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May 13, 2020 Intranets

How to create a best-in-class intranet

By Cola Herrero-Driver

Intranets play a crucial role in keeping employees informed and engaged. The most effective ones enhance productivity and efficiency, and boost morale. To be best-in-class, intranets need to be accessible to everyone in the company, continuously updated and intuitive to use.

We recently attended the Intra.NET Reloaded Berlin online conference which provided useful reminders on intranet best practice. The event included presentations from industry experts sharing their valuable experience in overcoming challenges and launching intranets. Below is a recap of the key learnings: 

Findability is the key to self-service

In our experience, understanding users is a vital step in creating an intuitive and effective intranet. It all starts with asking the right questions: who are your users and what do they need from an intranet?

Cecilie Rask, Intranet Manager for the Danish National Police (DNP), shared her organisation's experience of overlooking how the search functionality would be used. Despite meticulous tagging and governance of content, and a big effort to reduce the number of page templates and document types available, the launch of DNP’s intranet search product failed on day one. It had been built on theoretical assumptions of how the search would be used.

DNP subsequently conducted close personal observations on how different regional and local teams used the intranet. Personalisation and further filtering logic were added, and their second iteration of search was well-received. Now in its sixth iteration, Cecilie was keen to point out that despite having a 96% user satisfaction rate, findability is a continual improvement process, and critical to this is the inclusion of user acceptance test cycles.

Think mobile-first to connect diverse workforces

While there is always a lot of talk about enabling collaboration and connecting employees, not many intranets include everyone. Constrained by security requirements and existing platforms and tools, a quandary we help many internal comms teams solve is how to reach the entire workforce – both the frontline and the back office. 

Companies such as Velux and Clariant have tackled this by taking a mobile-first approach and creating intelligent intranets by employing a variety of tools for different channels, including SharePoint, MS Teams and Yammer. In Velux’s case, to mitigate risks and prove the viability of this idea, they ran a pilot project with a core group of factory workers and site managers before committing any substantial investment.

As organisations often have a highly diverse workforce with different roles, languages, cultures and needs, employing multiple tools enables you to deliver personalised content targeted to individuals without the need for a desktop computer. 

An MVP is a down payment on a larger vision

Once launched, an intranet should never considered 'done'. Often, the best approach is to build a minimum viable product (MVP), ensuring just enough features are included to satisfy early adopters and encouraging feedback for future product development.

Stephanie Raddatz, VP Corporate Services & Channels at Wintershall DEA discussed the challenges she faced in creating a joint intranet when Wintershall Holding and DEA Deutsche Erdoel merged. At the time, a new brand was also being created in parallel with re-branding existing communication channels. With moveable targets, creating a MVP was the most appropriate solution. They met the deadline for launch on day one and are continuing to develop and enhance their intranet using the 'build, measure, learn, loop' process.

Future-proofing your internal channels 

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the growing need to keep evolving and developing internal communication channels, particularly when colleagues need to connect digitally more than ever.

A recent joke post on LinkedIn asked people what inspired their digital transformation. Was it the CEO, CTO or Covid-19? Perhaps this is the silver lining for organisations. Forced change can be positive and investing in your internal communication channels and digital literacy now will bring long-lasting benefits, future-proofing against the next crisis that we may face as communicators.

Learn about how we can help you with your internal communications, or contact us directly.

Cola Herrero-Driver

Cola Herrero-Driver

Head of Client Services


+44 (0)20 8609 4911

Charlotte Naversten

Charlotte Naversten

Content strategist


+46 73 985 55 77