choose software designed for that specific purpose rather than a hybrid platform initially created for a completely different function.

If you would like to know more about cloud intranets, then contact the expert MyHub team. We are the premier choice for hundreds of businesses of all shapes, sizes, and industries. Sign up today for a free intranet demo or a 14-day trial.

WordPress Intranet Resources

After reading this post, if you have carefully considered the options available and have the technical knowledge plus the extreme patience to go down the WordPress intranet route, we’ve compiled the following resources to help you find the right plugins:

A kindly word of advice, we’ve not performed a deep dive on any of these resources, so you’ll need to check them out in detail yourself. Of course, we’d love you all to try our free intranet trial and save you the hassle of setting this up yourself.

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