There are many different elements that can influence the functionality of a social intranet ... and many people don't know where to start.
Sure, intranet software can be viewed as a system where every process can affect another in various ways, and while some elements of your intranet are mere "icing on the cake," others can make or break your intranet's performance and require a lot of focus and attention ... such as the homepage.
So, what exactly makes a great intranet homepage?
When people look to improve their intranet homepage, they start off by determining what additions will benefit the company. This isn't necessarily a poor route to take, but before doing this, it's important to consider the role or roles that an intranet homepage actually serves. An intranet homepage is not singular in function, and understanding how it can be used is a huge step in the right direction.
Once you learn how to harness the power of your homepage, there's no telling how many uses you may find for it. Keeping this in mind, here are some common roles that an intranet homepage can serve, all of which should be considered before discussing the "must-haves" you eventually want to incorporate:
Every company is unique, so there is no such thing as a "one size fits all" intranet homepage. Still, there are common elements that every organization can benefit from, most of which are designed to make the lives of you and your staff easier. In an effort to streamline your intranet homepage, here are 20 "must-have" elements:
A simple homepage allows every community member to fully express themselves, regardless of their level of technical expertise. Navigation buttons should be straightforward, eliminating any confusion that might be associated with how to get from point A to point B. Simplicity may seem difficult to achieve with an abundant amount of content on your intranet, but it is absolutely possible with careful planning in the design process.
While simplicity and cleanliness are certainly related to each other, the latter refers more to layout than information presentation. A clean, sleek layout is what you're looking for here, as an outdated interface will cause a disconnect for staff members. Maintaining a clean homepage is crucial to taking your intranet to new heights.
No matter what your intranet homepage is comprised of, you will have key information that needs to be prioritized. Prioritization gives staff members everything they need to handle basic daily business processes. This is in direct contrast to homepages that are loaded with random information, most of which never gets used. Keep key information at the top of the page, and you won't have to deal with this all-too-common problem.
Part of keeping an intranet homepage clean and functional is ensuring that information overload doesn't occur. Aggregating widgets can help you group different types of news, notifications, and event warnings in one part of the homepage, saving valuable real estate for something else.
This is done easily with Communifire’s drag-and-drop Page Builder. It simplifies your intranet homepage design, creating responsive column based layouts that adapt to mobile. It is easily understood and anyone can edit the layout of the homepage and never have to touch a line of code. There are no limitations as to how you can customize and arrange your homepage widgets.
Appropriate management and promotion of content is crucial to the success of your social intranet. To put it simply, your homepage should give access to different types of content, such as blog posts, articles, wikis, photos, videos, and more. Tread carefully, because making your homepage a smorgasbord of content without sacrificing cleanliness can be a tricky, though manageable process.
Make sure the information on your intranet homepage is not only timely, but highly useful to the majority of your community. Avoid uploading any information to your homepage that isn't both accurate and timely.
You should expect that your intranet will grow with your organization. A growing intranet can often translate to a mountain of content, and dealing with document after document can be a challenge. By introducing an intranet search engine, you can ensure that your homepage runs at peak performance while allowing staff members to find exactly what they need. The more customizable your search functionality, the more powerful it will be.
When users log into your social intranet, the goal is for them to view the entire homepage rather than a single part of it. This can be tricky, because people are often drawn to specific parts of a page and ignore others — especially when they're familiar with the look of your intranet. Using symmetry and ensuring that no particular item is more prominent than another can help resolve this issue.
Color can very effective when properly incorporated into your intranet homepage. Vibrant colors will make mundane content seem interesting and appealing, and it will also elevate great content to a new level. When properly configured, color can have a huge impact on the overall look and feel of your intranet homepage.
Every intranet comes with its own set of goals, but one of the most common is to increase the functionality and fluidity of communication. When communication between employees is uninhibited, everything simply "works." A common mistake is omitting chat and instant messaging from the intranet homepage. Instead, keep intranet chat front and center to ensure communication issues never come into play.
No matter how well-managed your intranet, there are bound to be necessary improvements throughout its lifespan. One of the mistakes intranet administrators make is avoiding these improvements, which inevitably aggravates employees and causes persisting problems. Making constant improvements will actually benefit your organization in addition to streamlining the performance of your social intranet.
When your employees log into the social intranet, they will want to do things for themselves ... like improving their employee profiles, focusing on organizational principles, taking a self-paced training, etc. Employee self-service should be encouraged, and your homepage should present content in a manner that makes it easy for employees to access what they are looking for.
Collaboration should be a primary focus at any organization, because it leads to better ideas, solutions, and increased productivity. While there are many ways to facilitate collaboration on your intranet, you should ensure that collaboration tools are present right on the homepage. New blogs, for example, can be edited by numerous employees when they're presented right up front.
Onboarding new employees can be a stressful process, especially when managers don't have the time for hours of training. Use the intranet to your advantage, and make the training materials easy to find. Intranet training materials don't need to be lengthy or intensely detailed, as new employees will be learning a lot on the job. As long as you can create reference materials that are easy to review and give them a small section on the homepage, you'll be on the right track.
Every company intranet has areas that are commonly visited throughout the day. While some of these can be found through the navigation bar, others can be a hassle to find. Providing "quick links" on the homepage, and anything else that may be pertinent to staff members, can be highly beneficial. Note that quick links don't have to remain static; they can change along with the business itself.
Your employees need a tool that allows them to keep track of everything that's going on without feeling overwhelmed. Your intranet homepage should feature an activity stream highlighting all the major changes and contributions pertinent to that particular employee. Activity streams can be tweaked in a multitude of ways, so don't hesitate to get creative.
On occasion, community members will need to access old archives to find specific content. Content archives can be labyrinths, especially when they continue to grow. Making archives easily accessible will cut down on how stressful they are to navigate, and your homepage is a great spot for a quick link.
One of the greatest things about the intranet is that it allows organizations to consolidate many different software programs into one integrated platform. Consolidation of processes can save hours of time, especially for those who bounce around between them. Putting common business practices up front can help save even more time and make life easier for your entire staff, and it doesn't have to take up more than a small section of the homepage.
Naturally, your employees are going to have something to say about the company intranet. They may have positive praise and feedback to offer, or perhaps there is an issue that they'd like to bring to the administrator's attention. Placing a feedback form or "virtual comment box" on the homepage can enable employees to bring their concerns to the forefront, which can be beneficial for the entire community.
Some days are so busy that simply organizing your tasks can feel like a full-time job. Having an interactive list of tasks can be a game changer, as this can help ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. If you place this directly on the homepage of your intranet, staff members will have what they need to get through the day, and can ensure they check everything off their lists before going home.
Your intranet homepage can make or break how the community progresses, and focusing on improving it is more than worth your time.
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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