Why no one reads your Intranet homepage​

Not only is an un-engaging Intranet dull for your staff, it also represents a missed opportunity for cross-business communication and an underused investment. In order to get the best out of their SharePoint solution, administrators need to think creatively about how they might best invigorate their Intranet.

Google Analytics can let you know which pages on your Intranet are being viewed and how often. If the figures for your homepage are more Intra-not than Intranet, Microsoft have developed a number of innovative apps and solutions which should encourage employees to engage more with your company and inspire greater participation.

Fundamentally, keeping your staff reading is all about clear, to the point and well structured content. Get this right and the messages you want to convey will stick.

Why do we have Intranets and how do we use them?

It’s easy to forget why Intranets emerged in the first place. Essentially, they’re about getting important messages across to staff, easing communication around the business, storing data and providing access to HR paperwork. Your colleagues tend to scan pages looking for the essential things they need to perform their jobs, sorting out information they don’t need and zooming in on what’s essential.

When designing or developing a homepage it’s therefore crucial to keep these factors in mind. Your colleagues can be seen as an audience – giving them the information they’re looking for in a concise and clear manner should be the focus of all your work as an administrator. Pages need to have a clear purpose, include direct links to the resources required and provide relevant information.

Rules for writing great content

There’s a lot of guidance out there for improving your Intranet’s content. Whether it comprises of tens of thousands of pages with hundreds of authors, or just a handful providing details on forms and procedures, the rules for writing good content are the same. You need to think about:

  • Who is going to read the page and what they’re looking for
  • Whether the page provides all the information needed
  • KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid! Don’t fill your pages with large swathes of text and flashing images, your colleagues aren’t looking to read a book or be blown away by your great JavaScript. Give them what they need.
  • Keep it up to date and delete old and irrelevant content

Get creative with apps and solutions

The Intranet as we know it has come a long way from the humble pages they once were. With SharePoint 2013, Microsoft are proffering ever more advanced tools to make your company’s Intranet an engaging place tailored to your business needs. Picking and choosing which apps converge with your requirements and which are irrelevant will of course depend on your business. Some of the more interesting options to generate interest are outlined here:

Communities

With Communities, users are able to join what are essentially work related forums. They provide a space for employees to discuss topics, themes and ideas. Users can choose to opt in or out and administrators can police them and regulate permissions. They provide a space to share ideas and seek knowledge from colleagues across the organisation. When set to homepages, Communities can encourage employees to spend more time keeping track of updates to their group and getting involved in discussions.

Video

We’ve all seen Intranet homepages with static and dull announcements. Unsurprisingly, no-one reads them! However, in SharePoint 2013 you can transmit company news with Video. Whether it’s your latest piece of publicity, a news clip where you’re mentioned, interviews with key staff or information on a vision for the future, telling the story with video can be very compelling. Staff will be much more likely to watch a well produced video than a lengthy report or email which gets buried in their inboxes. Seeing the latest company video, however, can be informative but also feels less like hard work than skimming through pages of text.

Enterprise Social Networks

If there’s one way to make your Intranet engaging, it’s to make it social. There’s a raft of Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) out there which replicate the theory behind Facebook and apply it to the workplace. Human beings are naturally social animals, and organising your Intranet to reflect this demonstrates good sense.

ESNs ease the sharing of information, allow individuals to find one another more easily, break the ice between staff in different departments and encourage interaction. A Twitter style feed on your Intranet homepage keeps colleagues up to date with company news and comments sections allow them to share their views and ideas.

Getting the most out of your Intranet

With a bit of imagination, there’s a lot you can do to make your SharePoint solution a more interesting place. Administrators need to think about how their Intranet homepages can be best designed to send messages to staff and build a stronger sense of engagement with the business. Different companies will need different solutions, but it’s worth exploring the options that exist so as to make your Intranet investment really pay off.