Intranet home page design 101

This is the first in a series of articles that will guide you through the rewards of powerful intranet homepage design and best practices! That ubiquitous webpage that opens whenever you launch your browser at work: it’s under-appreciated yet over-utilized, built for the masses yet not personalized enough, essential to the day-to-day while taken for granted by management.

The intranet homepage is something everyone usually needs, yet frequently, it’s poorly managed and under-supported. It’s generally forgotten by the C-suite or deemed not a big deal when it comes to information management, communications, and even brand reinforcement, even though it’s one of the best tools for connecting your employees to your strategic plan.

The intranet homepage can be the place many feel most comfortable. That first double-click in the morning for many is their browser, which usually opens that homepage. It quickly becomes a personal blankie at work that provides needed information, whose layout is so well known that many can mouse to their most important links with their eyes closed.

It’s the internal map to get to your work, the place to learn about successes, catch up on company metrics, hear about news, follow upcoming events, and for many it’s even the place to hold informal conversations in newsfeeds and discussion boards.

The intranet homepage is one of the most vital—and community-affirming—tools in the quiver of a company’s communication and change management plans. It is a virtual town square in a working world moving ever more online. But, quite frequently, it’s overlooked.

And the impact isn’t just from the intranet homepage. It’s the homepages of other major sites in your intranet. Local information is, many times, more useful to the everyday employee than the company-wide stuff. And frequently, the local control obtained from owning one of these sites makes a department homepage more content-drive and useful, albeit usually uglier, less organized, and not laid out well due to a lack of expertise on the content owner.

This is the introduction to a series on building out your intranet homepage, from someone who’s led the design or redesign of many. I know: your organization is special, one of a kind, a unique snowflake. The musings of a consultant couldn’t possibly be applicable to you. But, speaking from experience, your situation has a lot more in common with your corporate neighbor than you may think. So it’s worth taking a look at this guidance since you can almost certainly benefit from best practices and guidelines laid out by those who’ve come before you.

This series will help when you rebuild or redesign a new intranet homepage, one that provides good, useful content, but also provides guidance and support for local organizational homepages elsewhere in your intranet. A holistic approach to your intranet is important. Strategy is key; ad hoc decisions are dangerous. And strong ownership and vision are paramount to an exceptional intranet throughout the system.

I won’t claim formal expertise. I don’t have degrees in design, web development, or information management. But I have gained experience in communicating ideas, laying them out, setting policies, directing strategy, and leading teams in creative roles – all for the sake of top-notch homepage designs. And I do all this in Office 365, specifically SharePoint Online in this case.

Using the newest and most powerful tools at our disposal, I hope this series will be a resource for building powerful, eye-pleasing, and informative homepages throughout your intranet. Ones that require minimal coding (if any) and easy upkeep. So let’s get started with part one.

You can also find Part two and Part three here.

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Intranet projects are a lot of work but are an integral part of internal culture and productivity. Let’s help get you started on the right foot with Valo Intranet. See why our intranet in-a-box solution can not only get you started but bring your digital workplace to new heights!

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