Impactful intranet designs to refuel employee engagement
The intranet homepage is hot real estate. But with so much pressure to make a great first impression, where do you start with designing the ultimate homepage? We’ve pulled together inspiring homepage designs from big-name brands to help you create a homepage that wows your employees and sets your platform up for success.
Intranet homepages are hot real estate
Intranet homepages are hot real estate. The front door to your platform, the homepage is the first page your people see when they log in. Get it wrong, and you risk losing your audience at the first hurdle. Get it right, and you create a welcoming environment that inspires your people to engage further.
Today intranets don’t just support comms; they’re true business enablement tools. From collaboration to productivity, the modern intranet solves business-wide challenges, connecting employees with the people, knowledge, and systems they need to thrive. And as the digital workplace replaces the physical, the intranet is only growing more important. That means the pressure is on to get it right.
The big challenge is - with so many opportunities to add value to the employee experience - it can be difficult to know what belongs on the homepage. There’s a temptation to throw everything and the kitchen sink into the design – but that’s not what your people want. Noisy, confusing homepages give employees the ick.
Think about your physical HQ reception. It’s clean; it reflects your brand identity; jolly receptionists are there to welcome you to the office with a smile. That’s how your intranet homepage should be.
So how do you design an intranet homepage that inspires engagement and puts the information your people need at their fingertips?
Intranet design 2021: Innovative designs to inspire employee engagement
Intranet design 2021 showcases some of the most innovative, interesting, and effective examples of UX and employee experience design. Featuring: The Estée Lauder Companies, British Airways, Crayola, and more, this guide is filled with inspiring intranet design ideas to help you deliver world-class employee experiences.
The basics of intranet homepage design
Just like there are thousands of different ways you could design your office space, there are just as many ways to tackle intranet homepage design. But most well-designed homepages have these things in common:
#1. Simplicity is key
Messy, overpopulated homepages are a big no-no. The best homepages have a strategic focus on the elements that matter most. Most lead with featured news at the top, but what goes on ‘beneath the fold’ is where things get interesting. Some companies choose a collaboration focus that promotes social channels, events, and employee profiles. Others prioritize productivity enablement with links to popular applications and key resources. Think about what matters most to your people, what you’re trying to achieve as a business, and where your intranet can add the most value to work out what to prioritize.
#2. Lead with brand values
Your intranet homepage should feel as much a part of your enterprise as your office space does. The color palette, the logo, the imagery: everything should feel like it comes together to represent the best of your business. And when it comes to the functional elements of the page, it can help to be guided by your brand values. If transparency is important to your business, spotlighting leadership comms could be the way to go. If you’re all about community, think about putting social channels front and center.
#3. Listen to your users
Assuming you know what your users want from your homepage is the cardinal sin of intranet design. You’ll never please everyone, but you can have a good go at it. Focus groups that include employees from various roles, locations, and demographics will help you to ascertain varying expectations. What do they like about what you currently have, and what would they want to see more of? This qualitative data will help you curate a list of priorities that can be whittled down based on business needs. Next, look at your analytics. What are people interacting with most? What are they searching for? Which pages are the most popular? This data will tell you what your people are most interested in so you can consider whether it’s worth spotlighting on your homepage.
#4. Iterate over time
What works well now might not be as effective in a year’s time. The key to designing an impactful homepage is iterating over time. If you keep conducting your listening activities at regular intervals, you’ll be able to keep up to date with whether your homepage is still serving your users the content they need most. Don’t be afraid to trial new designs and track analytics to see if they’re working or not. Modern, low-code intranets mean making changes to your design is as simple as drag and drop. Keeping your homepage fresh will keep users returning over time.
Designing an award-winning intranet
Take an exclusive look at the world's best intranets of 2021 as selected by Nielsen Norman Group. As the first company to win four best intranet awards, discover what it takes to design an award-winning employee experience platform and get your questions answered by the teams that make it happen.
3 award-winning intranet designs to inspire your homepage refresh
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to look at how leading enterprises are executing. What does a world-class intranet homepage look like? These three enterprises have all won awards for their intranet designs, and each has tackled homepage development differently.
The Estée Lauder Companies’ magazine-style homepage
In 2022, The Estée Lauder Companies became the first beauty enterprise to win a Nielsen Norman Group Intranet Design Award. MyELC was selected as the world’s best intranet of 2022 on account of its sleek design, intuitive usability, and exceptional personalization.
With 60k+ globally distributed employees working across diverse roles, from retail stores to manufacturing plants, creating a single homepage design that worked for everyone was a challenge. ELC focused on creating an editorial-style homepage that reflects its brand identity through bold imagery, a consistent color palette, and a focus on unified cultural values.
Stand out homepage elements:
- The featured news widget at the top of the homepage brings the most popular and important content to users in a visual carrousel
- A banner below featured news highlights important cultural campaigns that promote causes close to the enterprise’s heart
- The ‘My Latest News’ widget collates stories based on the user’s role and interests. Users can select topics and authors to follow to tailor the content they receive
- MyELC Tips helps users to maximize the value of their platform. Since the platform is less than a year old, spotlighting tips and tricks helps users to get familiar with new functionality
- Trending topics let users know what other people in the company are talking about. Selecting any of the topics will take them to a list of related content so they can dial into the conversation
The Estée Lauder Companies: Designing the world's best intranet
Discover how The Estée Lauder Companies is transforming employee experience and internal communications for 60k+ global employees with Unily's employee experience platform. Get an exclusive look inside the world's best intranet of 2022 and learn why MyELC made history as the first-ever beauty company intranet to feature in the Nielsen Norman Group's Intranet Design Annual.
iRobot’s employee-led homepage refresh
iRobot was the People’s Choice homepage winner at the Unite 22 awards. The company refreshed its homepage design in 2022, using a mixture of platform analytics and employee feedback to optimize the design to better meet its people’s needs. The refresh focused on creating a greater balance between communications and more tactical information, such as the ability to request holiday, access applications, and links to important subsites.
Stand out homepage elements:
- Apps and tools links have been moved from the bottom of the page to the top to help employees quickly navigate to other systems they rely on
- A weekly polls widget spotlights the importance of employee feedback, encouraging employees to share their views on important topics to help shape company strategy. Polls are refreshed weekly to keep employees coming back to the platform
- The Kudos Leaderboard has also been given a higher position on the page on account of heavy usage. Employees are able to award their peers with Kudos as a way of saying thanks. The leaderboard tracks the most appreciated employees across the business, putting recognition at the heart of company culture
- Finally, a custom-built Newest iRoboteers widget spotlights new employees entering the business. A spokesperson from iRobot said: “When we first launched, turning a manual process into an automated one was an exciting win for our Human Resources team looking to connect everyone in a remote environment"
Designing employee experience
With the Nielsen Norman Group announcing that an unprecedented four Unily intranets feature in their 10 best intranets of 2021, episode 7 of the Unily podcast discusses all things design. Paul Seda is joined by returning star Senior Consultant Alex Gabelli, and two newcomers – Product Manager Katie Johnson and Senior UI Developer Lewis Munt – to share their thoughts about designing the best employee experience.
Pearson’s strategic, simple homepage
When Pearson launched their new intranet in 2022, they were struck by the exponential opportunity to improve employee experience with a single digital HQ. With so many features and possibilities, knowing where to start was the biggest challenge. Instead of throwing everything they could at employees, they took a strategic approach that focused on surfacing only the most valuable information. They didn’t want to overwhelm employees, instead choosing to start small and evolve by adding new widgets over time.
The homepage is stripped back, with the fewest widgets of any of the examples shown. Pearson's design is a great reference point for companies launching a new platform, showing how keeping it simple can sometimes be the most impactful.
Stand out homepage elements:
- The featured news carrousel surfaces a mix of global business comms and content that matches the role, location, and interests of a specific user
- Tracking stock prices is important to Pearson’s users, so a iFrame embed brings through real-time stock prices to keep employees abreast of changes
- An upcoming events widget lets employees know about events happening around the company that they can sign up for
- To support a sense of community, four employee spotlights encourage employees to get to know their colleagues from around the business
- A quiz widget gives the homepage an interactive edge as users test their knowledge. It also helps internal communicators understand topics that employees need more information on
- Finally, the ‘Hub Tip of the Week’ widget is regularly updated to provide employees with helpful guidance on maximizing the value of their new platform
How Unily helps enterprises design the perfect homepage
#1. Drag and drop design
Can’t code? No problem. Unily is designed so that you can create impactful pages with intuitive drag-and-drop design tools. Where custom solutions require IT support to make even the smallest of changes, Unily makes designing beautiful pages simple. Choose from an ever-growing library of widgets available from our Feature Store and simply drag your widgets into the right position. Preview your designs across any device and make changes with ease.
#2. Templates make it easy
Our Feature Store also includes a list of pre-made page templates that give you a running start. Whether you’re looking for something comms-focused or collaboration-centric, there’s a ton of templates to choose from. Our product developers have chosen the best widgets for the job, so all you need to do is download the template, and you’re ready to rock.
#3. Targeted homepages deliver unique experiences
Sometimes your people’s needs vary so extensively that creating a one-size-fits-all design isn’t an option. In this case, you can lean on homepage targeting to create different experiences for different employees. Using user data, your homepages will automatically appear for the right audiences. You could also target based on device, allowing you to create variants of your homepage for mobile and desktop users.
#4. Support from intranet experts
Designing the perfect homepage is as much an art as it is a science. If you’re worried about going it alone, fear not. Unily’s Implementation Managers support enterprises from every industry to create a homepage that works for their business. After launch, Customer Success Managers help to dig through data and advise on the best way to optimize homepage design over time.
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