Intranet strategy and intranet design: the pillars of a winning modern intranet 

March 31, 2022 Updated: April 5, 2022 by

Modern intranets make employees’ working days more convenient and manageable by connecting them to information, tasks and people. They are personalized and available anywhere they’re needed, offering an amazing user experience.  

But what does it take to make a winning modern intranet? 

In this article, we’ll explore what it takes with learnings and intranet screenshots from winners of DWG’s inaugural Modern Intranet of the Year award 2021. 

Maybe your organization already has what it takes to be a Modern Intranet of the Year winner? If so, you can still enter the 2022 awards and make your case to join the Hall of Fame. 

What makes a winning modern intranet? 

A winning modern intranet has it all: ambitious strategy, compelling business case, robust governance, an engaging design with impressive features, high user engagement and far-reaching impact in the organization.  

(But remember, you don’t have to be perfect to enter the Modern Intranet of the Year award! The judges also reward specific areas of practice in the category awards.) 

The inaugural winner of DWG’s Modern Intranet of the Year award in 2021, DBS Bank, really does have it all! Not only is its underlying strategy employee-led and evidence based, it has a highly engaging design with compelling features such as its OneBot virtual assistant and OneMobile experience for workers on the move. The DBS team – led by winner of Digital Workplace Leader of the Year, Linda Lee – is future-oriented and focused on an exceptional experience that helps achieve the bank’s goal to ‘Make work joyful’. 

DBS Bank’s intranet has a highly engaging design with compelling features such as its OneBot virtual assistant and OneMobile experience for workers on the move

Winning modern intranets are not just the preserve of large companies though! The judges also acknowledge medium-sized organizations who are doing exceptional work to deliver engaging intranets. In 2021, they rewarded Foundation Medicine for excellent work on intranet strategy, business case and features that make finding information and people easier as part of a straightforward intranet design. 

Screenshot of The Hub - Foundation Medicine's intranet design
Foundation Medicine’s The Hub

Benefits of a great intranet strategy 

Behind every amazing modern intranet is a great intranet strategy. It should clearly and precisely articulate the organization’s ambition for the intranet as well as a plan on how to get there. A great strategy is documented and communicated. It covers all the key aspects of users’ intranet experience, and is aligned to wider organizational strategy. It goes beyond the intranet refresh or implementation to set out an ongoing plan of work. 

In 2021, The Coca-Cola Company won praise from the judges for its excellent strategy articulation for its intranet, Connect. The strategy is neatly connected to digital workplace and company strategies, based on user research, and seen as central to delivering a frictionless digital experience for employees. 

The Coca-Cola Company won praise from the judges for its excellent intranet strategy
The Coca-Cola Company’s intranet delivers a frictionless digital experience for employees

Do you have a great strategy that underpins an amazing modern intranet? If so, why not enter the 2022 awards? 

Engaging intranet designs 

Winning modern intranets have engaging intranet designs that are co-created with employees and focused on making their lives simpler. We saw great examples of this in the inaugural 2021 awards.  

John Lewis Partnership was acknowledged by the judges for a successful modern intranet shaped through co-creation with its employees (‘Partners’) that delivers a reliable, single source of information for those at the frontline. A compelling design with key information and tools is underpinned by a thorough understanding of the end users and detailed personas. The intranet has even been used to crowdsource the organization’s overall business strategy! 

Screenshot of John Lewis Partnership's intranet showing its intranet design
The Partner Intranet was co-created with its employees.

Amazing intranet designs don’t just look great, they make employees’ lives simpler. This was the approach that the judges loved from category winner Robert Half, which adopts a ‘Don’t make me think’ philosophy for its intranet. Key features such as activity cards enable quick task completion by surfacing microservices from other systems. It’s a design that really delivers on the User Experience promise, with integrations and personalization that make a real difference. 

Robert Half's intranet design adopts a ‘Don’t make me think’ philosophy.
Robert Half’s intranet design adopts a ‘Don’t make me think’ philosophy.

Key takeouts 

  • Winning modern intranets are always underpinned by an ambitious and clearly articulated strategy that is sustainable and linked to wider strategies. 
  • They have great designs that engage employees and offer an array of useful features to help make their working lives easier and more enjoyable. 
  • Successful modern intranets are always – always! – based on thorough user research to understand what employees really need and want. 

If you’re on a modern intranet journey, why not test your mettle by entering the Modern Intranet of the Year award 2022

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The deadline to submit your entry for any of the awards is April 19, 2022 at midnight (BST). The winners will be announced in a Live Tour special on June 7, 2022 from 08.00 PDT / 11.00 EDT / 16.00 BST / 17.00 CEST. 

For full details of the award categories and entry criteria, and to start your entry, please visit the Digital Workplace of the Year Awards website. 

Categorised in: Digital Workplace of the Year Awards, Intranets, Strategy & governance

Elizabeth Marsh

Director of Research

Elizabeth Marsh is DWG’s Director of Research and author of its latest report ‘Digital workplace overload: How to reduce employee technostress’ (available free on our website). She’s worked as a practitioner, researcher and consultant in the digital workplace field for over 20 years and is a strong advocate for digital literacy and digital wellbeing at work. Elizabeth is currently doing a PhD at the University of Nottingham focusing on employee technostress and the potential of mindfulness to help reduce it. She also co-authored – with Paul Miller – the book ‘The Digital Renaissance of Work: Delivering digital workplaces fit for the future’.

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