How To Redesign Your Intranet To Create a More Cohesive Digital Experience

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Your intranet is the communication foundation of your business. When leveraged to the full, an intranet can make connecting and sharing information between employees fast and convenient. 

Like many digital systems, a thoughtful redesign can go a long way toward optimizing your intranet's performance. But it can be challenging to figure out where to begin, especially if you have an outdated system. Using tips from Gartner's guide to redesigning your intranet, we'll help you get started.[1]

Why is it important to redesign your outdated intranet?

As workplaces move toward increasingly hybrid environments, it's important to redesign your intranet to ensure team members can communicate and collaborate with each other when and how they need to. This gives you a more cohesive digital experience across your organization.

If you have an outdated intranet, user adoption decreases and communication suffers. You also may experience security issues and a lack of automation with an older platform. 

With an updated intranet that engages users, employees have a comfortable communications portal they can use to interact when and how they'd like. On top of that, you also pave the way for faster, more effective innovation as team members share ideas, solutions, and projects.

3 steps for redesigning your intranet

Redesigning your intranet starts with defining your intranet's purpose. Then you use organizational needs to decide how the design should play out. Finally, you encourage employees to engage with your updated system.

1. Define your intranet's purpose and objectives

The purpose and objectives of your intranet should include specific things you'll use it to accomplish, instead of high-level goals such as "improve communication." The best place to start is looking at employee needs. 

For instance, employees may need:

  • Information about what's happening in the company, including new product releases and company events.

  • Help from HR regarding filling out forms or requesting time off.

  • Assistance from the legal department.

  • Help from IT for troubleshooting issues that pop up.

  • Digital collaboration venues.

  • The ability to store and retrieve data.

  • Contact information for employees in other departments or locations.

Using this approach can also give you peace of mind. When your intranet focuses on giving employees the tools they need to work more efficiently, you can proceed knowing you're developing a genuinely valuable solution that they'll appreciate.

2. Prioritize organizational needs

By prioritizing organizational needs, you ensure that your redesign aligns with the objectives your company is striving to accomplish. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using the five W’s:

  • Who? Who are the end users this redesign needs to benefit?

  • What? What are end users using the intranet for?

  • Where? Where will end users access the redesigned intranet? Which devices will they be using?

  • Why? Why is the communications team looking for a new solution?

  • When? What is the timeframe for launching the new platform?

The answers to these questions can serve as a roadmap for your redesign project.

Consider this example: A marketing department has a distributed workforce that spans several countries. There are writers, video editors, graphic designers, and others—all of whom have to exchange ideas and documents on a constant basis. Some find other document-sharing solutions cumbersome or limiting.

Even though including a real-time document sharing and editing system may come with a higher price tag, it's easy to see how it would pay off in terms of productivity. Therefore, the company may feel that the redesign should include this functionality because it meets both employee and business needs:

  • Employees: Your marketing staff can collaborate in a digital space to generate concepts faster and with higher quality.

  • Business: The company saves money because marketing projects take less time, there are fewer changes, and it’s easier to align brand priorities when all voices are in the same digital room.

It's also important to note that many features you include in a redesign may have far-reaching benefits that extend beyond what you initially intended. Returning to the marketing department example, the sales team could use the same communications infrastructure to exchange ideas and outline effective business meetings with prospects. And the research and development department may be able to use the collaborative space to combine minds around stubborn challenges.

3. Promote employee engagement with your new intranet

Once you have a system in place that satisfies both employee and business needs, it's time to make sure employees use it. 

It may be helpful to reiterate its value. Point out specific instances where employees can use the intranet and benefit from it, such as:

  • Engaging in meaningful interactions that help accomplish specific business goals. For example, they can use it to improve product design or develop sales strategies that foster increased revenue.

  • Building relationships across the organization that may be difficult to form otherwise. These may include connections between disparate teams, such as customer support and product design.

  • Simplifying communication. For instance, an intranet can enable people to reach out to others with a couple of clicks instead of sending an email, waiting for a response, replying to the reply, and so on.

  • Streamlining documentation processes. An intranet can become a powerful storehouse of ideas, previous effective solutions, and pivotal communications, such as meeting notes and newsletters.

One of the most straightforward ways to get employees working with your intranet is to set up projects and interactions that require them to use it.

For example, let's say your intranet has social features that enable teams to connect with each other but also bring other teams into the conversation. First, you could have the sales team meet by connecting through your intranet. In their first meeting, they generate a list of attributes that bring the highest value-adds for clients.

Then, for their second meeting, they can connect with the design team over the intranet. You can encourage the sales team to share the features that matter the most to clients. The design team can then use this feedback to make sure the product delivers the specific value-adds that attract and retain customers.

By using your redesigned intranet to bring value to your team's processes, you give them the chance to experience its benefits firsthand. In this way, they not only get on board but also become advocates for your revamped solution.

Key considerations for an intranet redesign

You can make sure your redesign aligns with company goals by asking questions such as:

  • Why does our organization need each channel? The answer to this question is important as you do a cost/benefit analysis.

  • What can we expect once we implement each feature? By setting expectations, you lay the groundwork for benchmarks you can use to evaluate the redesign as time goes on.

  • How does each channel make it easier for employees to do their jobs? You can use this question to ground your redesign in terms of how it benefits actual workflows.

As you design your intranet, it's also important to consider and define your intranet audience. This involves identifying specific players and their roles across the entire company. Once you have this data in front of you, it's easier to quantify the added value your intranet will bring.

Are you ready to optimize your intranet?

By defining your intranet's purpose and the needs it meets for employees and your organization, you create a list of priorities that makes it easier to choose the features you want.

Your next step is to use this information to start narrowing down the intranet packages that’ll best align with your goals. Check out Software Advice's catalog of intranet software, and read our buyers guide to learn more about the features available.