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5 tips for how to build a SharePoint intranet site

While enterprise users can be hesitant to switch to a SharePoint intranet site, there are many steps that SharePoint administrators can take to control and curate the content that end users are exposed to.

Microsoft Office 365 now includes the latest version of SharePoint Online and a slew of other services and apps. For some organizations, that's an opportunity to migrate a current Intranet site to SharePoint Online.

Yet some end users may be hesitant to change to a SharePoint intranet site due to the overwhelming number of applications they may already use. Finding ways to engage users with the platform and the capabilities available is key when deciding how to build a SharePoint intranet site.

When a CIO tasks his or her team to develop a SharePoint Online implementation , the step is to define the different business challenges and processes that the application will help solve. Then, when discussing how to build a SharePoint intranet site, the implementation team should take into consideration five big ideas to get front-line employees to buy in.

1. impressions are key to setting up a SharePoint intranet

When a user is to a SharePoint intranet site, they formulate an opinion about the platform. If the intranet looks boring or lacks basic branding and color coordination, the impression might be the last.

Successful implementations of SharePoint have shown that end user experience and the look and feel of the site are critical components of its success. SharePoint administrators do not have to become graphic designers or web design gurus to address this because there are many templates online that can give SharePoint a visual boost with just a few clicks.

Platforms like Powell 365, LiveTiles, ShortPoint and BindTuning provide quick and easy ways to deliver great looking SharePoint themes with very little coding required.

2. Prebuilt SharePoint intranet sites provide a launching pad

When discussing how to build a SharePoint intranet site, a team of administrators, business stakeholders and consultants must spend time determining what challenges each department faces and what the SharePoint intranet design could look like. Unfortunately, this requires a significant amount of time.

To help reduce that time investment, some CIOs have tasked their SharePoint administrators with purchasing prebuilt SharePoint sites specifically designed with best practices for common departments, such as IT, HR and reporting. Many companies have similar needs, so it may make sense to adopt a prebuilt SharePoint intranet site from vendors such as Lanteria, SP Marketplace and BrightWork.

3. Add fresh news content and social components

For SharePoint to increase traffic, the platform must entice visitors to return to it, and anticipating new information posted since the last time they were there is a strong enticement. This can come in the form of news articles, employee spotlights, events and business content.

Also, adding a social component to the SharePoint design where users interact with each other and share feedback on different initiatives within their organization can increase interest in the site. This can be done by either integrating SharePoint with Yammer -- Microsoft's own enterprise social platform -- or creating community sites where users can post blogs and participate in discussion boards.

4. Brand the intranet design and build a campaign around it

Successful implementations must have ongoing communication with users to highlight new features and content.

To increase awareness and drive traffic to a newly developed SharePoint site, IT must ensure that members of their organization are aware and excited about the new intranet. Creating a campaign to drive awareness is a good way to accomplish that.

Some organizations brand their intranet with catchy names, while others send frequent notifications to their users prior to and after the site launch to keep them engaged. But the effort to remind users about the site should not stop there -- successful implementations must have ongoing communication with users to highlight new features and content.

5. Appoint a SharePoint intranet champion for each group

Another way to get business users excited about a new SharePoint intranet is by encouraging each business unit to have their own SharePoint evangelist -- or champion. These are users from each department that create new content for the site, understand their team's needs, provide feedback and support their team members with nontechnical assistance for SharePoint. These users can demonstrate the value of new functionality and capabilities to their business unit or department.

SharePoint administrators and CIOs can measure the site's success based on end-user adoption. Measuring the number of visitor views and the amount of content being generated are two key measures to monitor.

Compared to previous versions and configurations, SharePoint Online makes it much easier to roll out a site with very little technical know-how. But getting users to adopt it still requires some creativity and upfront .

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