Top 10 Features of a SharePoint Intranet

Every organization is unique, and our digital tools should reflect our company culture. However, there are quite a few commonalities that we see throughout most organizations no matter their size or industry. For the last 20 years, we’ve worked with organizations of all shapes and sizes. During this time we’ve learned that personalization plays a huge part in user adoption and the overall success of the intranet. That being said, many crossover features can still be customized to meet your needs that others have proven are successful over and over again. Here are the Top 10 tried and true features we have found are most commonly included in successful intranets.
 

  1. Feature: Bookmarks
    • Why it’s important: Bookmarks provide easy access to important pages and external links. This provides a low bar to meet for quick customization on a per user basis. Bookmarks also provide each of your users the ability to tailor the portal in ways that make sense for them.Bookmarks are often call “Tools”, “Services”, or the dreadfully named “Quick Links” or “Useful Links” which implies other links are either slow, or not useful. Providing a method for your end users the ability to customize aspects of navigation help improve adoption and utilization.
    • Example Use Case: Links that are related to an individual’s specific job duties.
  2. Feature: Mega Menu
    • Why it’s important: Mega Menus provide easy to digest navigation for more complex IA. Homepages and Navigation are coveted real estate; many groups within an organization want their space on the homepage or their space in the primary navigation. Megamenus provide more space to meet these needs.Mega menus can provide one click access to a larger selection of an Intranet, yet plan your navigation with care. Mega menus done wrong with too many links, or inflexible categorization may hind usage.
    • Example Use Case: Easier display of multiple level navigation, Top-level, category and 3rd level links. Sites with intricate/nested structure can take advantage of the mega menu to clearly direct users to the correct location.
  3. Feature: Powerful Search
    • Why it’s important: Search is critical to allowing users to find information quickly and efficiently. Most users are familiar with the way they search outside of their intranet, i.e. Google, and so they often expect a similar experience. Enhancing the search experience with predictive search and customizing the refiners and filters will ensure users find the information they are looking for.
    • Example Use Case: Search that crawls multiple sources and returns results on a single page for easier access.
  4. Feature: Personalized Features Like News, Events, and Tasks – Subscription or user-profile based
    • Why it’s important- Large organizations or organizations with multiple locations/sectors often have a wide variety of news, events, tasks, etc. that are not relevant to all departments and locations. This feature allows you to present the most relevant and important information by individual needs.
    • Example Use Case:  User subscribes to Phoenix news vs. corporate because they are in a satellite office.
  5. Feature: Tools List (a curated list of links from the organization that the user can have quick access to)
    • Why it’s important: Tools lists provide access to links that the organization has found users need or want.Tools lists may be similar to Bookmarks. Bookmarks are designed to be generated and curated on a per-user basis, while Tools are often provided by the organization as a select of common tools or services within an organization. Tools may be extended by per-user filtering based on metadata such as a user’s profile or defined preferences.
    • Example Use Case: Time sheet links, other third party tools that organization uses.
  6. Feature: Calendar
    • Why it’s important: A calendar feature keeps the team up-to-date on upcoming events.
    • Example Use Case: Display a corporate calendar with all upcoming events that are relevant to users throughout the organization.
  7. Feature: Metadata/tags/terms on News Articles
    • Why it’s important: Metadata/tags provide another layer of categorization that allows users to search for similar content.
    • Example Use Case: User can click on a topic of interest and view a filtered list of news articles with that same tag.
  8. Feature: RSS Feeds
    • Why it’s important: RSS feeds enable users to consume external news sources, social media feeds, etc.
    • Example Use Case: Show latest social media content on intranet, show industry news, etc.
  9. Feature: Local time, Other Time Zone(s)
    • Why it’s important: This feature personalizes the page for the user and allows them to see other location local times.
    • Example Use Case: Show times of other main office locations to help users know when they can call/contact people there.
  10. Feature: Corporate Directory
    • Why it’s important: This feature allows you to search for people in your organization and discover more about who makes up your team.
    • Example Use Case: An employee needs assistance from a subject matter expert outside of their department, but doesn’t know where to start. With the corporate directory feature they can search by expertise to find the right person for the job.

 
The bonus feature below is creeping into our top 10 due to recent projects and we don’t expect that so change, so we felt it deserved to make the list.
 
BONUS Feature: Social Engagement (surveys, polls, shout-outs)
Why it’s important: Social engagement provides a way for users to engage with the site in fun and familiar way.
Example Use Case: Poll on current relevant issues, shout-out app to praise other employees
 
Did we miss something in our Top 10? Let us know! Does this list sound like something that would help your organization take your intranet to the next level? A PixelMill team member would love to chat with you more about how we can help make your intranet a place your employees not only use, but love to use.

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