Setting up your company intranet site can, at first, seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be.
Developing a company intranet is a high visibility project which everyone at your company will potentially use and have input upon. Getting it right means your company has a chance to have all employees work more efficiently and collaboratively, helping your organization achieve its goals. But it does require planning, as well as support from your leadership team.
If you are embarking on an intranet design or intranet redesign project, here are the 8 important steps you need to plan, design and launch a successful intranet project for your company.
1. Assemble your project team
As a starting point to your intranet design project, you’ll want to assemble a project team. The intranet design team doesn’t have to be large. But there should be some key stakeholders from the departments who will have the greatest responsibility and impact on the intranet, usually the HR and IT department. You’ll also want to have someone on your executive or management team as your “project champion”. This comes in handy when you need someone to fight any internal political or budget battles that can impede the project from moving forward.
2. Pick an Intranet Platform
Nowadays, there are many options for your company intranet. These include:
1. Enterprise software, such as Microsoft Sharepoint
2. SAAS solutions, such as MyHub Intranet
3. WordPress-based private Intranet, such as Woffice, which can exist on your own hosting account or server.
Traditionally, companies have built intranet sites based on options #1 or #2 above. But with the popularity of the WordPress CMS platform for corporate websites, companies are discovering that they can build a WordPress intranet site. WordPress intranet sites come with all the flexibility in design built into WordPress for regular public facing sites, plus the security and privacy features they need. The advantage of a WordPress intranet site is that once the platform is set up, you own it and aren’t obligated to continue to pay monthly software fees, such as with hosted solutions like Sharepoint and other Intranet SaaS solutions.
If you do decide to go with WordPress for your intranet, choosing an established WordPress theme such as Woffice will mean that your intranet will come “fully loaded” with many of the main features and modules you may need for your company intranet site such as wikis, team pages, project management features, company calendars and much more.
3. Determine Users and Project Requirements
Who are your company intranet users and what are their needs? It’s often useful to develop intranet user personas to determine the types of users you are catering to and their functional requirements for the company intranet. Conducting an online survey or “focus group” type meetings with key departments will help flesh out their key requirements, and also help to get their “buy in” on your project as they will feel like they collaborated in the design effort.
During this phase, you also may want to develop a user role/ functions chart to outline an “intranet wish list” with all the different functions and features your intranet might have.
The following sample intranet features checklist can help you plan out the features you need.
Checklist of Typical Intranet Features
Some examples of functions that ALL employees need may include:
– document management
– team workspaces: chat or forum
Certain departments may need:
– Access to job specific training documents/ videos
– Purchase order forms
– Expense claim form
– Vacation Booking form/ calendar
– Tax forms
– Travel requisition
The sales department intranet needs may include:
– customer referral forms
– template sales agreements and proposals
– templated company presentations
– sales “scoreboard”
– access to CRM system
The marketing department intranet needs may include:
– asset library: a gallery with company logos, images and brand guidelines
– marketing support requests/ project requisition
– links to marketing department apps and tools: Adwords, Analytics, SEO software, etc
The accounting/ payroll department intranet needs may include:
– New employee tax forms
– Direct deposit/ payroll form
– pay stubs and tax documents
– financial reports to management
The HR department intranet needs may include:
– The employee handbook online
– Employee directory/ contact list
– Health and Safety documentation
– Access to benefits/ insurance provider portal: to get info on benefits and make claims
– employee evaluation forms
– “company store” – allow employees to order branded items: pens, t-shirts, etc for events or client gifts
– internal/ external job board
– employee referral form
– company news/ announcement
– new employee announcements, departures, retirements, promotion
– photos from company events
– event calendar
The IT department intranet need may include:
– an IT support request form
– computer equipment request
– access / password control
Executive Management’s intranet needs may include:
– copies of meeting presentation available online
– mission and vision documents
– organizational structure
4. Intranet Content Outline
Content creation and collection is often the biggest hurdle when putting together your intranet site. Once you determine user requirements for all your different company departments, it’s time to create a content outline of the main sections and content of your intranet. A typical intranet content schedule maps out all the content in your intranet site and assigns content responsibilities to different team members. This is a great way to “decide, divide and conquer” when it comes to the often heavy responsibility of creating and collecting all of a company’s important intranet content. Once completed, have all your stakeholders sign off on the intranet content outline before you assign everyone’s roles. If you’re working with a WordPress based Intranet such as Woffice, your users will have access to a familiar and easy to manage CMS to add articles, blog posts, and other important content.
Sample Website Content Planning Schedule: Assigns responsibility for website content, pages and sections to different team members in your company.
5. Intranet Design and Development
Once the key stakeholders sign off on the intranet’ s functionality and content, its time to start planning the design and starting on the development. If you’re designing from scratch, you may begin with an intranet wireframe. Or if you’re using a WordPress theme such as Woffice, you can begin with a template and build out the modules and pages you need.
6. Creating and Assembling Intranet Content
Where many intranet projects get stalled is the content creation/ collection phase. Often companies lack a dedicated resource to write articles and content to populate the intranet, and to gather it all together in time for a successful launch. Internal communications projects often get short shrift and content creation is often the neglected piece in the Intranet design process. To avoid the situation where you end up developing an Intranet that is a pretty template, but empty of photos and articles to populate it, make sure that you have content delegated to a dedicated team member. Alternatively, if an external creative agency is tasked with helping you with your intranet development, you can potentially partner with them on the content component as well. Having a content schedule can help guide content collection by delegating it to the different members of your intranet project team, providing further accountability.
Regardless of who is producing your content, most intranet solutions such as WordPress based Woffice, as well as most other commercial applications, have a built in Content Management System (CMS). So once the site is up, you should be able to manage all the content on your company intranet site, without having to write a line of code.
7. Intranet Usability Testing and Bug Testing
Your intranet site is launched on your test/ development server and it’s ready to be tested by real users! While you may be tempted to launch live, it’s important to conduct some user testing. You may want to recruit a group of internal testers to put your nascent intranet site through the wringer and identify any bugs or issues. It’s important that the people testing the intranet are not the same people who designed and developed it. Just like editing your own writing, spotting bugs in software you shouldn’t be left to the developers who designed the site.
Ensure that your testers are armed with a list of common tasks to perform on the site such as “register as a new user”, “look up company events”, or “fill out benefits claim form”. Give them minimal instructions and schedule test sessions where a member of the Intranet committee looks over the shoulder of someone performing task on the site. This is the time to discover if any major functions or features are broken, or if the user interface is just plain confusing! In our own website testing for napkin marketing intranet clients, we often recruit as testers the least tech savvy members of an organization. If both your company’s oldest and youngest employees are comfortable using the intranet, you know you’ve hit the design and usability jackpot!
Like regular websites, most users will want access your website on their smart phone. So remember to test your intranet site on various mobile as well as desktop platforms as part of your user testing regimen. Another important aspect of UX testing for intranets is to ensure you test different access levels. Different teams and job levels within an organization often need confidential access to different documents and sections of the intranet. Make sure users are recruited to test and access content and ensure any protected content or admin-only functionality is accessible at the right user levels.
8. Intranet Launch and Promotion
An example of a poster promoting a company’s intranet to employees and encouraging them to use it. To rally employees to become users, an intranet launch should be promoted and communicated internally with as much pomp, ceremony, and enthusiasm as you would an external product launch or marketing campaign.
Congrats! Your internet has passed user testing. Bugs are fixed. T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. It’s time to put your intranet site live. Now is the time to make sure that everyone in your organization has their login instructions. Make sure that your intranet launch is treated like a real product launch. This may include:
• A special intranet announcement email from management
• An intranet launch party or special event to generate excitement and buzz at the company.
• Intranet training and demo sessions for every employee team, both in-house and remote.
• Documentation and help documents that give a step by step breakdown of common tasks.
A good testing and launch phase will ensure your intranet site gets widely adopted and used across the organization, and you look like the project hero you are.
Adina Zaiontz is director at napkin marketing, a digital marketing agency and the North American intranet development and design partner for Woffice. While many companies take on intranet development in-house, to get the project done expeditiously, you may want to turn to a specialist Intranet design firm like napkin marketing to help design and manage development for your intranet site. napkin marketing helps organizations of all sizes plan, design, set up and customize their company intranet. See our Intranet Design Services page for more info or contact us to get started on your intranet project.