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How to Design the Intranet that Employees Want

While the intranet of every organisation will have its own needs and quirks, certain aspects remain fundamental. Here is a summary of what employees always want from their intranet:

1.Relevant information

While a primary goal of intranets is to improve communication from management to employees and between employees. However, an unfortunate consequence, due to their size, much of the content won’t apply to a specific individual. Meaning that employees end up having to sift through irrelevant information to get to what they need.

A useful intranet should offer employees a way to access personalised information, and available in a single-page portal.

Employees should receive notifications for tasks that are essential while having the option to browse but less critical, information on their terms. Examples of how you can achieve this with your corporate intranet include offering:

  • Customisable employee workspaces and message boards
  • More detailed staff profiles
  • Employee status updates
  • The option of “following” colleagues
  • Personalised bookmarks.

2. An aesthetically pleasing portal

The aesthetics of a corporate intranet are often an afterthought at best, but the impact of an outdated UX or a bland aesthetic on employee morale can be surprisingly significant. Remember: this is the portal that greets your employees, day in and day out. If the UX feels clunky or the colour scheme is irritating, the company’s image will gradually but surely be diminished in the eyes of employees.

At worst, the result will be a measured decrease in employees’ motivation to produce the highest quality work.

3. Search that works

The organisational structure of documents and data is still clunky in many organizations, with employees often being required to conduct searches at each level of a compartmentalised data hierarchy.

Adding to the difficulty, intranet search algorithms have traditionally been far less effective than the refined experience employees are used to with Google Search. Results returned have tended to be either nil or, due to the lack of filters and inadequate previews, overwhelming. The consequence is that employees often can’t find what they want in the intranet.

As discussed in our article “Seven Ways SharePoint’s Paperless Office Can Improve your Organization’s Efficiency” leveraging the intelligent search contained in Microsoft’s SharePoint offering on documents enterprise-wide can drastically improve employees’ access to information without compromising security.

4. Localised news and announcements

Particularly for organisations that span continents, the presence of irrelevant news and announcements in a corporate intranet portal can be overwhelming. Giving employees either the opportunity to customize news and announcements to their region, or optimizing it for regions on their behalf, can go a long way towards improving the sense of relevancy of your corporate intranet.

5. Clarity on the tools to use and the protocols for using them

Too often, corporate intranets are foisted upon unwitting employees without a proper guide. One consequence is that employees end up not knowing the rules of etiquette for contributing to discussions, potentially resulting in embarrassment, outrage, or bruised egos.

Further, where there exist multiple tools to complete a given job, employees may end up using the wrong tool for the job. Providing intranet training at onboarding can go a long way in addressing these concerns.

6. An easy way to quickly find the right person who can help

Most organizations are full of individuals with highly specialized knowledge and skills. Given the right tools for collaboration and the ability to find each other, results can be incredible. Unfortunately, in many workplaces, employees, particularly new ones, are unable to find the right person when needed.

A sufficiently well-designed intranet can solve this problem by maintaining a dynamically updated registry of employees, their roles, and their current bandwidth to take on new tasks. Bringing them into a new task should be as easy as sharing the proper documents (digitally) and providing the right permissions.


While the problems are practically universal, the solutions required for turning a corporate intranet into a functional and appreciatively-used portal will be slightly different for each organisation. If you’re going to revamp your intranet, try to engage as many stakeholders as possible and don’t be shy about taking on external consulting.

Having trouble getting approval for the intranet revamp your organisation desperately needs?
Read more: Six Ways to Ensure your Intranet is Adopted