Company intranet or otherwise known as ebook or information portal is a generally a website with access only made available to internal company staff. External access is blocked using the company’s internal firewall.
If you have been tasked to build the intranet for your company- what platform should you be using?
So far, there are a few platforms or content management systems that I have used and are familiar with:
- Dinosaur structure that is being build using basic programming language
Having managed intranet for over 10 years, I believe the success in the intranet runs in usability, navigation and content. You really do not require fancy stuff.
Over the years, I worked with a lot of limitation but I never give up and the intranets that I manage have become a useful reference tool for my staff.
Here are some intranet platforms that I am personally managed or become acquitted with:
Dinosaur structure using very basic programming language
By dinosaur structure, I mean that the structure of the intranet mimics the web in the late 80s and 90s. The first information portal I know when I started working was a structure that was build using Microsoft Frontpage. This was because it was all that was available during that time.
Bear in mind Frontpage and Dreamweaver sites were common before the birth of Joomla and WordPress.
The intranet was useful because the navigation was basic- you can see where you are clicking. There was 3 column site with top and side navigation.
Eventually when the company upgraded to another platform – something that was build from scratch by our IT staff in regional office located overseas which was a standard protype used in all countries where our company operates in.
It was an improved version but came with a lot of bugs which the engineers can’t seemed to fix. When I managed the site, I worked with what is available. As for the bugs, for example pages for procedures that could not open up properly, I got fed up of highlighting with nothing being done.
Because I have no programming language, I am not able to build html pages from scratch. I created a page using Microsoft word and then save it. Then I resaved in “web page” or html format. When you save in this format, there would be yellow folders being automatically generated to store images.
I update all 3 formats: the word, the yellow folders and the html page into my intranet’s document depository site. After that, I identified the link of the document in web format (htm or html) and pointed the link from a landing page to this html document.
Each time I need to do amendments, I basically just edit the word document, re-save everything in html and then upload all the 3 formats. It is very easy.
Joomla and Sharepoint format
I came to learn about Joomla platform because it was the original platform that my last company used for the intranet or ebook in my department.
At the same time, my company also had other intranets (managed by other departments) using Sharepoint.
From experience, I do not favor using Sharepoint because:
- The program, I understand is free but customization is expensive. I remember we were developing a site with customer data using Sharepoint- and someone omitted a column in the business requirement document. When they wanted to add just one more column and additional function, an additional 50k was required on top of the 300k that we already need to pay
- The site structure is rigid and it is something that you really cannot customize on your own with plugins. You need to pay for people to do it for you.
However some good point of Sharepoint is that you can easily integrate maker and checker function as most intranets would require maker and checker before any page can be published.
Whereas for Joomla or WordPress, it is not a direct function but you need do a workaround. There is also no build in audit trail. If your company’s compliance requires this function, then you would need to check if you are able to integrate these function into your intranet.
Customizing using WordPress
WordPress started as a blogging platform but have quickly risen to become the top platform used for building corporate websites. The customizations are almost limitless and you can and modify sites layouts without having to rebuild again from the ground up or go through the painful process of submitting for requirements.
If I was given the option to choose, I would design the website using WordPress. If online assessment or quiz is required, it would be outsource to specialized LMS programs that in my opinion would be able to do a better job.
You may read this article for more tips on how to build an intranet using WordPress.