In This Article
The goal of this introduction is to give you a core understanding of the moving parts within the intranet, how content flows, common use cases, and examples for inspiration.
What is the purpose of an Intranet?
The intranet provides an opportunity to review and tweak current processes and documents, and discard irrelevant ones; this will be pivotal for the intranet to become a reliable resource for employees. It also serves as a communication tool of being able to reach all staff without flooding their inboxes with All-Staff emails.
Involve key stakeholders to determine what the Intranet needs to do for your organization as this will need to be included in the communication to staff about what it will be used for and why it’s important.
Basic functionality provided
At its core, the intranet serves as a resource and communication tool for your employees. Common uses include:
- Document repository
- Workflow processes
Email notifications can be configured to help drive users to the intranet during the transition phase for onboarding employees and can later be disabled.
Accessing the software
Now that your software has been installed, you can access it using the link provided by your IT team.
To log in, you’ll either be using your Windows computer login (Single Sign-On), or you’ll be prompted for a username and password. Our Support team assists with Installation, as well as connecting to your Active Directory to pull in Employees.
Active Directory Considerations
- You can sync Logins only (access and security with basic information such as name and email), Employees (Logins and Employee profile information for the Employee Directory), and Groups (used for security)
- If you’re pulling in Employee information from Active Directory, the Department field is required
- Intranet users group - create a group within AD that Intranet users will be assigned to. This should start off with a small subset of users that are responsible for building the intranet
- Service accounts – Many Active Directories contain service accounts with their employees, the best way to avoid bringing these accounts over to your intranet is by creating a Group (e.g. Intranet Users) and applying this group to all employees that will need to be included with the intranet
- Anniversary and Birthday dates can’t be synced with Active Directory, these can be added manually by the employee if allowed, or added in bulk through import CSV
The AD Synchronization process can only update employees that our software can see; if you’re targeting employees by a group or OU, and the employee leaves that group/OU, our software will leave the employee active as it no longer sees that employee.
Planning phase - Where do I start?
Plan where things will live on the intranet. You can either use the intranet as it comes out-of-the-box (see our Repurpose demo content article for how to remove or hide unrelated content), or customize it to reflect how things are structured within your organization. For example, if you have departments looking to share things within their team but not relevant to people outside of the department, these items would best live within a team/dept site.
Building the Foundation
In order to populate the content on the homepage, we suggest building the content in this order:
- Sites - In order to add Apps and Pages, they need a site to be created within. If you want to add them to the Home site,
- Apps - Content and files need a place to live and this is typically within an Application. Files can't be uploaded into a page and require a folder within an app.
- Add at least 1 item to each app you create so that you can see what this looks like on the page once you've added a content feed widget.
- Pages - Pages consist of a combination of static (images and text) and dynamic (information fed in from an app automatically) content. If you haven't built the content within the app, you won't be able to pull in any content within a widget.
- Add to navigation - Whether you're adding an app or page to the Home Site or a new Team/Dept site, you'll need to add these new assets as navigation items for users to be able to access them.
- Add Widgets - Now that you've added the necessary foundation, navigate to the homepage of the corresponding site or your main Home page > edit the page > add a new widget and select the Content Feed option. From here, you'll select between What's New (looks at all content which you've selected to 'advertise') or Application Feed (allows you to choose from the available app(s) that you want to feed in.
A basic foundation for how you can start building out your intranet can look something like this:
This is the landing page where all employees begin their journey on the intranet. In the home page example below, you'll see 4 images at the top of the page which is the Storyboard, below this, are many boxes that contain a mix of static and dynamic content.
A visual example of a home page within the software:
For optimal performance on your home page, keep external content to a minimum (e.g. RSS feeds, weather, news tickers, etc.)
We've compiled a wireframe which includes our recommendations for how content should be arranged on the home page:
Digging in further to the type of content you may display on your homepage and some key use cases:
- Navigation and Quick Links – this should be a small list of links that are commonly needed by employees
- Global navigation using single links, single menu links, and mega menus
- Left site navigation using a Menu widget – Categorize into more than one menu widget if desired
- New Announcements
- Company News app
- Required reads/actions
- Documents app with Review date and Read/Confirm enabled for required documents
- Employee engagement-focused content/links
- Quick poll widget for fun engagement
- Storyboard cards
- Important information (e.g. upcoming company/location events, change management, etc)
- Company news app advertised to the What’s New feed
How should it look?
Visual elements help draw the eye to areas of importance, but the navigation should also be clear and well thought out. If people can’t find what they’re looking for, they will be less likely to come back and keep using it.
Try to avoid too much text as information will get lost. It’s best to focus on highlights (e.g. updates, announcements, employee spotlight) for information added to the page, and lead users to learn more by navigating to the app where the information lives.
- Use images for important announcements
- Quick links for the most commonly accessed items
- Visual buttons
- Top navigation should have limited categories with clear names (Use card sorting to build effective navigation)
- Create a learning resource designed to help users learn how to use the intranet
Team/Dept landing pages
While the Team/Dept site pages aren’t your main home page, they do serve up content specific to the team/dept that utilizes that page. Some considerations of what to include:
- Team/dept specific resources/links
- Left site navigation using a menu widget
- Company News app advertised to What’s New feed widget on dept home page
- New documents/items
- Application feed widget showing recent documents
- Quarterly milestones with current status (optional)
- Message Box widget using HTML editor
- Social media/RSS feed (optional)
- Custom code widget – use google to locate the code for a facebook or twitter feed for a website widget
- RSS feed widget will display the feed information from any RSS feed link (e.g. http://rss.cnn.com/rss/cnn_topstories.rss)
- Team widget
- Employee Profiles with the department selected
An example of what this might look like:
Building phase – Where do I put my content?
Now that you have a basic structure, how do you start adding in your content? This will depend on the type of content you’re looking to add. While home pages are great places to draw attention and serve up information, the content won’t be searchable (e.g. text within a Message Box widget), and most of your content will live within an application. Applications store your content within folders which can have approval processes applied (workflow). Content Feed widgets are used to highlight new items added, announcements, etc., which display on the home page and are pulled from the application.
To help illustrate how the content is fed to the homepage, please refer to the image below. The top image is within the application where the content lives, and the bottom image is the Widget on the homepage is announcing that something new has just been published.
When trying to determine the best place for content to live, one key thing to remember is that the homepage is not meant to host all of the information that employees will need. Instead, it should be a hub where employees can easily navigate to the apps or source of where the content lives. While Widgets can serve up content from an App, the layout and the metadata you can display within them are limited; this is controlled and viewed within the application.
Here’s a breakdown of the common types of content and the apps used:
Documents and Policies
- Documents app is used to store final copies of documents
- You can have many document apps and each containing their own workflow as needed
Are you bringing over documents from a previous application? We have 2 import methods available:
- Multiple File Upload within a folder
- Document owners can drag and drop their files directly into the folders they manage.
- This method will ensure they’re listed as the document owner and retain full rights over these documents.
- Metadata won’t be included and the title will be the name of the file
- Information can be added later as needed
- Import CSV
- Unlike Multiple File Upload, you can include metadata for each file being uploaded to the application using a CSV file which can be mapped to the desired field within the documents app
- Document files are uploaded into the selected folder (folders containing subfolders aren’t possible)
- One file per item can be attached in this method (up to a max of 25 files total)
Fields can be mapped with the names of the columns within your CSV file:
News, Announcements, and Communications
- Company News app is used for posting announcements and the layout can be customized
- Blogs are typically used to replace newsletters (depending on the frequency and cadence of your information)
- Common use cases for using the Blogs app:
- Management disseminating information to all employees
- Communicating changes within the organization
- Foster engagement with employees through comments
- Content can be scheduled in the future
- Allows the ability to add images and videos through the HTML editor
Paper forms with approval processes
- Online Forms - this app is typically used to replace existing paper forms by rebuilding them for collecting information, test employee knowledge, and survey for results
- File upload is available as a form type if you wish to store pdf forms in the same app
- The workflow process can be implemented (conditional options available based on content within the form)
- Some examples of how our customers use fillable forms in the intranet:
- Expense submissions
- Onboarding/offboarding checklists
- Health and Safety, Knowledge tests (automatic scoring for multiple choice answers)
- Surveys for employee feedback
- Customer/Account change forms
- Anonymous feedback form
Events/Vacation Calendars/Meeting room bookings
- The Events calendar app can be used for displaying various events in a calendar view, examples of this include:
- Vacation calendar (approval process can be enabled to request approval from employee’s supervisor)
- Date conflict checking to ensure no overlap of scheduled events/meeting room bookings
- Visual display on a team/dept site of when team members may be out of office/vacation/at a conference
- On-call schedule
- Potluck with an online form to collect who brings what
- The Training Calendar app is used for training or registrations
- Internal training/onboarding of employees
- Flu clinic – schedule multiple sessions with 1 open seat so employees can book in their time
- Lunch and learns
- Social events
Design phase - Populating the Home Page
Now that you’ve added content to your applications, this is a great time to see how the information will pull together on your homepage, focus on the layout of information, and guide your users to where you want them to go.
Application feed widgets
- This widget is meant to pull in items that have recently been added; information is ordered by date of publication
- This widget is commonly used to display recent items added to apps (e.g. recently added documents, upcoming events, upcoming training sessions, new photos, etc)
- Appbuilder refers to apps that can have fields and layouts customized (e.g. Documents, Company News, Knowledgebase, etc)
Select the app(s) that you wish to feed into the Application feed widget:
Displaying content from the selected app(s):
What’s New feed
- Unlike the application feed widget, this widget doesn’t need to target specific apps, it looks for anything that has been advertised. This widget can show information isolated to a specific site, or even pushed up to the home site from a Team/Department site.
- This content is dynamic and can be configured to show x number of items within this widget.
- As new content is advertised, other content will be pushed down into the What's New archives which is available by clicking the 'view more' option that appears at the bottom of the widget.
This example shows a What's New feed widget on the Home page:
Push content from your team site to the Home site by clicking the Home icon shown below:
- Advertised content will remain on a Whats New feed for 7 days by default. This can be adjusted within each App’s Advertising Options Your advertised items will be pushed down the feed as new content is added, up until the number of items displayed in the widget has been filled. There are a few reasons as to why items disappear from the Whats New feed:
- Number of items to display has been reached and older content is moved into Whats New archives
- Item has been archived using the archive date field within the application
- Delete icon beside the advertised item has been clicked
- Published item has been archived to the Whats New archives based on the application’s Advertising Options shown below
- This widget is used primarily to pull in blog content from the selected Blog(s)
- You have the option to include the entire blog post can be shown, or only show a limited number of characters (any images or videos embedded will be removed leaving only plain text)
If nothing is displaying in your Blog Feed widget, check that your post has been published in the app. Creating a Blog without a post won’t display on your widget.
Site Widget feed
- This widget allows you to target a Message Box widget on a team site and publish it on the Home page of your Intranet
- Common examples of why this may be relevant:
- Require some employees to have limited rights where you would only want them managing a specific widget on the home page
- Cafeteria menus
- Quick updates for staff that don’t need to be retained for future audit or review (e.g. IT Announcement alerting that Phone systems are down with approximate resolution times)
- This widget is used for spotlighting employees
- Common uses include:
- New hires within your organization
- Employee recognition
- Employees within Team/Dept sites (e.g. Meet the Team)
- Information pulled into this widget come directly from the Employee’s profile – most of this information can be synced from Active Directory
Engaging Employees into the intranet
Once you have a framework of the intranet in place, it’s time to start sharing it with your team. Now it’s time to build up the excitement for your upcoming launch! Come up with some graphics and catchy announcements to highlight the new software, what it will do for the employees, key resources they can find, contest, etc.
Some top reasons our customer’s employees love navigating to their intranets:
- Employee Appreciation – who doesn’t love being recognized? Spotlight employees through an employee profile widget, or through the Employee Recognition app that you can build within your software.
- Photos of events – Showcase fun events both internal and external
- Events – announce that all upcoming events and activities happening within your organization, as well as dates/time will be updated on the intranet
- Contests – Who doesn’t love winning a prize? Encourage adoption for top poster, scavenger hunts on the intranet, quick polls to entice employee voting for upcoming events
- Make it fun – theme by season/quarter milestone theme
- Train them to go back by constantly updating with both the important information, as well as the fun stuff
- Encourage constant updates through contests or recognition for use within the intranet
Getting Comfortable with the Software
Try some of the following tasks below to get a basic feel for how to add content and manage the look of the home page.
- Add an announcement
- Click ‘Make an Announcement’ from the left ‘Quick Links’ menu (this may say Company News in your current installation ahead of switching you to the same demo look and feel)
- Add a title and a brief summary
- Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click ‘Advertise Now’
- Click ‘Save’
- You should be taken back to the home page and see the new announcement in your What’s New feed
- Try moving content around the home page
- Click ‘Edit page’ from your top toolbar
- Hover over the top widget, when it turns blue, you will see a bar above the blue space with a move icon as indicated below:
- Try dragging this box below the widget directly below it
- Alternatively, you can drag it into the right column if one exists, if not, click the icon to add a column to the right:
- Add an Employee Profile widget
- While hovering over the top widget, click the icon to add a row below:
- Choose ‘Social Widgets’ from the Build tool pop-up > Employee Profiles
- Title the widget the name of your Department (e.g. Meet the IT team)
- Select the IT department from the department list dropdown > click ‘add entire IT department’
- This will add a widget to show all employees within the IT department
- Click ‘Save Widgets’ at the bottom of your screen
- Add additional links to the left navigation menu widget
- Edit the left navigation column by hovering over the admin icon in the toolbar > click ‘Navigation | Menu’
- Hover over the Quick Links (Menu) widget on the left column and click the pencil icon that appears
- Add a link to your company’s website
- Click ‘Link’ from the asset type buttons
- Type or paste your website’s URL into the Link Address field
- Add a name for this link into the Link Name field
- Click ‘save widgets’ at the bottom of your screen
- Edit the left navigation column by hovering over the admin icon in the toolbar > click ‘Navigation | Menu’