Intranet Design

7 Must Haves in a Digital Workplace Solution in 2020

7 Must Haves in a Digital Workplace Solution in 2020

There’s no denying that SharePoint is the most prevalent intranet platform when it comes to organization and internal communications today. SharePoint and Office 365 intranets are gaining significant ground for the contemporary employee engagement and collaboration features they provide, along with traditional intranet features such as internal communication and information management.

Top 7 Enhancements to Explore in Origami Intranet’s Upcoming Release Built on Modern SharePoint

Top 7 Enhancements to Explore in Origami Intranet’s Upcoming Release Built on Modern SharePoint

Discover Origami’s upcoming Modern SharePoint Intranet release - Hummingbird. Engage your employees and enable them to excel in their roles with Origami SharePoint intranet. Read the blog now to explore the 7 enhancements to the upcoming release built on modern SharePoint. Shape Your Perfect Intranet with Origami today!

4 Best Practices for Evolving Internal Communications to Digital

4 Best Practices for Evolving Internal Communications to Digital

Explore the best practices for evolving your internal communication to a truly digital communication approach. Take advantage of technology to elevate your internal communication and give your employees access to superior communications.

Social Intranet Features: What They are and How To Use Them

Social Intranet Features: What They are and How To Use Them

See how you can enhance employee engagement at your organization with a social intranet to encourage employee connection and collaboration. Find out what social intranet features consist of and how best to use them at your workplace.

Intranet Design Trends for 2019

Summary: Among the top intranet design trends for 2019, these stood out: focus on Information Architecture to improve information findability, reduced average time to build an intranet using pre-built structures and tools , and finally focus on involving intranet team stakeholders to represent wider audience of the business.

Intranet Teams and Stakeholders

Your Intranet Team composition plays a vital role in how your intranet will be designed, launched, and adopted.

An Intranet team includes:

  • Project team, which is the team of stakeholders who design the intranet.

  • Operational team, which is a team of authors and support staff to help run the intranet once it’s launched

Intranet Project includes the following roles:

  • Representative from each of main Content Areas

    • Communications

    • Human Resources

    • IT

    • Other areas of the business, such as “Safety”

  • Project Manager

  • Project Sponsor

While the operational team usually consists of:

  • Intranet Manager

  • Content authors

  • Support staff

The trend has been showing that the best intranets out there, have on average, 10 intranet stakeholders (Project + Operational team) for a small or medium size organization, and up to 20 stakeholders in a large organization.

Intranet Stakeholder Team Size for Award Winning Intranets as tracked by Nielsen Norman each year

Intranet Stakeholder Team Size for Award Winning Intranets as tracked by Nielsen Norman each year

These are not all full-time roles, although larger organizations commonly have a full-time intranet manager and one dedicated support staff member. The rest are part-time resources: content writers and contributors.

The key for the intranet project team is to have even distribution among your key content area owners. This allows for even representation for your organization audience rather than heavy focus on just key areas, such as: IT or Communications.

We also recommend measuring outputs in your design workshops to ensure that input received from a small group of stakeholders doesn’t carry bias. Here is how we recommend measuring outputs from the information architecture sessions produced by an intranet team.

Organization Staff Size Intranet Project Team Size Operational Team Size (FTE)
100 6 0.5
1000 7 1
10,000 9 2

Here is also a guide on how many stakeholders to include in your intranet teams (project + operational) relative to the size of the organization:

Focus on Information Structure

The key goal for an intranet apart from communication is to help staff find information: Forms, Guides, Policies, Templates, Business Resources etc.

Organizations have seen over the years that staff struggle when looking for information in structures which haven’t been designed with Information Architecture (IA) usability principles in mind. Traditionally, the findability issue has been attempted to be solved with extensive branding and custom development.

Organizations have observed that well thought out IA design helps their users achieve better usability and adoption results as compared to extensive branding and customizations.

As more companies realize this, IA design is one of the growing trends during the intranet design phase.

Office 365 Hub Sites

Even with Microsoft’s introduction of hub sites, the issue of well-designed IA doesn’t go away, since information architecture still needs to be considered even though it’s easier to move the sites around. Here is more about the impact of hub sites and things to know.

Reduced Development Time

Rollout times have decreased dramatically over the past 5 years. Typical intranet project lasted about a year for a larger organization before it’s rolled out. This is a significant reduction from the previous years as you can see from the chart below produced with data from Nielsen Norman research.

Using pre-built solutions reduce that timeline. Medium sized organizations can deploy and launch intranets in 6-8 months or less.

Here is the historical trend for larger organizations:

Average number of years typical larger sized organization has invested in creating an intranet according to Nielsen Normal research. The trend for the past 5 years is about 13 months to create and launch an intranet.

Average number of years typical larger sized organization has invested in creating an intranet according to Nielsen Normal research. The trend for the past 5 years is about 13 months to create and launch an intranet.

Another streamlining factor is that organizations are taking more agile approaches. The most suitable method is building an intranet with minimal viable release first and deploying incremental updates after the intranet has launched.

Minimal viable release still focuses on key goals for the intranet, which means laying the foundational core components such as user interface design and IA design. This aspect is confirmed by a measuring only award-winning intranets according to Nielsen Norman.

Most Popular Features

Intranet feature trends for 2019 include the following top 10 picks:

  • News and Events + Targeting

    • Most organizations’ primary mechanism for sharing information, company news, employee news and events. Targeting news to a particular role or location is another growing trend for organizations of larger size and distributed workforce.

  • Employee Directory

    • Common across organizations small and large is the directory of staff. The growing trend is to have the data in the directory auto-populated from Office 365, reducing room for data entry error and keeping the directory up-to-date.

  • Forms Directory

    • This is commonly requested to help staff find relevant forms.

  • Templates and Samples Directory

    • Another common feature aimed at retaining knowledge and building consistency in deliverables companies are producing.

  • How-To Directory

    • Commonly used for employees (newly onboarded more frequently) to find common tips on for example: how to use suppliers, order services, work specific technology etc.

  • Policies Directory

    • Similar to How-To, a place for staff to find company rules and engagement steps in a single easy to find place.

  • Project Directory

    • With many organizations working projects-based (internal or external), the need for a centralized project directory and ability to locate project sites is growing.

  • Workflow automation and Self Serve

    • The demand for self-serve is on the rise whether it’s a request to provision a new project site, or track HR processes and collect signatures.

  • Mobility

    • Mobile responsive rendering is growing in demand due to staff accessing intranets from mobile devices.

  • Department Sites

    • Department sites are still a common ask among customer who would like to provide department specific information and content on their department site.


In summary, among top intranet design trends for 2019, we have: increased focus on Information Architecture to make information much easier to find, reduced average time to build and intranet and using pre-built intranets to achieve that, and finally more focus on involving intranet team stakeholders representing wider audience of the business.

Have a question? We’d love to hear from you!


Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.


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

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.





Public-facing website


Opensource that’s highly flexible

Full-time large team, fair budget, fair timeline


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 due to naming restrictions but have a meaningful name for the site itself which can be used for as an intranet 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.


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



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!

SharePoint Intranet Branding Expert

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.


6 SharePoint Intranet Examples and Templates

6 SharePoint Intranet Examples and Templates

We've put together several of our favorite SharePoint site examples all built using Origami to help you come up with some amazing ideas! Learn the essential components for great intranet templates today!

13 Things You Should Move to Your SharePoint Intranet

13 Things You Should Move to Your SharePoint Intranet

Enhance productivity and information access at your organization with this incredible list of 13 things you may not have even considered for your SharePoint intranet. Uncover the best content and information to move to your SharePoint intranet now in this amazing list.

Moving from Fileshare to SharePoint? Key Strategies to Building Reliable Metadata

Summary: Moving away from Fileshare to SharePoint is one of the most painful exercises most organizations describe. With the structured approach, you can simplify this process to just few workshops and end up with rock solid, and easy to find structure. Avoid using existing folder names as your new SharePoint structure and simplify existing containers first before defining metadata.

Although we’re builders of intranet-in-a-box, we often consult on the SharePoint migration projects. One of the most common challenges in any organization using fileshare, is migrating this old structure to SharePoint. Even with a wealth of tools available in SharePoint around content findability, such as metadata and tags, you need input is required from your teams.
So, how do we go about it in just few simple workshops?


First, you’ll need to bring the right people to the table.
Here are few guiding principles:

  • Understand which teams own content in your existing fileshare

  • Ideal group size is 4-6 stakeholders

    • Ensure people in the room are content owners, and members who can assign tasks and allocate resources for their team. This doesn’t have to be the same person, hence we recommend 4-6 people per team.

    • Ensure everyone in the room is likely to contribute for their area and not just listen in.

Content Audit

You have picked the right people, now onto the content audit.

First, why do we need content audit? Don’t we already know what content is in our fileshare?

Our experience shows the following:

  • Not everyone on the team knows everything about their existing fileshare structure

  • Much of the structure is obsolete, ad-hoc, with lots of catch-all folders

  • Every workshops we ran, had people discover something new about the content based on their peer’s input

Running the workshop (in person)

  • Request for participants to individually write down types of content their own and work with.

    • Give examples, such as: project status report, project plan, risks and issues etc. This will help ideas flowing

  • Ensure participants work individually.

  • Request each participant to share their individual types of content and let others ask questions

    • Keep other participants interaction only for clarifications, not brainstorming, countering, or questioning workflow or business flow. There will be separate activity to cover that :)

Remote participation

More often than not we work with hybrid teams where some participants are at the office and others are remote. There are facilitation techniques we use to accommodate this, which is a whole different topic, and with the right mix of technology and facilitation participants as as productive as in on-site meeting. The key to remote session is preparation and make sure everyone can contribute without feeling left out.

The Result

As a result you will end up with a sample structure like below. And by the way, with all the pre-work to get to this point will only take about 45 min with an experienced facilitator.

This chart illustrates how proposed governance updates can be prioritized to determine which ones to tackle next.

Defining New Content Structure

Now that we have all the content on the table and everyone has the context of what everything is, it’s time to shape this into a tree.

The task is to: group relevant content into logical groups or clusters and assign labels to each cluster. For example: [Contract Template], [Agreement Template], and [SOW Template] can be collectively put into category called [Templates].

Towards the end of this exercise you will end up with something like this, notice how various content types cluster around themes forming what we call SharePoint Content Type:


At this point we spent only about an hour and 1/2 and already have a good idea how the new repository will look like. Next, we finalize the structure.

Selecting Metadata and Tags

With the metadata you can group content by any number of tags, virtually creating “folders” on the fly. With the folder, you get to navigate the structure in a fixed format.

Regardless of method you chose to structure your content, folder or metadata, using the output from the previous exercise, it’s easy to build the final structure.

Here are some guiding principles when tagging your content:

  • Use auto-tagging feature in SharePoint to tag content automatically when it’s dropped into a specific library or folder (if you chose to go with folders).

  • Avoid creating hierarchies deeper than 3 levels. For example: [Project Alpha] -> [Deliverables] -> [Fact Sheet] is a good example of 3 level hierarchy.

  • Avoid manual versioning and creating folders to manage those. For example, avoid: Contract_v3_final, instead rely on built in versioning features to version your content.

    • This may sound like nothing to do with the metadata but we often see people create folders for Draft/Final documents which affects content structure

  • Don’t confuse Metadata with a Document Type. This might sounds obvious but people make this mistake all the time. Consider this scenario:

    • Should [Balance Sheet] be a content type or the [Year]?

    • The correct way is [Balance Sheet] as a Content Type since and [Year] is a Metadata field.

      • NOTE: Content Types reflect entities around which rules are formed (archival, retention etc). Metadata, in this case [Year], is merely a descriptor/property of the entity.

    • As obvious as it is, many fileshare structures out there have the exact opposite in how folders are structured.



When we follow this collaborative approach with the client we see huge increase in adoption and decrease in support. The tempting alternative of bringing structure from fileshare will bring old problems to the new environment. We have used this approach on number of projects over the years and refined it meticulously for the best results, so if you have questions about details - drop us a note!

What are some of the challenges you found when migrating from fileshare to SharePoint? Leave your comment below.

SharePoint Intranet Expert

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.


Essential Intranet Design Examples and Templates

Essential Intranet Design Examples and Templates

Explore SharePoint intranet design templates to provide you with food for thought if you’re thinking of creating a new intranet at your organization. Understand essential intranet design and templates to achieve a successful intranet platform.

SharePoint Intranet Essentials and Must-haves for a Modern Intranet

SharePoint Intranet Essentials and Must-haves for a Modern Intranet

Uncover SharePoint Intranet feature essentials to create a modern intranet that truly elevates and enhances your workplace. Gain insights from SharePoint intranet experts on the features that your intranet absolutely must include for success.

The Subtle Art of Making a Great Intranet: A HR Perspective

The Subtle Art of Making a Great Intranet: A HR Perspective

Uncover the subtle art of creating a SharePoint intranet through the eyes of a HR Director! Read the full interview now to learn how this HR Director leveraged her experience to create a SharePoint Intranet that employees love!

How to Keep your Intranet Scope Under Control While Doing Interactive Design

How to Keep your Intranet Scope Under Control While Doing Interactive Design

Interactive design is a great way to create the best intranet scope but it’s important to have limitations in place so they intranet scope doesn’t get out of hand. Find out all you need to know to create the best intranet scope now!