Your intranet software does so much more than organize your school’s data, documents, and employees.
The intranet is the place where your staff will spend most of its day. The design, functionality, and versatility of your intranet can help ensure your team remains energized and on-point throughout their workday.
This is particularly true for schools with campuses in various geographic locations, as the intranet helps you share common educational objectives and communication needs in a secure system.
When designing or redesigning your school/university website, make sure you factor in how your intranet will coexist within this website and content management system (CMS). Some CMS platforms (including the most popular CMS on the planet) don’t work well to accommodate the specific needs your school has for its intranet.
Knowing what to look for in a school/university intranet
Most school administrators know the intranet to be a place to share information on a website that’s only available to people who have credentials to access it. This could include manuals, handbooks, directories, documents, image libraries and more.
But the intranet can and should offer you so much more, in terms of functionality and experience.
Here are 6 features you should look for in your school’s intranet
#1 – Personalization
Your school staff is made up of many different people, each with their own roles, credentials and more.
Your school’s intranet should be able to be personalized based on the user. In other words, you should be able to deliver content to different groups of employees based on role, function, and location.
This ensures that your intranet experience is engaging and useful, without overwhelming your staff.
#2 – Configurable template options right from the box
One of the significant reasons why schools put off a web redesign or intranet upgrade is because administrators fear a delay in productivity or school functionality.
But often times, these upgrades or redesigns are necessary to maintain the integrity of your school’s mission, or to keep up with the latest technology and security measures.
The intranet platform you choose should come with configurable templates right from the box. This will allow your team to go live quickly, while utilizing the most appropriate designs and layouts to meet your needs.
These configurable templates should include:
- An easy to use library of popular pages or site templates
- Classic intranet homepage and landing page options
- Employee profiles
- A communication site
- Team or project workspaces
- The ability to configure each template
- The ability to purchase ready-made templates from 3rd parties if needed
#3 – Easy tools to create/edit content
The success of your school’s intranet relies on the quality of its content, so you need to make sure you can avoid or overcome technological barriers.
Your intranet of choice should make it easy for your staff to create their own news, articles, and blogs, without the need to have mastered in computer science.
Ideally, you’ll be able to work with a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor, which essentially simplifies how you add text and images onto a web page.
#4 – Tools for Findability
Your staff relies on the school’s intranet to access information for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the size of your school, chances are your intranet’s library of resources is massive.
That’s why it’s important that your intranet feature comprehensive search capabilities (including basic and advanced search), to help your team finish their tasks on time.
Beyond search capability, your intranet should make it easy for each content creator to optimize their work with meta data (titles, descriptions), which will only make finding that content later on much easier.
Some of the most advanced intranet-friendly CMS options (like DNN) feature hashtag-capability as well (used in the same way you’d search for a hashtagged topic on Twitter).
#5 – Great employee directory and profiles
The purpose of the internet is to connect people across the globe. But the purpose of your intranet is to connect your team with one another.
That can only be done if your intranet features advanced capabilities with your employee directories and profiles.
Make sure your school intranet makes it easy to upload profile photos, edit profiles at the user level, and can be integrated with employees’ social networks.
These features will ensure that your team can find contact information quickly for team members, and can locate experts and build teams as needed for certain projects.
#6 – A great mobile experience
Chances are you know how important it is for your website to be mobile friendly. Most searches these days are initially conducted on mobile devices, meaning your website needs to be optimized for small screens.
But don’t overlook the importance of building a mobile-friendly intranet either!
Chances are members of your team (including, of course, recruiters) will be on the road but will still want or need access to the school’s intranet.
A mobile intranet supports these folks on the go while also supporting flexible working and task completion, which is sure to enhance employee satisfaction.
Ideally, your intranet should be responsive right out of the box, yet can be customized to ensure that it’s compatible with your policies and securities.
Which school intranet/CMS option is right for my project?
While there are several popular CMS platforms on the market that offer intranet capabilities, few are as robust or as scalable as DNN, which is why institutions such as Purdue and Cornell use it for their website and intranet.
School administrators can do virtually anything within the core features of DNN’s intranet, and can turn to premium extensions to accomplish tasks that aren’t natively found in the platform.
Within its core features, DNN allows unlimited user roles and users, and can set permissions so specific as to allow one group of employees access to a feature on a web page (like a calendar) while restricting others on the team.
With the help of 3rd-party extensions, DNN users can also set permissions on a document level, allow editing of documents online, and make it possible to index and search documents for easy access.
As you develop your school’s website, be sure to factor in the needs of your intranet early on. You may discover that the CMS platform you had in mind for your web project simply can’t handle your intranet needs as seamlessly and intuitively as you’d like.