[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]An intranet is a portal through which employees can interact with the company’s data and collaborate with each other. Taking up this solution allows personnel to work more closely and effectively. SharePoint is a Microsoft platform for building and hosting intranet systems. Many employers use this tool to boost employee output and overall efficiency. However, an intranet can only benefit an organization to the extent that personnel use it. This makes end-user adoption a critical concern for employers.
A poorly designed intranet tends to see less use than a well-designed solution. A system that does not appeal to its users will be ignored and, ultimately, forgotten. Abel Solutions recommends keeping certain goals and guidelines in mind while designing, developing, and implementing this site. Following a set of SharePoint intranet best practices spurs employee adoption. It also helps companies to get the most out of their digital workplace. Here, we will discuss some steps you can take to boost end-user engagement with your SharePoint site.
Determine Your Needs
Whether an intranet meets its users’ needs often determines its success. SharePoint architects need to have a detailed understanding of what those needs are and how the solution can answer them. Once the plan has been set, a developer can then include specific features (apps called web parts) that end-users will use in completing their daily tasks. Keep functionality as the prime design consideration. This helps ensure that employees have a useful resource in their company intranet.
Plan the Implementation of a SharePoint Intranet
When management mishandles the rollout of a new intranet, end-users tend to be slow to embrace the change. Personnel need to understand the benefits such a solution will offer before they can accept it into their daily routine. One of the most effective ways to ensure they are familiar with their new intranet’s features and advantages is to provide practical training on its use. Passive users who do not know how to contribute to or participate in the site have less incentive to buy into the new system than do trained end-users.
Making sure end-users don’t get overwhelmed by system changes can also help boost adoption rates. People digest gradual transitions much more easily than sudden changes. Chaos is the last thing anyone wants the process to cause. Easing employees into regular usage allows them to get familiar with the new system at a more reasonable pace.
Another way to increase engagement with the digital workplace is effective branding. Naming pages and subsites in a descriptive way can help end-users locate content efficiently. An intranet that is pleasing to look at will have more active users than one that looks dull. However, making the site look attractive should never come at the cost of making it functional.
SharePoint Intranet Homepage Design
The most visible part of any intranet site is the homepage. This is where employees begin their workday and the first thing they see before starting on assigned tasks. As such, its design should be kept simple and clean. One of the best ways to achieve this aesthetic is to keep clutter down. Another is to set up an intuitive navigation scheme.
Minimizing visual clutter on the homepage makes it feel less intimidating and more inviting to its users. Organizing data and web parts in a way that makes sense and does not confuse new users will push them to make use of the tool every day. In terms of web design, “above the fold” means visible without having to scroll down. Ensuring all content rests “above the fold” can help a page feel more approachable. A homepage with either far too many web parts or one very lengthy web part (e.g., a document library) often gives users a bunch of information that they do not need. Resources that every employee uses should appear on the homepage. Other, more specified data and tools should have their own pages. Using the promoted links web part to highlight often-used resources makes them very visible for easy access. These resources can be both inside and outside the site.
A sleek homepage looks pleasant and makes a good first impression on the end user. It does not, however, serve them well if users cannot track down the tools and data they need to perform their daily tasks. Making site navigation feel natural can help with adoption and, eventually, efficiency. Clearly linking resources on the homepage ensures end-users can easily find them. Keeping a consistent (and logical) top link bar across all pages makes sure that employees can always find what they are looking for.
Intranet Content Best Practices
The bulk of a company intranet is made up of content. This is the data that users will interact with. Administrators should try and make it as engaging as possible. For this reason, fresh content — updated regularly — should enjoy a prominent spot on your site. Using one or more of the following web parts can help SharePoint administrators keep fresh content flowing on the site.
A handy web part used to broadcast information to employees. These messages can be targeted to different categories of users based on need. Administrators can, for instance, upload important company news to the homepage so that everyone is likely to see it. On the other hand, they can post a celebratory message on a group-level page to mark a milestone on their way toward a goal. Schedule updates, policy changes, and all other types of notice that many users need to see at once have a home in the announcements board.
Calendars in SharePoint work much the same as they do in Outlook. Users authorized to contribute can mark dates and times to keep track of upcoming events. These events can range from deadlines at the project level to company holidays at the enterprise level. Administrators can even roll several into one team calendar. This lets users of a group see each other’s availability in the next few days.
One never-ending source of content is social media. Administrators can keep users up to date on the company’s activities by using a web part to embed a Twitter or LinkedIn feed on the page itself. Through this web part, personnel can engage with the company’s latest updates.
Finally, RSS feeds allow SharePoint administrators to outsource the content used on their intranet. By following feeds relevant to the company’s field, they give users to access to industry news and blog posts from trusted sources.
Seeking a More Abel Solution?
More best practices abound, and advice varies between sources. Maybe you want someone to make sense of it all for you.
If your company feels lost in the process of designing a SharePoint intranet, contact Abel Solutions today. Our team of SharePoint experts can help guide you to a robust, vibrant solution that boosts the productivity and satisfaction of your users.