You've already selected and installed your intranet software, so you've made significant progress. Now you're ready for content.
In This Article
Define Your Purpose
In most cases, an intranet is being put in place because something isn't working very well. Whether it's communication, processes, engagement, information-sharing, or document management, a problem has been identified and the intranet is going to make it better.
What's the goal or purpose of your intranet?
Once you have a clear mission statement or vision for your intranet, the rest of the pieces will begin to fall into place. Get together with your team, with key stakeholders, and with staff, and discuss what they need to be able to do on the intranet. Go directly to users to test navigation. Keep in mind that your intranet will have a higher likelihood of success if it has a champion - someone (or a team) passionate about the intranet and the role it plays in organizational success.
As you work through your process, remember to:
- keep it simple
- make it easy to use
- help users access the information they need to do their jobs
- have some fun
The Intranet Connections blog has some excellent resources to help guide you through your build process. Make sure you check out the links below.
From the Intranet Connections Blog
Project Planning Questions
Working together with your project team or other individuals who will be moving the intranet forward, we suggest answering the following questions to help guide your build:
- How do you want the intranet to look and feel (e.g. fun, reflect corporate values, colorful, energetic, etc.)?
- Is the intranet intended to assist with day-to-day tasks (e.g. communicate/collaborate with team members, complete forms, etc.) or is it intended to be more of a reflection of departmental structure? Learn more about intranet navigation and task-based versus topic-based.
- If there's an existing intranet, what content or structure will you retain for the new intranet? Have you done an inventory of content?
- Will all content need to be accessible to all staff? Or will some content be locked down depending on the department/team/project? Learn more in our Security overview.
- Are documents currently stored on a shared drive that need to be added to the intranet for easier access?
- How will intranet content be maintained after launch (e.g. by an intranet team, delegated responsibility for different areas, etc.)?
Intranet Function Questions
In addition to identifying overall structure needs, there are some specific functional questions that will help with your build:
- Are there organizational policies that require users to review and accept them?
- Do you have daily announcements sent out via email or posted (whiteboard) for all to see which should instead be on the intranet?
- How do you want to arrange the Home Page for maximum impact on users? Learn more about the Home Page.
- Do you have specific forms that need to be completed and processed/tracked internally (e.g. timesheets, expense forms, new hire requirements for computer/software access, etc.)?
- Will you include announcements about corporate changes (e.g. moving, renovations, relocating, mergers and acquisitions, team changes, etc.)?
Questions for IT
Finally, there are technology-focused questions which will need the input of your information technology group:
- How do you want users to be able to access the site?
- If using AD, a Single Sign-On method will likely work best as users aren’t required to log in (i.e. it simply logs them in with the same credentials used to access their computer). Note that the intranet will expose AD information differently from email, so some data or department cleanup may be needed.
- Do you want them to use a friendly DNS name to access the site? (e.g. http://MyCompanyIntranet/)
- Will the intranet be available to staff who aren't on a Local Area Network?
- Will you create a test site for testing new features/upgrades, etc.?
- If there will be a test site, the intranet should be mirrored at launch so that it looks and functions the same as the live site.
General Project Timeline
Every intranet project and organizational situation is unique. Some companies will want to get input from staff since they'll be the users; some will have only one area such as Communications or HR build their intranet, and some will have cross-functional teams; some will want it up and running in a month, and some are happy to wrap things up within a year.
Regardless of the individual specifics, each intranet project will usually involve the following steps:
- Identify project team members
- Install server
- Learn the software
- Build your intranet
- Develop navigational structure
- Develop security
- Configure pages, Apps and Sites as desired, based on your key business objectives
- Design Home Page
- Create navigation
- Soft launch to pilot users (optional)
- Launch !
Essential Intranet Functions
We're often asked what are the key functions for an intranet. Of course, there's organizational variation in this answer, but we've found that nearly all intranets launch with the following functions in place:
- Home Page - obviously users need an intranet page to land on when they get to the site, and you'll want to provide an engaging and informative page with at-a-glance updates, including widgets which automatically pull in intranet or external content
- Employee Directory - the main reason many staff access the intranet, looking for contact information, titles, or photos
- Documents and policies - typically either document, policies, or both are in place at launch, often with features such as read and confirm, or document versioning
- Forms - forms are a reality for virtually every organization, and including them on the intranet is a great way to boost staff engagement; start by adding existing PDF or Word forms, or recreate those forms as online forms for easier tracking and workflows
The next function added is often team or departmental sites (e.g. Human Resources), so that either one type of content can be grouped in one intranet area, one staff group can manage content for one area, and/or a group can access content that the rest of the staff cannot.
After these areas, organizations become very diverse as to the functions they include; our App Overview article may give your project team a better idea of the Apps that are right for your intranet.
Learn the Software
An important part of building an intranet is simply to play with the software as a means of discovering and testing what it can do for your organization. Your new intranet comes with demo data and users, so you can easily play around and find out how to put our tools to work for you.
Intranet Connections is designed around a toolbox of pre-built applications, or Apps, and in your freshly installed site we've organized the Apps into several different menu items to demonstrate the navigation layout possibilities. Explore the different menu links to see some of the configured Apps available within the product which you might want to include in your intranet.
Our Help Center is full of information, but some of the key articles to help understand our software include:
- Admin Overview
- Hierarchy: Sites, Apps, and Pages
- Security Overview
- Search Overview
- Design Tab: Advanced Theme Editor
- App Overview
- Widget Overview
- Online Forms Overview
There are a few factors specific to Intranet Connections software which you should also keep in mind as you move forward. Specifically:
- Many of us have gotten into the habit of relying on auto-save when creating content, but there is no auto-save in Intranet Connections so remember to save as you go.
- Similarly, there's no versioning for page content, so when you save you're overwriting the previous information.
- If content were to be accidentally deleted or impacted in some way, your organization may want to roll back to the previous backup, typically from the day prior, which would mean you would lose any changes made since that backup.
Your software license allows you to have both a production (i.e. live) site, as well as a test (i.e. development) site. We highly recommend having both instances in place so that you can test features and patches/upgrades without impacting users.
Clear Out Demo Data
After you've used the demo data to help understand the software, you should remove it before beginning your build. This information has to be cleaned up in several different ways.
Clean Up App Content
To keep an App and re-use it, you'll need to delete the folders which also deletes all folder content. To delete folders:
- When logged in as an Admin, navigate to the App with the content you want to remove.
- Click Toolbox, top right.
- Select Manage Folders.
- Click on a folder name, and click the red circle to delete the folder, as shown below.
- Click the Delete button to confirm your action.
- Repeat as needed for all folders.
When all of the old folders are deleted, all the demo content will be deleted as well. At this point, you can add new folders and start fresh with your own content in the App.
Clean Up Sites and Apps
Sites and Apps are included with demo data to show you how they function and to help you learn how to use them. When you're ready to build your site, you'll either want to repurpose the Site or App with your own data by editing it and deleting folders as above, or to delete the Site or App entirely (this isn't possible with Forms or Employee Directory, which are only found on the Home Site). Note that when you delete an App you're only deleting that instance of it, and the App template remains available as an option if you want to use that App in future.
To delete a Site or App:
- In the top menu row of your Site, click the edit pencil to edit the Global Navigation. Use the menu editor to delete any links to the Site or App. Note that if you've successfully removed all links to the site, the Menu icon on the Site Card, shown below (1), should no longer display.
- When logged in as an intranet Admin, click Admin, top right.
- Click the Assets tab.
- To delete a Site, mouse over the Site Card to reveal the trash can top right (2), click on it, and click Delete to confirm.
- To delete an App, repeat #2-3, but click on the Site Card which has the App, then click the button which lists the number of Apps on the Site. Mouse over the App Card to reveal the trash can top right, and click Delete to confirm.
Clean Up the Homepage
There are two ways you can clean up your Home Page. Either build it from scratch with a new widget page, or delete the widgets you don't want and add the ones that you do; both options are described below. Regardless of the option you choose, have a look through the articles Home Page and Redesign Your Home Page for ideas and inspiration.
Build a New Home Page
The cleanest way to create a new Home Page is to add a new Page to the Home Site, add the widgets you want, and designate it as the Home Page, following these steps:
- Use the article instructions to 'Add a Page' and choosing a Widget page. This will give you an empty page where you can start adding widgets.
- Decide on the widgets you want, such as a What's New Feed, Content Feed, by looking at the Types of Widgets article.
- Add and reposition widgets, rows, etc. following the instructions in the Widget Overview article.
- When you're ready to make your new page the actual Home Page of the intranet:
- Click the Admin link, top right.
- Click the Assets tab.
- On the card for the new Home Page, check that the title, icon, and description are what you want to have in place on the Home Page.
- Mouse over the card for the new Home site to reveal a flag with a tool tip of "make this the home page". Click the flag to make this the Site Home page.
- Since there can only be one Home Page, the flag for the previous Home page automatically disappears. Rename this page as something like Home Page - archived [date] in case you want to refer to it later, or click the trash can on its card to delete it if you know you won't need it.
Revise Widgets on Existing Home Page
Since a Home Page is a collection of widgets, cleaning up the Home Page is as simple as deleting all of the widgets.
To do this, when you're logged in as an Admin, go to the Home Page.
- Mouse over the widget you want to delete it will change color and show three icons.
- Click the trash can to delete the widget.
- A message box will appear, checking if you want to permanently delete the widget. Click OK.
- The widget is now gone and the frame remains. If you want to remove the widget frame as well, click the trash can in the top grey row, then click OK.
- If you’re finished on the page, click Save Widgets at the bottom to exit the editing mode.
- Continue to delete, move, and add widgets as needed. Learn more about widgets in the 'Widget Overview' article.
Clean Up Demo Users
To remove the demo users that came with your installation of the intranet:
- When logged in as an intranet Admin, click Admin near the top of your window.
- Click the Security tab.
- Under Logins, click Find Logins.
- Scroll down and click Search without entering any specifics.
Note: if you've already synced with Active Directory, check the box beside 'find Form-based logins' and click Search.
- All of the demo users will be displayed in the search results.
- Check the box beside each user you wish to disable, or click 'select all'. Deselect the Kelly Bristow account if you're currently using it.
If you're logged in with the Kelly Bristow account, do NOT delete this account or you’ll be locked out of the intranet and will have to contact Support to regain entry.
- Click Disable, top right, as shown in the image below:
As a final step, you may need to clean up some of the navigation. Learn more about editing IC navigation.