Steps for Designing Your Intranet Homepage

If you have a physical office, consider your reception area. The standards are a desk for the receptionist, some chairs for visitors – maybe even a coffee table stacked with magazines. But as the first point of contact with your organisation, this reception area should make a great first impression. Perhaps you’ve got some indoor plants, art on the walls, a beautiful carpet, and a friendly face behind the desk. This inviting scene isn’t just for customers; your employees should also feel welcomed into the space. And with remote working here to stay, designing your intranet homepage as a virtual reception area for employees is paramount. 

Your intranet homepage is how your team is welcomed to work. So, what do you want them to see and feel?

What is the purpose of the intranet homepage?

We understand that first and foremost, the purpose of the intranet homepage is to provide quick access to the tools, information, and files that your team needs most. When you open a page and see exactly what you’re looking for in the most sensible place, that’s a sign of good intranet homepage design. You have a man named Jakob Nielsen to thank for that. Jakob’s Law refers to the way humans naturally interact with ‘web patterns and conventions’. It encourages page design that follows a similar layout across the board, one that people are familiar with. Its also a place for management to effectively communicate with everyone across the organisation. 

What does this look like in practice? When you open a Word document, where is the File button? Where is the X to exit? Now open your File Explorer. Notice any similarities? Open a web browser. How do you close it again? It’s this kind of consistency across different apps and platforms, designed by different people across the world, that benefits users. Our eyes know exactly where to go to find the buttons we need. But when those rules are broken, user experience plummets. If your team is having to search for buttons that should be instantly recognisable, then you’ve got an issue. 

So when you’re designing your intranet homepage, you need to ask your employees a few questions. What information do they need at a glance? It could be about who is on leave that day, impending deadlines, company announcements. How do they access the files they need, and how to do they navigate to their personal profiles? What is the most straightforward path to collaborate with other team members? 

When you organise your homepage to accommodate the way your employees access information, you’ll tick major boxes. Not only will they feel welcomed, but they’ll feel comfortable and confident getting their work done. 

When intranet design goes wrong

Bad intranet design is like a flickering light and a receptionist who doesn’t say hi – off-putting and unwelcoming. Therefore, it makes sense that a poorly designed intranet can greatly impact the experience your employees have. It’s pretty simple: if they don’t like it, or they find it frustrating, they won’t want to use it. 

This poor experience could be caused by 

  • Navigation that is overly complex or leads to dead ends 
  • Lack of investment into visual design 
  • The search tool doesn’t work properly, meaning people can’t find the information they need 
  • Choice of font and wording makes it difficult to find things 
  • Outdated content that is slowing things down/clogging up the homepage

Designing intranet homepages that are effective and enjoyable

Luckily, when you’re designing your intranet homepage, addressing the basics will serve you well. Keep your navigation tools at the top of the page, easily accessible, followed by everything else in order of importance. The goal is ease of use and the ability to move intuitively around the page. If a new employee can log into the homepage and immediately understand where things are, you’ve got an excellent design. 

Not only does the intranet need to provide easy access to the work, it should also address the ‘welcoming’ feeling. When done right, intranets have the power to build and nurture community and culture, vital for all workforces. 

Consider including the following on your homepage. 

  • Important news and something fun. Is there a company announcement like a town hall meeting, a new starter, or the opening of a store location? Maybe someone has had a huge win for the company, or a restructure of a team. 
  • A company calendar. Wait, what’s happening next Friday? Have you RSVP’d to the big party? Having a calendar marked up with company events is a great way to keep teams in the loop, ensuring people know what events are coming up in the next week, month, or quarter. You could also pop in a countdown to fun events, like the Christmas Party!
  • A team directory. This is really helpful for new starters who are still trying to learn names, faces, and roles. The homepage should have a link to a team directory, complete with pictures, job titles, and what department they’re from. To help people get to know each other, these profiles could also include hobbies and fun facts. 
  • Search bar. Don’t make people dig for things when a search bar at the top of the page can eliminate time wastage. 
  • A toolbar. What apps do your team use? Email platform? Instant messaging? Keep those buttons clear and easily accessible so that your staff can jump in an out of them with ease. This improves speed of communication and collaboration. This could also exist as quick links in a defined section of the homepage. These might be for payroll and leave forms, policies and procedures, etc.  
  • An avenue for feedback. How can your employees share their ideas and opinions? An intranet homepage is the perfect place for people to have their say, either through survey links or voting systems. This feedback could be public or anonymous and could be about anything from how to celebrate the organisation’s birthday, to input on a new policy.
Three team members look between a laptop and a smartphone, which is why designing your intranet homepage to suit both is important.

A few final tips for intranet homepage design

  • Make your intranet homepage design mobile friendly

It’s not enough for your intranet to look good and work well on desktop. Many workers access the intranet via mobile, which is why designers will recommend building a mobile layout first. 

  • Prioritise function, follow with form 

When it comes down to it, your intranet needs to help your employees do their jobs as efficiently as possible. If you don’t have the budget or time for pretty colours, graphics, and a Joke of the Day, that’s fine. If you’re following Jakob’s Law and your employees feel confident and their feedback heard, you’re doing the right thing. 

  • Partner up with a SharePoint intranet specialist

Working with an IT partner who specialises in SharePoint intranet design will take the heavy lifting off your hands. Propelle has worked with organisations all over the world to help them design SharePoint intranet homepages that are effective, look good, and increase productivity. 

If you’re interested in giving your intranet homepage a facelift, give us a call.