How to Build a Great Intranet Design Theme

By Doug Sabiston
May 4, 2016
4 min read
intranet design

Summary: 4 tips for building engaging intranet design themes, from understanding color to reflecting your brand’s image.

When we think of intranet design it’s usually about things like usability, interfaces, structure, and content. Often overlooked is the importance of a visually-appealing intranet design theme. It doesn’t have to be eye candy, but if your staff don’t like it, your intranet won’t reach its full potential. Content will be glossed over, engagement will suffer, and worse, some employees may just not use it altogether. Whether you’re the do-it-yourself type, or have the luxury of a graphic designer at your disposal, utilizing these tips will help you create a good-looking intranet that your employees will love.

If You Theme It, They Will Come

The Advanced Design Editor provides you with the most control over your site theme. Here you can customize your theme (aka “skin”) in a multitude of ways. To use the Advanced Design Editor, go to the Design tab in Admin, and click on the Advanced Editor link under Home Site Theme. If you have more than one site, such as multiple sites for each department, you can select it in the dropdown menu. Here you can change colors, fonts, and images for everything from menu boxes to site headers and even the site background. Go ahead and give it a try. You can preview your changes and undo anything you don’t like.

Understand Color

Color is all around us. Whether we’re consciously aware of it or not, color influences our mood, emotions, and even our behavior. Because of this, choosing the right color palette for your intranet’s theme is hugely important. Unless you are one of the lucky few who are gifted in visual arts, you must reach beyond your own subjective preferences to ensure a favorable perception among most users. Choosing the right color palette for your intranet design requires some understanding of color theory and even some color psychology. Both are subjects so big that a single blog post can’t do them justice, so if you’re interested in learning more, it’s a good idea to do some further reading. In the meantime, our Simple Design Builder will automatically pull in colors from your brand’s logo to create a palette that complements your logo. You can use this palette to theme the rest of your intranet.

Reflect Brand Image

We all know brand image is important for public internet sites, but it’s important for intranets, as well. While your intranet doesn’t have to have the same look and feel as your public site, your design should still align with your corporate image and culture. Your choice of colors and graphic images will go a long way in achieving this. Pay special attention to your company logo and site header, as they’re usually the first thing users see and set the tone for the rest of the site. Branding should be strongest on the home page, as well as other top-level and centralized pages, but it can be thinned out on lower-level pages. Even if your graphics budget is tight, an effective yet simple header image, in conjunction with your company’s logo, can do the trick. Fortunately, you likely already have a company logo and established company colors. Go ahead and choose different shades and gradients of these colors to create a brand-appropriate color palette that can be repeated throughout the site.

Get Feedback

Get feedback from other people along the way. Before starting, consult other stakeholders and compile a list of intranet design requirements. While you’re working on the project, seek constructive criticism from managers and colleagues. Once the site is live, consider adding a voluntary survey for all staff. The collective experiences of others may uncover things that you weren’t aware of. Although a lot of this feedback will be subjective, it will be useful in improving the site’s look and feel.

What are some other tips you use for building intranet design themes? Let me know if I’ve missed any in the comments section.

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By Doug Sabiston

Doug is a web developer, writer and photographer with a passion for everything digital. He graduated from Kwantlen Polytechnic University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, specializing in Web and Mobile App Development, with an additional diploma in Journalism & Public Relations. Prior to Intranet Connections, Doug was a freelance web developer where he developed several web apps. Doug looks forward to growing in web & mobile development with the Intranet Connections team and in his spare time, he tends to his saltwater reef aquarium and temperamental cats.