The most important decision you’ll need to make when you're choosing your intranet platform is whether you go with a toolbox intranet or a turnkey intranet. This choice will impact everything in your intranet journey and outcome.
What’s the difference?
The toolbox approach allows you to assemble the intranet features you want, using templates and widgets.
The turnkey intranet is pre-configured for optimal usability and simple navigtion, but provides fewer customization options.
Why the toolbox approach?
The toolbox approach is tempting, and it’s something that many people are interested in from the outset. It’s not surprising why—we’re all human, and we like to have control.
A lot of people say to themselves: “The best option must be to custom build our own intranet, so it meets our needs perfectly.” It’s relatively easy to go through a long list of widgets and see all the “ingredients” you think you need.
However, the downfall is often in the user experience—making it easy for users to find what they need and guiding them productively through your intranet. That takes finesse and expertise to achieve.
While many people can identify how they would use a particular widget, few have the understanding of the information architecture required to assemble these into a consistent user experience that works.
Pro tip: If you’re going with a toolbox platform, hire a specialized consultant to help you craft these pieces into an optimal user experience.
The Achilles heel of widget-based intranets is that it’s easy to just keep adding things. Adding another poll to your team page, without dealing with the three old ones that are still in prominent view. Letting the HR team have another page so they can promote their new program—but how will the right people know it's there?
Soon history piles on history and your employees have a mess of stale information to navigate. This maintenance challenge never goes away.
It’s very common for intranets to launch in a healthy state, but quickly degrade into a proliferation of pages that fail to deliver a consistent user experience. The moment that happens, employees will stop using your intranet because information has become hard to discover, disorganized, and stale.
This is why poor user experiences are the leading cause of “dead” intranets. Your employee intranet should deliver a cohesive user experience, and dovetail with your overall employee experience.
Why the turnkey approach?
The turnkey approach delivers great usability. Because user experience is key, the most recent generation of intranets (vendors like Jostle and Facebook) don’t provide a toolbox of widgets for you to assemble.
These modern intranets are designed to deliver an optimal employee experience right out of the box. No consultants required. Just add in your content and you have an engaging and easy-to-maintain intranet.
This doesn’t mean you need to compromise on the features your intranet provides. Some of the turnkey intranet platforms provide a rich set of features that are organized for purposeful use and easy discovery.
That means that usability is locked in. That navigation cannot be broken. You simply add in your content week after week. The platform looks after keeping things organized, relevant, and easy to find.