SharePoint is an excellent platform for your intranet, but there’s no point using it on its own, because if you do it will fail.

OK, that sounds a bit harsh, but it’s true. SharePoint is a powerful technology, not an ‘off the shelf’ solution.

Combined with the skills of designers, architects and developers, SharePoint can be moulded to create the right solution that will address your business needs and objectives.

The following 7 steps will help you achieve the end result you and your users want. Of course, this isn’t just confined to intranet design; the same process can be applied to any application or platform.

1. Research

Good research is vital, but that doesn’t mean just gathering together management and stakeholders to outline what they want to achieve. To make sure you achieve your objectives, it’s essential you speak to the people who will use the technology.

By doing this you’ll avoid the trap of making assumptions about how people use the intranet (so avoiding costly mistakes and time delays). Plus, it will also prevent you from simply doing what you did before (when your old system was designed) because although it was fit for purpose a few years ago, doesn’t mean it will still be relevant to your needs now.

It’s also important you get both attitudinal and behavioural research because there’s often a gap between what people say and what they do.

2. Frame the problem

The next step is to frame the initial problem by creating an overview of the feedback to show common themes and give it context. For example, our administrators need a better system to ease their content management burden.

3. Can SharePoint help?

Once you have a clear idea of the issue and the solutions you need, it’s time to decide whether SharePoint can solve the issues out of the box, or whether it will need customising and/or integrating with your existing systems.

4. Information architecture

There’s no point in creating a solution in SharePoint if the information is still hard to find. Defining your information architecture from the outset will ensure that your users will be able to easily find the information they need.

5. Content migration

This is a great opportunity to prune your old information; after all, what’s the point in designing a new system if you’re going to fill it with old data?
Now’s the time to think about its structure and undergo an ROT analysis to identify any data that’s redundant, out-dated or trivial, trimming the content that’s no longer required.

6. User interface design

How are your users going to interact with your new system? What do they want to get from it? Undergoing usability testing throughout the UI design process will make sure the needs of your users are always kept at the forefront of your design.

7. Implementation

The designing of your intranet is only the beginning of the change process. It’s essential you support your investment with a training and governance strategy.
Training is essential to make sure you successfully meet your business objectives, whilst governance will ensure your team can maintain the solution you put in place to a high standard and expand the intranet as the needs of your organisation grow.

Greater efficiency, higher engagement

Keeping your users at the heart of your design process is essential for an end result that will help you achieve your business goals.

A well-designed intranet will boost employee engagement through better communication, greater collaboration and proactive learning. It will also provide you with faster workflows and improved levels of customer service.