5 Tips for Building an Intranet in SharePoint

Great intranets help employees do their jobs better 

“Man, I love this new intranet!” 

“What? New? The Internet has been around for decades.” 

“No, no, I said in-TRA-net. Our department just had ours rebuilt and it’s amazing!” 

“Oh, wow, ours is ancient. It looks like it was created in Angelfire. So, what makes yours so great?” 

Well…” 

How do you build a great intranet? At Kiefer we’ve been building intranets in SharePoint for over a decade. In that time, we’ve developed some best practices for creating a truly amazing intranet. We know that great intranets are designed with the user in mind and that they help employees do their jobs better. Great intranet sites are well-designed, easy to navigate and seamlessly blend usability and strong design. 

Clickable banner witrh a free download of the Kiefer intranet ebook

A great intranet is an organizational hub where users go for the most important information, to connect with organizational expertise and to collaborate across the organization. So, if a new SharePoint intranet is on your mind, here’s five tips to consider to make your investment payoff. 

Image of SharePoint interface on a laptop and phone
SharePoint Online is an excellent platform for a modern intranet. Simple to maintain, a modern design and robust search capabilities.

Measure Twice, Cut Once 

In other words, spend a lot of time carefully crafting a plan that you’re happy with and your stakeholders will get behind. It’s not a cheap or easy thing, building a new intranet, so you don’t want to start down the path only to find you didn’t plan well or that users wind up hating it. At Kiefer we recommend you construct a plan on four pillars – User Experience, Design, Information Architecture and Governance. 

Focus on User Experience 

User Experience is ultimately why you’re doing this – you want people to have better access to information, better ability to share and collaborate and ultimately be better at their job. Engage your stakeholders on topics including information architecture, visual design, content design, technical design and governance. This is the feedback you need not only to plan well but to execute well.  

Banner for Kiefer Design Studio Intranet Look Book

Conduct an Assessment  

When we’re building an intranet for a client, one of the most critical steps we take is conducting a Fit-Gap assessment. We look closely at both our client’s requirements and their expectations. By conducting a Fit-Gap assessment, we can identify changes to scope, additional requirements, or new priorities. We also use the assessment to determine the level of effort the intranet project will require. When building a new intranet in SharePoint, make sure an assessment is conducted so you’re not (sadly) surprised by the unexpected. 

Banner to download a free non-technical white paper on how to get the most out of SharePoint

Learn to Love Wireframes  

You might think about it but don’t skip the wireframing step. When you spend quality time with wireframes what you’re doing is drafting the blueprint for what you want the look and feel of your intranet to be. Don’t discount how important wireframes will ultimately be in terms of the user experience, which again is largely why we’re doing this to begin with, right? In the wireframing stage, work with your users, ask them what they think and want. In the end, you’ll build support and a better intranet.  

Image of Kiefer Consulting mockups for the California Highway Patrol pblic-facing website.

Don’t Neglect Governance 

This last bit is really important. We can’t recommend enough that you don’t overlook it. Once the intranet is built, make sure you put in place a robust governance plan that defines rules, roles, and responsibility. Generally, at minimum, your governance plan should: 

  • Identify of roles and responsibilities 
  • Define the Intranet content strategy 
  • Determine and assign permissions 
  • Establish community guidelines
  • Designate an administrator 
  • Aim for collaboration and enabling employees to do their jobs better 

Building a new intranet in SharePoint is a project we’ve undertaken for dozens of clients in state and local government. If you have questions about how to do it, why to do it or when to do it, let us know. Our experts are full-time Kiefer employees and they’re here to help.  

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