Working on Your Intranet in a Sandbox Environment

By Michelle Desmarais
May 9, 2016
4 min read
Sandbox Environment

Summary: The benefits of working on your intranet in a sandbox environment with tips to create your own.

When working with customers in support, one of the common questions I am asked is “can I work on this within a sandbox environment?” The answer to this question is yes! Within the intranet, you can build out sub-sites and lock them down as necessary. The same principle applies to the idea of a sandbox environment.

Benefits of Using a Sandbox Environment

When onboarding new intranet admins, it helps to have a place where they can play around and get familiar with the functionality. Having a sandbox environment greatly improves with this process. Some other benefits include:

  • End users will not see these changes
  • Admins can have full reign to play with features and functionality
  • Items will not appear in widget feeds on the home page or in search results
  • Easy to quickly remove any content within the sandbox environment without fear of losing important items
  • Create content ‘behind the scenes’ and move it to a ‘live’ site at a later time once you are ready to push it out

Working on Content in the Back End

Many customers love the idea of being able to work on something ‘behind the scenes’ without end-users seeing the changes until they are ready for them to see them. One of the most common questions focuses on how to make changes to the home page which require sign-off from management before the change can be implemented. This is easy to do through a sandbox environment.

Home Page Changes

By creating a clone of your existing home page and moving it to your sandbox site, you can easily work on the page content behind the scenes and show it to the necessary people before pushing the home page live.

In the below example, it shows a flag icon when you hover over the ‘home page’ card on my pages screen. This indicates that you can switch this page to be your new home page. In order to push it live, you would first move the page to your home site, and then click the flag to make this your new home page.

Sandbox Environment Home Flag Example

Application building

You can build out intranet applications and add content to them in your sandbox environment prior to making these apps live for your users. Here are some ideas of what you can build out beforehand:

  • Modify an existing App template, or build your own!
  • Create your folder structure
  • Upload files/publish content
  • Play with layout options to make finding content easier

Once you’re ready to push it live, simply move the app to a live page on your intranet where its new home will be located.


As you build out content behind the scenes, it is easy enough as an admin to add these links to your navigation menus. As the intranet reviews what users have access to, it will automatically hide links to any apps/pages/sites that regular users do not have access to. In the case of a sandbox idea, this works great as you can pre-populate the menus the way you want them to be with links to these locked items, and once they move to the new site, the links then update to match their new home.

With our Link interface, you have the ability to select the asset type of Site, App, or Page. Selecting the appropriate asset and choosing the item from the available list is a quick way of creating your links in preparation for going live!

Intranet Design Theme Changes

Many customers like to try out intranet design theme options prior to it being pushed live for their end-users. This allows them to see how the theme changes will look on their site before it goes live. We recommend building the theme on a sub-site rather than setting up a test intranet site on another server to try this out. While it is not possible to migrate themes between sites on the intranet, or between the test intranet server and the production, you can try out the theme on the sub-site without having to build out a new intranet for this purpose.

Have you ever worked in a sandbox environment? Share your experiences with me in the comments section.

The IT Guide

Discover the guide to a simple intranet and simple intranet management.

By Michelle Desmarais

Michelle Desmarais is a solutions expert at IC Thrive. With a background in quality assurance and product training, she is well-versed in making the technical sound easy. Working closely with clients on a daily basis to find solutions to their problems, she is the go-to person for practical advice on anything intranet and software-related.