intranet design

Branding an Intranet: Guidelines for Logo, Name, and Style

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Intranet branding is often confused with the user interface design. Although user interface is part of the brand there are more elements to it such as: intranet logo, intranet name, tone of writing, and design.

In this post we’ll take a look at some of the best practices when it comes to branding your intranet to make it relatable to your organization.


Style Guide & Theme

When building a brand new or redesigned intranet, many organizations reuse their public-facing website style guide.

Style guides typically contain:

  • Logo usage guidelines

  • Colors

  • Fonts and typography

  • Image usage best practices etc

There is nothing wrong with using your public-facing style guide for an intranet, but it’s important not to copy the public website’s look and feel completely.

Here is why:

Avoid Source Confusion

Often times intranet contains links to your public site. We’ve seen users confused when they click on the link in the intranet and end up on the public site thinking they’re still on the intranet. This is more typical for intranets which have near-identical design as the public site. Try to avoid that.

Remember Intranet Use Cases

Another element to consider are the types of devices people will be using when working with the intranet. This will dictate:

  • Supported screen resolutions. Intranets typically support wider screens to utilize screen real estate for document management

  • How you present content on the site. Intranet users come to your intranet much more often and content needs to be optimized for quick access.

  • How do you handle mobile devices. Mobile is less prominent for the intranet and you may save budget with only branding key areas where mobile access is important, as opposed to entire site.

Remember Intranet Audience

How and what you target as your intranet audience will drive what content should be on it.

Content targeted to employees and staff is different from content you write on the web. The table below illustrates how the audience and technology is quite different between platforms.

Public sites usually have a dedicated team authoring and maintaining the content. Intranet in turn is usually a part-time team of contributors.

 

Audience

Technology

Capabilities

Public-facing website

Millennials

Opensource that’s highly flexible

Full-time large team, fair budget, fair timeline

Intranet

Millennials, Gen-X, Baby Boomers

Intranet solution (ex.: Office 365) that does the heavy lifting, but dictates much of the UI design

Part-time small team, small budget, short timeline

Source: Nielsen Norman Group

Style Guide Best Practices

With that, here are the best practices on what to use from your public facing website style guide, and things to consider:

  • Don’t overbrand it or make it into an art showcase

    • Remember who your users are and what they need from an intranet

    • Don’t deviate from corporate branding to the point of being unrecognizable

  • Don’t replicate the public site look

    • It will set unnecessary expectations and confuse others

  • Keep fonts and colors

  • Keep page header simple

    • Majority of real estate will be used for document management; avoid taking up space

Intranet Name

The intranet name is another important aspect of branding. In fact, there are many strategies to help you come up with a creative name for your intranet including crowdsourcing with your staff.

Organizations are often afraid that crowdsourcing will produce really bad results and the company will have to either stick with it or come up with a better name. There are strategies you can use to avoid a negative outcome.

Define Intranet Purpose

It all starts with why you’re rolling out the intranet. Your staff (even if it’s just a handful of decision makers) needs to agree on that. It can’t just serve or be understood by one or two people.

Is your intranet there to:

  • Help people connect

  • To help find information

  • Document management

  • Employee engagement

  • All of the above?

Define key goals behind the intranet and come up with the name that suites that goal.

For example, the name “watercooler” sounds like it’s geared towards employee news, events and other employee related topics and not much of a place for corporate information or document management. If that’s your goal for the intranet - then it’s great; if not, you might want to reconsider.

Some Bad Examples

Avoid naming your intranet with generic terms such as:

  • “SharePoint”

  • “Intranet”

  • “Portal”

  • “[company name] Portal”

  • Abbreviations

  • Lengthy names

  • Hard to pronounce names

NOTE: Intranet URL and intranet name are not one and the same

Your intranet URL can be sharemuch.sharepoint.com due to naming restrictions but have a meaningful name for the site itself which can be used for as an intranet logo.

Logo

Intranet logo is best when it’s clear and simple, and includes your intranet name.

Things to consider:

  • Ensure you maintain square proportions as much as possible

    • Office 365, for example, uses the logo everywhere on the site and in some places, you can’t control how the system resizes it.

  • Avoid all white color logo

    • Again, office 365 out-of-the-box components use this logo everywhere. In some places you may end up with “blank” square if your logo is completely white.

  • Avoid intranet name + company logo together

    • The issue is here is that users may be confused which logo they should click on to get “back to home,“ as the logo is often link to the home page.

    • Another issue is that it increases the length of the logo and Office 365 may squeeze or resize the image, making it look disproportionate or cut off.


Footer

The purpose of the footer is to help the user find other important pages on the site and contact information for the intranet team.

It’s become common to have a large footer on the intranet and mimic site top navigation in it. It’s not a bad strategy but there are few things to consider:

  • Ensure links and information in the footer are up to date

    • Top navigation usually changes with the site structure automatically, the footer often gets forgotten and links become broken or obsolete.

  • Avoid social media icons in the footer especially if you have social media feeds on the site - this becomes duplicate information.

  • Keep number of sections less than 7 (see below; 4 sections already look busy)

  • Avoid making it flashy, it’s just a footer

SharePoint Intranet Article Page.png

Conclusion

Intranet branding goes beyond the colors of the site. It’s about the purpose and serving the content to the right audience. Make it relatable and unique enough from your company public site but not an art project on its own. Remember the resources typically available for maintaining the intranet are less than that for public site and those need to be considered.

Have a comment? Drop us a note!

Pre-built intranet. Branded, and tailored to your organization

ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky

6 SharePoint Intranet Examples and Templates

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Having an essential set of templates for your SharePoint intranet pages radically cuts down on time required to build new pages and maintain existing content. If those templates are well designed, modern and user friendly, and your content hierarchy is well designed, the adoption rates and user satisfaction increases exponentially.

We've put together several of our favorite design configurations all built using Origami to help you come up with some amazing ideas. With a just little bit of content, you have a shiny new intranet design waiting for you.

Intranet Home Page

Intranet Home page is essential and yet is often over-branded or under-branded.

Here are few important considerations for the home page intranet template:

  • Ensure your intranet has a clear name and logo

  • Use corporate colors

  • Easily accessible search

  • No need to brand quick links, just make them prominent

  • Clear and well designed navigation

  • Access to [view more] details in tools and apps

SharePoint-Intranet-Template - Intranet Information Landing Page - clear headings and sections describe groups of content on the page. Set of links [Popular Content] helps users identify forms, templates, and other articles they may want to read.

Intranet Landing Page

Landing pages for some of the key areas of the site are a must for several reasons:

  • They provide a place for users to land as they navigate the breadcrumb

  • They group similar content and help new users not yet familiar with the hierarchy

  • They are the perfect area for KPI’s, apps and widgets which display summary of information on lower levels of the site

    • For example: systems availability widget can sit on a landing page for “Business Resources“ with a link to more details. Without this design pattern the intranet would be just full of links.

Below is an example of simple yet functional landing page for departments and projects where users can navigate to the department workspace or find the project they’re working on.

SharePoint Intranet Landing Pages.png

Intranet Resource Hub

One level below each landing page is in most cases an Intranet Resource Hub.

Here are some examples of how this template is used on a typical intranet:

  • Who We Are page

  • Delivery Processes

  • Employee Benefits Information

  • KnowledgeBase hub

  • Training Site

  • New Employee Site

These are sub landing areas with content produced by one more departments serving a particular business function.

This simple yet common design makes up for the majority of intranet information pages. The main strength of this page design is the simplicity. Users expect to quickly scan the content for what they're looking for, and this design delivers just that very well.

SharePoint Intranet Resource Hubs.png

This page uses the 2 column layout available in SharePoint out-of-the-box. It takes just few min to manually put together content on this page with combination of Origami and SharePoint tools.

Intranet Hub Content Page

Below each hub, of course are article pages delivering simple access to content whether it’s a set of document libraries or just a page with relevant information. Here is an example of this design.

SharePoint Intranet Article Page.png

Few things to note here: Contacts, and breadcrumb.

Contacts app will help with governance and allow the reader to contact relevant SME for this area instead of IT or Communications. Breadcrumb helps with context of this page.

Forms and Templates Center

If there is one area each intranet should have, it's some place where staff can access samples and templates. Samples are essential to knowledge management and retaining organizational knowledge. If more of your staff can find relevant samples, the less work they need to do from the scratch.

Here is an example of how a typical Forms and Templates site looks like:

Forms and Templates Center - helps staff find relevant samples and forms. On the left hand side - [Tags], allows to filter forms by relevant category. Search box and preview panel in a center allows to quickly read more about the form before opening or downloading it. Contact   person allows to quickly reach out in case relevant form doesn't exist. Finally, if there are any recently updated forms, they will automatically show up under [Latest Updates]

Here are the other types sites which can be served using Forms & Templates Center type layout:

  • Resources

  • Glossary Database

  • Policies and Procedures

  • Knowledgebase

Another variation of this design is employee directory tool.

Project Sites

Project sites are often an afterthought and put together as a rudimentary team site with few libraries. Often time for the team member to find a file they have to navigate through folder of arbitrary chosen structure dependent on the project manager who ran that project.

We recommend using a template for your project sites just as you’d use a template for everything else. Typical project site template contains a timeline and key project phases with pre-created repositories to drop off relevant documents. Our template also includes planner tasks and notes which are useful for projects with more than 5 team members.

Here is an example of how the project site looks like in Origami.

SharePoint Intranet Project Site.png

Thanks for making it this far. If you have an existing intranet needing an upgrade, be sure to get in touch with us to see how easy it is to apply these beautiful templates to your existing site.

Pre-built intranet. Branded, and tailored to your organization

ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky

Office 365 Business Center​: set of productivity tools for your SharePoint intranet

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Office 365 Business Centre is a collection of online services that support administrative tasks, marketing, customer relationship management as well as other aspects of running the business.

At first glance, the business centre can appear simplistic, however, as you start peeling the onion of what this suite provides I trust you will find quite a few handy features that can supplement the day-to-day of running your business. 

This first post will serve as an Introduction to the Office 365 Business Centre. In Part two of the series, I will cover the initial set-up and to finish the series, a head to head comparison with a selection of best of breed tools I found in the market today that support similar workloads as those found in this area of Office 365.

What’s in the Business Center?

Invoicing

Helps you define a pricing structure for your products/services, create estimates, invoices and manage your customer information. 

Bookings

Manage bookings for you and your staff members, providing a self-service booking page for your customers, quite handy for service-oriented businesses. 

Listings

Helps you ensure your business information is presented accurately in Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp. This tool also helps you keep track of ratings and comments to always be aware of customer feedback and to respond timely to comments or reviews made on any of these online platforms. 

Connections

For building up your mailing list and send marketing emails with ease. 

Outlook Customer Manager

A lightweight CRM solution that can help centralize your customer information, create and manage deals, tasks and provide additional information on the activities related to this client with others in the team. It can be integrated with other apps like FreshBooks, Zendesk, Mailchimp and many others using Microsoft Flow. 

Mileage Tracking

MileIQ can assist in tracking your business-related car usage for expense reporting.

How do I get on it?

Office 365 Small Business Premium includes Business Center so if you have this license family, you are all set!  

As the suite was originally offered for small business clients exclusively, companies with enterprise licensing who have E3 or E5 licenses can also activate these features. If you happen to be in this camp, enabling the suite is quite easy: 

  1. Go to your Microsoft 365 Admin Centre 
  2. Under the Billing tab, select Purchase services 
  3. On the Services menu, you will find Business Centre (free), click on Buy now (which, as stated previously, it will not cause a charge for you) 
  4. Confirm your number of licenses, click Check out Now. 
  5. Review the order and click Next. 
  6. Click on Place Order. 

Once you have followed the steps, the Business Centre should appear momentarily in the Office 365 home page and the Waffle Menu under Apps.

Summary

In summary, Business Centre is a great collection of tools you might want to take advantage of today if you have it in your tenant. In my next post we will go trough the initial setup, to provide Business Centre with your company information and kick the tires.

Next Posts in this 3 part Series:

  • Part 2 – Getting down to business with Office 365 Business Center
  • Part 3Office 365 Business Center head-to-head with best of breed apps

Turn your SharePoint into a true intranet. Capitalize on your SharePoint investment

Miguel-Tena.jpg

Miguel A. Tena is an IT professional focused on workplace productivity.
For over 12 years, he's worked with communications and HR professionals to empower people to work better together. His technical experience is in tools like SharePoint, Office 365, ThoughtFarmer, Slack and others.
He loves business process improvement, finding opportunities to apply Lean methodologies and automation. Once a process has been optimized, technology can make everything faster!

@mikeware_tena

Essential Intranet Design Examples and Templates

Check out a selection of our favorite intranet design examples and templates to help you come up with the most amazing ideas to shape your intranet. View the showcase now to start creating your ideal intranet design today!