6 Features Every Great Intranet Must Have

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Anyone who has explored intranet options has undoubtedly heard the same buzzwords. You’re offered “out-of-the-box,” “turnkey” solutions that promise to drive employee engagement via “one-size-fits-all, low-cost” systems. The problem lies in what they don’t tell you: Building an effective internal communications platform isn’t new. It’s essentially brand storytelling.

A truly effective intranet should be an extension of your public-facing site, not an entirely distinct system. What differs, of course, is your intended audience. Unlike your public-facing site that serves a public readership, your intranet must serve the varying needs and wants of your employees. While some may use it primarily to access pay information, vacation tracking and 401(k) investments, others may rely on it more heavily for site, industry and facilities news. An effective intranet is the go-to communications hub to serve any and all of these needs.

Websites that drive engagement provide consistent value to the people who use them—in this case, your employees. The best practices that drive engagement on public-facing websites should also apply to your intranet. Therefore, employers should communicate with their employees using tools such as personalization, syndication and distribution that they already know work well on non-intranet sites.

At Perfect Sense, we’ve worked side by side with digital teams at some of the world's best-known corporate brands. We’ve used the lessons we’ve learned from partnering with them to build, launch and maintain their brand storytelling sites to save time and money in creating and maintaining their intranet sites.

Those lessons have led us to develop Brightspot in a way that allows companies to create a distinctive intranet site that is unique to their organization and employee needs while also working in harmony with their corporate site. Based on those experiences, we’ve identified six features that every great intranet must have.

1. Homepage

The homepage is the headquarters of the site—the first thing employees see when signing on and the first place they will look for services and resources. Great intranet sites have a well-organized homepage that provides easy access to everything an employee needs, is continuously updated and is personalized to the employee based on department, location or job function.

Brightspot allows a variety of teams to collaborate on publishing to the homepage and enables the site to reflect a unique corporate brand. The homepage functions as a digital living room—a welcoming common space that is designed to make employees feel positive about working with that employer. A hub like this lets employees know that the company values them and their engagement highly.

2. Stories

The homepage and other parts of a great intranet site will feature brand storytelling, including stories that have appeared on the company’s external site, as well as internal stories designed specifically to be shared with staff. These communications may also include anecdotes, perspectives and quotes from executive leaders and news about the company and the wider industry.

The postings in the intranet can communicate at various levels, from high-level storytelling down to urgent news blasts. Good taxonomy will help keep all of this content organized and accessible to those using the intranet.

Perhaps most important when it comes to communicating stories, a great intranet allows for content personalization. After all, your VP of marketing will benefit from seeing different content than your lead engineer.

3. Tools

The best intranets provide a variety of tools and resources for employees to access—and they’ll all be accessible from a central location, with some of them customized for the particular employee. Certain tools are external to the intranet, yet are accessible from the site via a click-through. Other tools can be embedded, such as a corporate calendar that may appear on a prominent page of the internal site. Brightspot’s authentication, content types and affinity capabilities make it easy to configure all of these tools and set which ones should be accessible to which employees.

4. Communication

Your intranet should offer multiple ways for executives to communicate with employees, plus ways for employees to communicate with each other. In other words, it's not just top-down, it's around. The site should include a directory that lists personnel for key departments and their email addresses. The site can be set up to provide notifications customized to each employee. And direct integration of communication tools such as chat and Slack allow the intranet itself to function as a conduit for communication among employees. The site can also include internal-only social functions, such as commenting and moderated forums or chat boards.

5. Directory

The directory function on intranet sites is notoriously lacking or hard to use; in fact, companies often find this the primary problem to solve when setting up an improved intranet. A great site needs a directory that’s easy to use and has an excellent search function and filtering options. The directory should be attached to an employee database that it can use to automatically update employee information. The best directories also incorporate personnel photos so employees can put faces to coworkers’ names.

6. Repository or Digital Asset Manager

An excellent intranet serves as a repository of knowledge for the company, providing an access point for official corporate assets and allowing for the sharing of assets and resources among employees and departments. All employees should have the option to contribute to the repository, with some rules and moderation, and should be accompanied by a robust search function that allows all employees to find and access it all. The repository can be part of the site, accessible through an integration, or a combination of both.

Along with these six features, a winning intranet site must be governed well; allow for global publishing with appropriate permissions; and offer great uptime, availability and performance. Brightspot ensures you get all of this along with unparalleled ease-of-use, helping you easily transform your intranet to a next-generation site.

Our CEO David Gang recently sat down and shared his insights on the best practices for launching a modern intranet. Learn what he said sets great intranets apart and the essential features for an intranet your employees will see as a benefit.

To learn more about Brightspot’s powerful intranet solution, including why organizations such as Johnson & Johnson, Marriott International and others have benefited from forging their workforce with Brightspot, read Why Brightspot Is Ideal for Your Intranet.

About the Author
Roy Ben-Yoseph
Roy leads Perfect Sense's corporate business. Prior to Perfect Sense, Roy led the Digital Products team at the College Board, and was Vice President of Email Products at AOL. He brings executive product strategy and management expertise gained from over 20 years of leading digital products and businesses.
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