Intranet Design 101: The Secret Weapon to Improve Internal Communications

January 28, 2022

9 mins

Employees are working virtually now more than ever. If internal communications are feeling fragmented as a result, why not consider a company intranet? A solid intranet design is a great way to keep everyone unified and connected.

Intranets are sometimes disregarded as ineffective, but that’s usually a result of bad design or lack of strategy. When they’re done right, intranets are incredibly effective tools that improve corporate culture.

In this post, we make the case for the value and benefits of employee intranets. We invite you to consider how a high-quality intranet design could help improve internal communication for your business.

Intranet Design At-A-Glance

At its most basic functionality, intranets are internal communications tools to promote information sharing and company or organizational culture. Intranets are not new, they’ve been around for quite some time.

Back in the day, they were typically only accessible at the employee’s official workstation. But today, intranets are one of the best ways to keep employees connected across physical workstations.

The key to making an intranet work is intentionality and design. Your company must invest in a user-friendly intranet design that employees can easily navigate. If it’s complicated to use, your employees will lose interest,

It also has become an engagement tool. After all, the main goal is to provide a central place to communicate important information. There is a change management component necessary to drive user engagement. This requires a strategy, a plan, and people within the organization to champion the effort.

To be successful, you need a content strategy and a set schedule for posting content in a way that develops rhythms and routines your team can rely on. If it’s not updated and used by management, the rest of the team will quickly lose interest.

It does take work to get an intranet off the ground, but it’s worth it! Finding ways to customize your intranet can add benefits to work relationships. You can recreate the workplace culture while strengthening teams. Remote workers benefit the most by having the tools they need easily accessible and document repositories alleviate many HR headaches as well.

Good Intranet Design Improves Information Sharing

It’s important to note that regardless of how great a company’s intranet is, a vast majority of your employees will not actively use the site. They will become lurkers, consuming content but not creating, contributing, or engaging with others.

Don’t let this hinder your goal of creating a digital space that is useful to your company. Focus on the team members that find value in having an intranet. Over time you can turn the lurkers into active users. Read on for more benefits of using employee intranets.

Not Just for Business

While the majority of the benefits listed below are geared toward a business, these principles can also be applied in other contexts. For example, schools and universities use intranets to strengthen communication between students and staff. Medical services use portals to connect with patients. Community organizations and nonprofits use intranets to rally teams and keep messaging on-point.

From large corporations to small businesses and more, intranets are very effective at keeping people on the same page. Take a look at these benefits and consider how they might apply within your unique context.

Read More: Intranet Design Examples and Tips to Improve Your Internal Communications

Benefits of Intranet Design

1. Cloud-based

In a time not so long ago, employees could only access a company’s intranet from within the confines of the office. Today, companies are using cloud-based servers giving employees access to their intranets from anywhere in the world. Connections are secure, and you can require log-in credentials for added security. This flexibility is important to promote engagement.

2. Centralized Documents

An intranet for business is a great way to keep company documents centralized. Human Resource departments find it useful to have a company intranet that allows employees to download important paperwork.

This is useful for other community leaders and nonprofits as well. Intranets eliminate confusion over where documents are stored and make necessary paperwork and documentation more palatable for everyone.

3. Company-Wide Announcements

Intranets are a great solution to important messages getting lost in a sea of emails. Is your company implementing a new system? Will your medium-sized business host a softball team in a city league? Or maybe you’re looking for volunteers to participate in a focus group.

Intranets are an excellent way to communicate company-wide announcements. You can turn to paperless information sharing and provide a space where information is available and kept current.

The key here is change management. If your culture relies heavily on email for communication it may take some incentivized efforts to encourage people to move away from their usual mode of communication.

4. Social Sharing

Social media is a big part of our lives. In 2021, social platforms amassed an estimated 4.48 billion users. Incorporating a social sharing feature into a custom intranet makes sense to increase engagement.

One way to do this is to create an employee-focused newsletter managed by employees. Feature tips for a better workplace, employees’ professional and personal accomplishments, and interactive icebreakers.

You can also include social sharing apps where employees can join groups to encourage peer-to-peer dialogue.

5. Virtual Collaborations

In an era where many companies promote remote work opportunities, an intranet for business is needed as a gateway for virtual collaborations.

The importance of process improvement teams and development teams hasn’t gone away. With a custom intranet, you can build a feature that allows teams to connect to meeting apps via the company portal.

You can incorporate team collaboration apps for video conferencing that track communication and updates.

6. Centralized Scheduling

Is your company big on meetings? Do you have conferences, training courses, and other events throughout the year? If so, your custom intranet design needs centralized scheduling.

All public activities are posted on the schedule calendar. The right app allows employees to set reminders and receive update alerts. You can make calendar entries open to the public or visible to a select group.

This works well for community intranets as well such as homeowners associations and retirement communities. Everything from maintenance requests to event sign-ups can easily be managed through an intranet.

7. Online Departmental Request

Work orders are handled more efficiently when there is an online portal for departmental requests. You can now track these requests to ensure employees promptly get what they need. It also creates a tracking system that can get used for accountability and training purposes.

Throughout the year, managers can review requests to measure efficiency and response times. The results also help to create budgets for the new year. For example, you may find that IT needs more help desk support or customer service needs computer upgrades.

8. Create a Virtual Company Store

Branding is so useful and should always be consistent across the board. We are big advocates of creating company “swag” for employees to show pride in the company by wearing or using branded gear. If your company doesn’t have a company store, it’s time to consider adding one.

Companies with relaxed dress codes can benefit from selling branded t-shirts. The merchandise can also include a wide array of apparel, desk gear, and other essentials.

An added benefit of a company store is the opportunity to use these profits as donations to charities supported by employees. You can also reward employees with company store gift cards.

9. Boost Morale Through Buy-In

A company intranet can quickly become an essential part of your business operations with the right strategy and intranet design. Consider conducting a company-wide survey to garner feedback on what employees would like to include. This is a good way to get buy-in and build excitement around this new way to communicate.

Custom Intranet Design That Meets Your Needs

Are you considering an intranet for a small business, hospital, school, or nonprofit? We hope these intranet design principles have helped you see how this tool could be a helpful addition to your corporate culture.

Our customer intranet designers are here to assist you in bringing solutions to your audience. We offer innovative intranet design solutions for businesses and nonprofits, both large and small. Are you ready to learn more? Let’s talk!

In the meantime, check out these real-life intranet examples we’ve built for our clients!


Cross & Crown

About Cross & Crown

Cross & Crown is a team of creatives who are passionate about solving problems through design and technology, taking what is there and making it better. Based in Chambersburg, PA, we strive to help educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

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