5 Things to consider for an intranet

5 Things to consider for an intranet

Written on: 10/10/2011

Recently I was tasked with building an intranet for a client of mine, now to all intents and purposes, an intranet is just an internal website. Right? Wrong!

An intranet needs to be so much more than that now. People need to be able to communicate efficiently through their staff intranet for it to really work.

Whilst running through the first few documents and specifications that myself and the client had been drawing up, I noted a few things that are really key to consider when building an intranet… and here they are:

1. The user comes first
The users of the intranet will be using this day in and day out for all kinds of important information. If you think user experience is important for a normal website, then you have to double it for an intranet. If the users find it hard to use, or simply don’t like how it functions, you will end up with a switch off, and it will be very hard to sway them back.

2. Content will be changing all the time
This isn’t a static site with one boring news feed, no no… they will more than likely be adding brand materials, new staff, latest news, events and all sorts of things, so the design and development need to reflect that. Make sure you are creating something that is dynamic by nature – something that keeps up with the sheer weight of changes on the site – it is no point having a 3 point latest news feed if 5 or 6 get uploaded every day. Make sure you know what you are designing for.

3. It is a work tool, not a social tool.
Remember, you are developing something that aids work – not allows people to chat inanely about their social lives, or what happened on EastEnders last night. That being said, we can’t make it too boring or who is going to visit it? You need to find a good balance of work and social on your intranet, that way you will keep your staff happy, but also informed about what is happening in their workplace.

4. Be aware of technology
Major pitfall on my part – I programmed the whole thing, only to be told that everyone uses IE7 in the offices, now, don’t get me wrong, I work back to IE7, so it wasn’t a massive issue – BUT, that being said, you should always be aware of the technology you are designing and developing for in advance, that way you avoid a major pitfall and make your life so much easier as you only have to develop for one single browser!

5. Make it easy
Nobody wants to be trawling through pages and pages of waffle and crap to find a logo they really needed for a presentation – so make things as easy as possible for them to find. Perhaps they need a logo, perhaps they need to get the contact details for the nice lady in HR, whatever it is, it should be very easily accessible… this means a good, working search and a simple structure to the whole intranet.

These are just a few little things I picked up from the project – I hope that you find them helpful if you ever work on an intranet project 🙂

Good luck

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