There are many challenges when considering an intranet — cost, technology, usability and user experience (UX), getting executives to agree, getting users to use it, and more.
But the one challenge that typically takes people by surprise is what to do with their intranet home page.
So little real estate – so much to cover, right?
Not too much, not too little
Your intranet needs to adopt the Goldilocks principle of being just right. You don’t want a link farm, like Yahoo’s search page from olden days. And most likely, you’re not ready for a big giant search box, like Google.
You need something that conveys the perfect amount of vital information, while still making it user-friendly with plenty of white space.
Going mobile is vital these days. Employees want to stay connected and need to find information by phone. In other words, people want information where they are, when they need it.
Luckily, most intranets these days are mobile-ready. ElevatePoint has intranets so flexible, they respond to various devices — smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Our intranets can be accessed by any operating system (OS), too.
What’s important to your employees
It’s not a trick: employees should decide some of what’s on your intranet’s home page by deciding what makes them productive and happy.
For example, internal communicators use their style guide (or guides) often as they check to ensure they’re using correct branding. But your style guide isn’t vital to your IT employees. And your IT team varies widely in what they find useful. Your SharePoint team may want to get ideas from the Microsoft community, but your Unix system administration team would be offended to be forced to receive Microsoft information. Your development folks want access to their favorite sites — from GitHub to Slashdot.
Allow them access to add personal links and information. By letting them customize their intranet experience, employees will appreciate — and more importantly use — your intranet more often.
What’s important to your company
What’s important to your company varies greatly by company. Organizations that live and die by their company’s stock, and want to promote financial acumen, may desire to see their stock ticker on the home page. Companies that live and die by their values — especially if those values are new — may want those on the home page. Groups that tout employee engagement may want recognition front and center. Trucking companies, shipping organizations, and airlines that constantly look at the weather may want that on the home page.
Here are some ideas that probably appeal to everyone.
Generally speaking, company news is something you want employees to know and they want to understand. From information about changes in the industry, to your executives’ insight into regulations, to how your company is making a difference — it makes sense to have that on the home page.
Some intranets, such as ElevatePoint’s, even allow you to personalize the news so that people receive relevant news. Specific locations can receive information about their location. Departments can learn more information about news that matters most to them.
Search … with a chatbot
Most intranets have a search built into every page. It should be front and center, helping people get to where they need to go quickly.
But chatbots, driven with artificial intelligence, can serve as your personal assistant and provide information at a moment’s notice. Why is that important? Let’s imagine you broke your crown at work or at home and needed it replaced. Go to your search and try to find your specific dental insurance. Even for excellent intranet sites, it takes a while to sort through which insurance is yours and what the number is. AI uses natural language. In theory, you could type “Replace a crown” and get information that applies to you with phone numbers and a link.
Chatbots are the next evolution in intranet technology. They save time and money, accessible anywhere … including your home page. ElevatePoint’s chatbot is even accessible through Microsoft Teams.
Like the search, alerts should appear on every page, but only when relevant.
For example, if your email or phone system go down companywide, you probably want that on your home page and every other page as it’s relevant to everyone. But what if you’re in a big company and a small branch in Dallas has a severe weather alert? Your Dallas employees need to know, but everyone else doesn’t.
Using personalized alerts, you can ensure the right people know the right information. It’s especially important for safety and security alerts.
HR information from benefits to compensation
People care about the company and their job role, but occasionally life reminds everyone to go back to basics — health and financial stability. Major life changes, such as the impending birth of a child to trying to covering a spouse who’s been laid off, necessitates this information be on the front page. Front and center.
Because just like insurance, when you need it … you need it!
Of course, having a searching chatbot makes getting this information easier, but we think it’s worthwhile to keep on your home page.
Ways to win the home page war (instead of focus on the battles)
We’ve seen home page battles where groups demand something be on an intranet home page. Sometimes well-meaning employees are armed with page traffic results, surveys, anecdotes, and more.
One way to deal with this is to — as noted above — enable employees to add what matters to them. They need to see the brand guide? Great! They’re desperate for the recent cafeteria menu? Fantastic. Need to see a specific project link? They can add that, too.
Occasionally, that won’t be enough. Consider asking key stakeholders across your company to weigh in. For example, if IT’s head of security complains about the number of breaches due to employees not understanding existing policies, talk it out. He or she may have statistics including financial losses that really are a burden to your company. Either your entire group can make the decision, or you can ask your IT lead to make the call.
For more information about who to gather, view our intranet governance guide.
By keeping the information on your home page relevant, while showing what’s important to the company and employees, your intranet is headed for success. Don’t forget to keep on top of governance — to keep your intranet home page fresh and relevant — as you keep gathering opinions and ideas.