Four Tips to Freshen up Your Intranet

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Four Tips to Freshen up Your Intranet

By | 2017-09-15T09:49:59+00:00 July 21, 2010|Best Practices, Intranet Applications, Top 5 List|

Lately we have had a few conversations with clients surrounding the design and navigation of their intranet sites. These are clients that have been on the Intranet Connections’ Intranet Software for years, and they are looking to freshen up the site, review content structure and address user expectations.

These days your intranet users are employees who are active with Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and their smart phones. They are more sophisticated and savvy. This doesn’t mean you need to rush out and pay big bucks for an iTunes app on the intranet, but you should be taking a close look at how your intranet provides value to employees. It’s not all about the design, but a few key considerations can go a long way in maximizing the use of your intranet site.

Tip #1 – Make use of new features

When you buy intranet software, you have a fleet of developers providing new features and functionality to your intranet on a regular basis so take advantage of this! When we see a site that is still on version 10 but looks like version 4 we hear “employees don’t like change”. A few weeks later we hear that there are complaints by users who want changes and better functionality. Listen to your employees needs and make use of your upgrades. Implement new features. If they don’t resonate, you can always turn them off.

Tip #2 – Use a clean, fresh design

When you first go live with your intranet, sometimes it’s good to have a bold design theme, lots of graphics and a few boxes on the intranet home page for social-fun content. This helps to drum up interest and attract employees to the new intranet.

That approach does not work well for a mature intranet. Time to drop the big graphics, move the social-fun content down (below the fold) and ensure that front and center you have content that is important to employees and that helps them to be more productive.

To supplement your navigation and help employees find relevant content easier, add a “top 5 finds” to the intranet home page. Use the Stats & Analytics tool to track what areas of the intranet are most used by employees and put links to these areas in the top 5 box. Encourage your users to fill up their “My Bookmarks” box with content they interact with on a regular basis.

For a mature intranet, try a cleaner, fresher approach to your design theme. Swap that dark blue background color with a clean white. Change the site font color to be gray instead of black. Soft is the way to go here. Anything that fights the content for attention needs to go. Add pizzazz with punches of bright color (in moderation). Add orange, lime, or ocean blue color punches with an intranet logo, font highlight color, link colors and small icons. Add more padding around your navigation and widget boxes. When you have a text-heavy home page, slightly more white space padding helps for better reading. All this can be done with point-and-click options in the Theme Builder.

And always-always put “border=0” in your linked <img> tags (custom message boxes). Nothing looks more like circa 1991 web design than seeing the ugly blue border around a linked graphic.

Tip #3 – Rethink your navigation

Think Labels. A menu item called “General Information” does what exactly for employees? Now a menu item labelled “Employee Info, Events & Resources” is something I would click on expecting to find value for me, the employee.

The order of your navigation is also very important. Based on the Worldwide Intranet Challenge

[] employees go to the intranet to find other employees, to find documents that help them do their job, and to perform tasks like filling out a vacation request form. Based on this, perhaps your first listed navigation items should look like:
  • People Directory
  • Documents & Resources
  • Fill out an Online Form
Submit a Support Ticket

Yes your users may get confused at first because what they are used to has now changed, but if you re-order the navigation based on what they look for first on the intranet, you’ll soon be getting kudos instead of complaints.

PS: if your navigation is NOT at the top of the home page real estate, move it on up. Navigation first.

Tip #4 – Give users some power

Although Intranet Connections was originally built with open publishing in mind (open for all employees to publish content) over the years the need for delegated content publishers, security, and content approval workflow has taken over.

If your intranet is ruled more by what managers want than what employees need, take stock in how that is working for the success of your intranet. This is a tool for employees; they need a voice on their tool. Of course there will be areas that are sensitive, where you need security and to run tight control over what is being published. But create areas where you can open it up to all employees and encourage participation and collaboration. Get your employees involved – you might be surprised at their level of responsibility and ability to share valuable information. Suggestion Box, Discussion Forum, News, Blogs and Knowledge Center are good collaborative applications that can engage your employees.

Intranet Design Examples

All of these examples were accomplished with the customization and theme options built into Intranet Connections – you can do this too! You don’t need to be a professional designer. Changing a theme is quick and can be done in a draft state. Play around with colors and show it to your team before you go live with the new design. And we are here to help – that’s our job, so give us a call or send us an email.

Also check out What Attractive Intranets Look Like by Step Two Designs

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By | 2017-09-15T09:49:59+00:00 July 21, 2010|Best Practices, Intranet Applications, Top 5 List|

About the Author:

Carolyn Douglas, Founder of the software Intranet Connections, started her endeavor of creating intranets out of a passion to cater to employees rather than technology. Her philosophy is your intranet can have all the bells and whistles but without employees using it, your intranet is gathering dust. This commitment to simple and easy to use intranet software, combined with amazing customer service that delivers the best of employee engagement ideas and practices, has secured Intranet Connections as one of the leading intranet solutions since its inception in 1999.


  1. Mark Morrell July 22, 2010 at 7:32 am - Reply


    I like your post. It just seems so obvious when it is set out clearly as you have done. The planning based on what is needed is critical to a successful launch.

    One point I would add that I have found works well with BT’s intranet is to beta test a rough design of what it could be like for users to comment upon and beta test to help make sure it is going to meet what people need or can be refined so that it can before launch.

    I tried this with the last re-design of part of our corporate portal, BT Homepage, which people may be interested in seeing as a ‘real life’ example……………… well as contacting you for further expert guidance, of course! 🙂


  2. Jim Ward July 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Excellent blog, Carolyn

    The situation you described

    Just as life and businesses go through cycles such as Centralization vs Decentralization, Outsourcing vs Insourcing, it is my observation of over 40 years in Information Technology that users go through such flows with their wants, needs and preferences for data/information. User demands will change, it’s just part of the gig… Someone once told me the same thing in a more generic form: “Don’t complain about the bumps in the road, they’re just part of the road”.

    If you find yourself getting such complaints as Carolyn described, don’t get defensive, expect to encounter them.

    I strongly recomment that you simply go out and LISTEN to your users. Don’t talk about new technologies or alternative designs or colors and icons, just go out there and let them talk. They have the answers. At first, their complaints will be broad strokes and frustrating to someone who wants to take specific and decisive action. If you just let them continue, they will eventually hone in on the critical items. Just be patient and speak only to ask clarifying questions.

    I hope those thoughts help you put this into perspective.

  3. Gail July 23, 2010 at 5:46 am - Reply

    Regarding tip #3 – we’ve settled on going with alphabetical navigation because our content contributors continually asked for their newest projects to be added to the top of the list. Being a service organization, the intranet team didn’t say ‘no’ so the navigation was constantly changing – this does not serve users. By presenting information alphabetically it is a convention all users know and understand – and if a new item is added to the list – it appears naturally in a ‘predefined’ order rather than a politically based one.

  4. Carolyn Douglas July 25, 2010 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Thank you Gail and Jim for your comments – excellent advice!

  5. […] Intranet connection ha pubblicato un post sulle nuove tendenze del design che cerca di esplorare strade nuove (anche se, a dire il vero, gli esempi proposti non mi sembrano […]

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