Open, ongoing and consistent communication is one of the most stabilizing tools for an organization going through change (and who isn’t, right?). Whether you lead an organization, an academic department or a marketing team, the quality and accessibility of information for your internal audiences can make all the difference. Beyond monthly email newsletters or the occasional all-hands meeting, an internal website, or intranet, can be a critical way to share important, timely information and quick access to knowledge across your organization, keeping everyone in the know and working toward shared goals.
Check out our 5 tips for building an intranet that’s dynamic and user-focused and watch your team move from surviving to thriving.
1. Begin With Strategy
What’s the most important success metric when you build an intranet? That people actually use it! More than just watching your analytics after launch, usability is achieved through successful planning and strategy in the beginning. Start by making sure you understand who the intranet is for, what your users might need to do there and why the intranet is the right place for that interaction to happen. Think about how users will engage with your intranet and the messages and content that will live on the site. Consider the technical integrations—what existing systems and/or data might you need to tie in with?
2. Engage Your People
We all access things in different ways and for different purposes. So, ask your key audiences what they want and need from your intranet. Asking people doesn’t have to be too labor intensive, host a focus group or send out a survey. Engaging early and often will transform your people into champions, early adopters, influencers and maybe even content contributors. Intranets can have many content creators, and including them in developing your new intranet will be key to keeping your site user-focused.
3. Plan for Roles
Intranets are inherently designed for different roles among users. In the case of an academic institution, you will likely have faculty, staff and students who need access to some of the same internal information, but who also have very different needs in other areas. A key part of the intranet strategy is tailoring a user’s experience based on their role. Consider designating specific information, access to pages and content creating and editing capacity based on user roles.
4. Create Continuity
Intranets and external websites serve distinct but closely related purposes along a communications continuum for your internal audiences. The external site is the first place where a potential student, faculty or staff member will see and interact with your brand. The intranet is another opportunity to continue that brand story into a user’s day-to-day interactions.
5. Energize Content
Your intranet is the place to share crucial information, updates, internal documents and processes in an easily accessible location. While they often require a more business-like digital experience, done well, intranets are a strong marketing and retention tool for your internal audiences. Share content that’s in your brand voice and include features and elegant functionality that makes the user experience unique and important to your internal audiences.
An intranet can be, and should be, so much more than a dumping ground for the “stuff” your people need to find. With some planning and insights from your team, you can build a quality, accessible and engaging communication tool.