for your internal teams
Intranets are essentially an internal website focused on helping organisations to communicate with their staff more effectively, improving their ability to share information and resources, enhancing collaboration, ultimately improving efficiently and effectiveness whilst also helping to develop an internal brand and culture.
Whilst an intranet is built using the same technologies as a website, the planning, design and development requirements are quite different, requiring input from HR departments, corporate communications, IT and operational departments, as well as a much wider evaluation of users individual working processes and practices, identifying opportunities to improve their workflow.
There are many similarities in planning and designing websites and intranets, however we also need to be aware that there are also some key issues/considerations when developing an intranet:
Designing the experience
Many clients want a really visually impressive intranet wth video, animation and glossy visuals, however the reality as a user is that if you have to go through this experience 30 times a day, this is going to really grate to the point that you start bypassing key sections. At the same time a purely functional approach to delivering content can be bland, dull and un-enticing. An appropriate ballance clearly needs to be struck.
Information architecture & experience
Whilst an intranet should help to improve efficiency and effectiveness, surprisingly there are times that you actually want to place disrupters, forcing individuals to change working practice and in some cases to do things off-line, forcing them to engaging with other team members…here we really need to keep an eye on the big picture.
A pragmatic approach
Most companies use many different tools and services and this creates its own set of issues due to lack of user and brand consistency, differing technical standards, and incompatible and separated authentication systems requiring users to have multiple passwords. In an ideal world a single unified environment would be designed and built overcoming these issues, however this would in many cases be cost prohibitive and compromises need to be made.
Balancing business needs vs user expectations
Users needs and desires can often differ from those of the organisation and what you want them to read vs what they are looking for can be two very different things. Clever IA and UX can ensure visitors are exposed to the content you want them to read whilst they are going about their everyday tasks.
Search does not solve everything
One of the most common miss conceptions is that a good search engine will solve all your information architecture issues, referencing Google search as a good example. Unfortunately search within an intranet context is actually really quite different as whilst google satisfies your needs by always finding you a result, what happens to the content that is not discovered?…what happens when important information ranks poorly? Search is therefore not the panacea for poorly organised content and a well thought out information architecture and taxonomy is essential.
Understanding internal politics
Whilst a website may involve many different departments within a company or organisation, the reality is that this is more often than not a marketing and communication led operation. An intranet is however potentially much more contentious, with various departments vying for control / ownership and surprisingly often not playing nice. We have seen most scenarios ranging for the Machiavellian through to the dysfunctional and even the beautifully harmoniously aligned.
There are obviously many other issues and considerations when building an intranet, and whilst the technology and many of the principals are the same as website design, a different set of processes and engagement is vital to ensuring the intranet is going to be more than just an internal website.
Talk to an intranet design consultant
Our team thrives on new projects and challenges. If you have a project in mind that you think we could add value to - then please do get in touch - we’d love to hear from you. Please call +44 1273 623 303 or
As an international network of executive search firms, Odgers tasked Liquid Light with the planning and design of their group intranet with the objective of improving knowledge sharing, interaction and cross-sell across offices/regions, helping to foster more of a one-company philosophy.
The technical implementation leveraged Odgers Berndtson existing SiteCore platform, ensuring existing tools and databases could be easily integrated into the new intranet platform.
"Feedback from users has been phenomenal - this project has been a distinct success…thank you for helping us achieve this.
Our team also provided very positive feedback about how you worked with them and they greatly enjoyed working with you on the project.”
Adam Gibson - Head of IT
With over 25,000 active users, the redesign of the Syngenta intranet require more than a little bit of design.
A detailed review of the internal communication requirements underpinned the information architecture and UX, delivering a business unit, function and geographic matrix approach to the internal communications.
From a technical perspective Sharepoint was Syngenta's platform of choice, requiring a deep understanding of the limitations and restrictions.
“The revised portal is so much more than we expected -
the team at Infocentic and Liquid Light really helped to challenge us on our preconceptions and ultimately to deliver a solution that has dramatically improved our abilities to effectively communicate across the company”
Thomas Miller comprises of 17 separate companies all operating independently within a larger support framework.
As a key pillar in Thomas Miller’s new strategy, Liquid Light was tasked with building a new group intranet which could help to foster a 'one company’ ethos, helping to improve knowledge sharing between businesses, helping to improve efficiency and the businesses ability to cross sell.
The TYPO3 CMS was used to replace the Notes based platform, improving operational up-time, performance and also significantly lowering the operational cost.
“We are delighted with the new intranet and feedback from both management and users has been very positive.
The new intranet is proving instrumental in communicating the new vision and mission.”
Kevin Sweet - Head of Marketing and Communications