The DOs & DON’Ts of Intranet Design

By Cam Dred
November 11, 2017
4 min read
intranet design do

I hate to say it but there are a lot of ugly intranets out there. Believe me. I have seen them and have been called upon to do something about them on occasion. An ugly intranet is often an outdated intranet, an out-of-touch intranet or an unloved intranet. People do not want to look at an ugly intranet design any more than they want to look at my kids rotting pumpkin on the patio – not that I am cleaning that smelly mess up – the kids wanted them, they can clean them up.

Well good news, you also get to clean up your own metaphorical rotting pumpkin of an intranet design. Here are a couple of tips on how you can go about doing so. If this goes well I may have to blog again with more tips.

Your Intranet Design Needs Color

You don’t have to be Coca Cola to have brand colors. In fact, once someone has gone to the trouble of sifting through the near infinite color options available to come up with those colors that perfectly represent your brand, you will likely have used them on your public website so why not use them on your intranet site? Plus it will save you sifting through the near infinite options all over again.

“So how do I get my brand colors into the intranet?”

Well, I will tell you. Take your company logo. It will most likely contain your colors. Go to the Theme Editor, then follow these simple steps:

  • Upload the logo via the “Logo” tab
  • Go to the “Colors” tab
  • Watch as the colors have magically been pulled out of your logo
  • Add them to your menus and headers

A quick note here, there is a checkbox on the “Colors” tab which says “apply gradients where possible”. This is the year 2014, so under no circumstances will you check that box.

But what if you don’t have brand colors or are willfully ignoring the best wishes of your designer and deciding to “shake it up” and “go with something a bit different for a change”? I have good news for you. There are actually places on the internet that collect and display color palettes. You don’t have to know anything whatsoever about color. You could be color blind and still pick a nice color combination for your intranet design. (On a side note, if you are in fact color blind, you may want to run your selection past someone who isn’t to make sure your intranet design does not end up looking like a Myspace site circa 2003). Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

Instead of sifting through an infinite array of colors, trying desperately to come up with just the right relationships to capture the emotion of your exciting new brand, you can scroll through only a few million color palettes and see what you like. Adobe Color CC (formerly Kuler) is one such site.

Once you find the palette you love more than all others, run the Snipping Tool program on PC (press Command + Shift + 4 on a Mac) and drag your crosshairs to capture just the area of your selected color palette.

“So how do I get my brand colors into the intranet?”

Wait you asked that before. Well the answer is the same. Take your sample color palette screen capture and upload it as the logo for your site on the “Logo” tab in the  Theme Editor. Once again, your image is scanned and by pure magic, your colors will deposit  on the “Colors” tab. As I said before, BLAMMO!

Intranet Design & Screen Resolution

“Help! It is 2019 and my intranet is still 800 pixels wide!”

How well does your intranet fit on your screen? In the olden days, intranets were jammed onto screens as small as 800 x 600. My watch has better resolution than that. People commonly used the “expand to browser” setting, which worked well for very small resolutions, but now with a larger screen the intranet design is too stretched to read the content in a comfortable manner.

On the other hand, the site may have been set to a very small fixed-width and now the users are seeing large amounts of empty background space on either side of the intranet layout. In both cases, it may be time to expand the width of your site.

Find out if there is a standard resolution for the screens in your company. Statistics tell us that 93% of screens are now 1280 x 800 or higher and 99% are 1024 x 768 or higher. This means that you can set your fixed-width site to 1000 or even 1200 pixels wide. Your users will thank you. I will thank you.

Removing the Intranet Design Decay

That is just a taster of a couple of things you can easily do to impact the look and feel of your intranet design. The pumpkin has been cleaned up and the smell is beginning to dissipate. Now just sit back and wait for the love to return. Have your own intranet design decay to discuss? Comment below.

By Cam Dred

Cam has been a Professional Graphic Designer for more than 16 years in the technology industry. With a diverse work history and passion for all visual arts, Cam has provided indispensable value to the Intranet Connections Team. He balances his work life by actively travelling, seeking unique collector's items and grumpily critiquing poor design practices.