There’s a common misconception out there about SharePoint intranets: they’re ugly.
ElevatePoint often encounters UX people ready to cringe, expecting a clunky intranet to appear that looks like something from the 20th century. We’re not sure if they’re expecting neon and Flock of Seagulls hair, but they aren’t expecting a streamlined, visually appealing intranet that can bring their brand and culture to life.
We’re always happy they’re surprised and have even heard one UX resource proclaim our intranet was lovely. Aww, thanks! We think our intranets are attractive as well.
Why SharePoint intranets?
Microsoft SharePoint is extensive, doing so many things well. Typically, the reason people purchase SharePoint intranets include:
- Leverages existing technology and resources
- Meets technology strategy and Microsoft partnerships
- Enables real-time collaboration
- Provides document management
- Enables various types of content authors, not just HTML experts, to update a page
- Can be mobile friendly
In other words, SharePoint at its foundation is utilitarian: it works. It’s like a sweater vest on a chilly day, making you warm. But let’s face it, they’re not exactly exciting.
Providers add more to SharePoint intranets, making them exciting
Some providers, like ElevatePoint, use SharePoint as a foundation and then build from there adding functionality that automates more of your business as well as makes an intranet more accessible and user-friendly.
For example, in addition to everything above, ElevatePoint’s SharePoint intranet:
- Is completely mobile friendly
- Has robust analytics to effectively measure communication effectiveness
- Includes components that make communications easier for tailored, personalized communication across the intranet
- Knows who you are, what you do, where you work and what you need
- Provides robust and meaningful searches
- Is well-designed
Well-designed SharePoint intranets
Yes, it’s possible. We’ve taken years of intranet best practices and put them into the overall architecture so it’s easy to use. Best practices include:
- Menus that provide context quickly, at-a-glance
- Hierarchies and information architecture that people across your organization can understand and use
- Opportunities to make their intranet personal, adding menus and links they need to be more productive
- Leveraging Active Directory to help people get to the right place quickly
- Search that yields meaningful results
- Easy ways to ensure information is accurate and updated
Works of art
But it’s not just usability that we care about.
Your brand and culture aren’t limited to logos and color palettes. Your organization is unique for many reasons and that should come to life online, including in your intranet. Your photos should be of your employees and customers. Stories should highlight awards and business your organization has won. The tone of your intranet should match your style guide. Items located on your homepage should carry meaning to employees.
Your intranet should embody everything about your organization. For remote employees, it should be like heading into the office. To those in the office, it should reinforce every brand course they’ve taken at your company.
In other words, your intranet should be a work of art. Unique.
Works of art aren’t one-size fits all; go beyond intranet in a box
Picasso paints nothing like Monet. Monet paints nothing like da Vinci. Da Vinci paints nothing like Pollock. Yet, they’re all artists and all painters. Instead, just like your organization, each artist has his own style.
Your intranet shouldn’t look like something mass-produced, out of a box, either. It’s important to get a provider who listens to your challenges and what makes you special, reviews your style guides, and creates something unique to you. Your intranet shouldn’t be a thing of beauty just for communicators; your intranet should be something IT and all employees love.
The nice thing is, because we’ve been doing this a while, we do have accelerators – areas that you can make your own quickly and easily, should you want to. We like to think of it as the best of both worlds: an artful intranet that’s affordable.
So, for everyone who has a demo with us coming up, please don’t ruin the surprise for your UX employees. We always love hearing the gasps from designers that SharePoint intranets can be lovely. We think so, too.We can provide custom designs just for your organization, if you’re worried about brand. While we’re at it, let’s give you a demo.