employee engagement intranet

7 Traits of A Winning Intranet (Part II)

Winning intranets tend to vary in look and feel, with different user experiences, applications, technology, and approaches to content and governance. And they should – every organization and culture is unique, and the intranet and digital workplace should reflect that unique culture.

There is no magic bullet or template for creating a winning intranet. A winning intranet evokes and supports the entire organization and its unique culture, work experiences and people. Hence the varying approaches and designs to great intranets.

In Part I, I described the top four traits of a winning intranet: executive sponsorship, governance, content, and content management.

The next two traits relate to employee engagement and experience, followed and supported by the all-important intranet plan.


Engage your users; ask them what they want and need, and incorporate those needs and requirements into your intranet plans and user experience.

Engaged employees are ones that feel valued by the organization, and actively seek opportunities to improve the standing of the organization. PwC and Gallup studies have found that those companies with engaged employees are more profitable and have lower employee turnover.

employee engagement intranet

e*Trade regularly engages users by undertaking intranet user surveys. Surveys include questions on overall satisfaction, most frequently used areas, favorite areas and can include a call to action such as “Are you interested in becoming an e*Channel roving reporter?”

Encouraging employees to become a ‘reporter’ and submit news to the intranet helps further engage users, and boosts home page content.

Cisco continues to keep intranet users engaged through various channels including a home page call to action that encourages employee journalistic ambitions. Located directly under the ‘News’ at the top of Cisco’s global intranet home page, is a button labeled ‘SUBMIT’. This button encourages all of Cisco’s employees, approximately 100,000, to submit news stories to the home page. While all potential stories must adhere to guidelines (available adjacent to the SUBMIT button) the SUBMIT button encourages all employees to become Cisco journalists and to drive knowledge sharing and collaboration throughout the organization.


Search is the new digital workplace glue. Search has become a mission-critical component in an intranet environment with tens of thousands if not millions of documents and files. In the greater digital workplace, which often  includes email servers, document libraries, shared drives, and countless other digital tools, the number of pages and files often increases by a factor of 10 or even 1000.

Once an organization surpasses the threshold of thousands of pages and documents, then it is just not possible to readily access all content within three clicks. Enter search, which in some organizations, has become the most used and accessed tool.

Search is so important to the intranet and digital workplace that Microsoft, despite having several search solutions, including Bing, spent several billion dollars acquiring FAST Search and incorporating it into SharePoint and Office 365. And for the first time since its inception, SharePoint has a strong search engine.

Effective intranet search should have advanced features and filters, included scoped search by information architecture category (parent) and content type, file type, date, author, etc. But the search technology alone cannot solve the challenges of information overload and content gluttony; thorough and rigorous content governance and content management is required to support and govern all content within the entire content management lifecycle (see 7 Traits of A Winning Intranet – Part I).

This includes strict rules for expiring, archiving and deleting old content (old content can kill your search engine).


Every intranet needs a detailed plan, both strategic and functional. And a plan isn’t a hastily prepared one-pager with a raft of bullets listing intranet features and functions. The intranet plan must align with and support the organization’s corporate goals and strategy, and have measurable objectives that are specific and measurable. All intranet plans require performance measures (KPIs).

If your intranet plan doesn’t have measurable outputs, then you do not have a plan.

Intranet performance metrics (KPIs) may in fact be the most important component for an intranet business plan to justify an intranet budget, and key for securing funding for an intranet redesign. One of the great advantages of an intranet is the availability of multiple measurement channels – both online and offline – for appraising performance. Popular measurement channels include log analysis, online and offline surveys, focus groups (also available online), feedback email, help desk calls and email, usability testing and return on investment (ROI).

The last measure, ROI, may be required for securing intranet funding and investment. Log analysis metrics are also an important tool in the yearly, monthly, weekly and even daily measurement of intranet traffic and usage. Popular metrics or log analysis software packages such as WebTrends enable intranet managers to track what is being used (page views, unique visitors, average user session, entry and disembarkation points, clickstreams, most common search queries, etc.) and can help pinpoint areas for improvement.

Winning intranets tend to vary in look and feel, with different user experiences, applications and approaches to content and governance. Your intranet experience must be driven by both executive and employee engagement, committed to and engendered in detailed plans, and supported by very strong governance, content management, content and search. Those that successfully execute these seven traits or imperatives will ensure a winning intranet for the organization and its employees.


Part I: 7 Traits of A Winning Intranet

Toby Ward is an intranet consultant and founder of digital workplace consulting firm Prescient Digital Media, and the founder and chair of the Digital Workplace & Intranet Global Forum conference series. Take advantage of the early-bird discount for the 2018 Digital Workplace conference at Coca-Cola World HQ in Atlanta, May 9-10.

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