Here are five tips for creating an effective SharePoint intranet. Based on nearly 2 decades of experience to offer insights into best practices for designing, developing, and deploying intranets that meet the unique needs of different organizations and businesses; this list is by no means exhaustive but provides beginners with a starting point.
1. Define the goals and requirements
Before you start building your SharePoint intranet, it’s essential to define your goals and requirements. Ask yourself questions like: What are the specific pain points we are trying to solve? What features and functionalities do we need? Who will be using the intranet and for what purposes? Do we need to adhere to any compliance / audit rules? What information does every single person in the company need to know about?
By taking the time to understand your organization’s unique needs, you’ll be able to design a more effective intranet that truly meets your requirements.
2. Use a structured approach to site architecture
A well-structured site architecture is crucial to the success of your SharePoint intranet. Ensure that each site has a clear purpose and is easy to navigate. Do proper analysis of the business requirements to determine the structure. Make use of mega menus and hub sites to surface and group important information. Consider using built in site templates to standardize the layout and design of your pages if you are not familiar with doing it yourself. Use metadata where possible to make it easy for users to find what they are looking for by filtering content.
3. Focus on user adoption
No matter how well-designed your SharePoint intranet is, it won’t be effective if your users don’t adopt it. To drive user adoption, focus on creating an intuitive and user-friendly interface, providing adequate training and support, and engaging your users through gamification and other techniques. It’s also essential to involve your users in the design and development process to ensure that the intranet meets their needs and preferences. Don’t under-estimate the need for proper training as SharePoint (and by extension Microsoft 365), are enterprise-level, complex platforms that require some mastery.
4. Leverage all of Microsoft 365’s collaboration features
SharePoint is designed to facilitate collaboration and teamwork, so leverage its collaboration features like document co-authoring and lists, commenting on pages to the fullest, Try social networking tools like Teams, task management in Planner, and self-paced learning in Viva Learning. Encourage staff to use these features to share knowledge, collaborate on projects, and build a sense of community within your business.
5. Ensure scalability and maintainability
Finally, it’s crucial to ensure that your SharePoint intranet is scalable and maintainable in the long term. This means designing your site with growth in mind using features that are easy to maintain at first; using best practices for site architecture and ensuring that your site is optimized for search. It also means implementing effective governance practices, such as defining roles and responsibilities, setting up workflows, and enforcing compliance with policies and procedures. By taking a proactive approach to maintenance and governance, you can ensure that your SharePoint intranet remains effective and sustainable over time.