Building an intranet in Microsoft 365


Introduction

This article describes how to build an Intranet in Microsoft 365 using SharePoint.

Instructions

Intranets have been used by organizations for a few decades now to share information and business-related content, such as corporate news, announcements, events, etc., with their employees.  It is also a place where managers and corporate leaders can gather information from their employees about the corporate culture and process improvements. In the last few years, new tools have become available to create Intranets quickly and effectively. 

Building an Intranet with Microsoft 365 starts with a site, a single location where members can go to interact with the Intranet content. The site is not required to have an internet presence or use a browser to access, but it does have to be easily accessible to all members requiring access. For the purposes of this build guide, we will assume the primary access will be through a browser. SharePoint Online (SPO) remains the core tool for building out an intranet site in Microsoft 365.  However, Microsoft has made significant improvements to how you interact with SPO to accomplish your intranet goals.   

Creating an Intranet

Create a Communication Site

Microsoft 365 provides a method to create an Intranet with an internet presence through a SharePoint Communication Site. With Communication Sites, you can embed other Microsoft 365 application elements such as calendars, documents, slides, and forms to build a rich Intranet site. To create a Communication Site,

  1. Login to http://my.office365.vt.edu/ using your Virginia Tech username and password.
  2. Follow the on-screen instructions for 2-factor authentication.
  3. Click the SharePoint icon.



  4. In the upper left of your SharePoint home screen, click on the + Create site button.



  5. Choose the format option labeled Communication Site.



  6. In the field labeled Site name, type a concise site name.



  7. (Optional) Add a site description in the field labeled Site description.



  8. Click the Finish button.



Store Content

When you embed content, you want to embed content stored as a site asset and not individually owned content. SharePoint Online makes this easy by provisioning site assets folders. To view the contents of your site, click on the Site contents menu item beneath your site name. You should store all your published material in this location for easy access and permission control.



Add Content

You want your intranet to be the single source for information related to your organization or group. It should be a place where information is available for the benefit of all employees within the organization (such as the news, announcements, events, policies, etc.).

Your new Communication Site already contains some sections where you can post information. It contains a News, Events, Quick Links, and Documents section. To add an item to News and Events, click on the + Add sign beneath the section title then fill out your information as appropriate. To add a static version of files for employee reference (such as policies, annual strategic plans, or similar published documents), import them to the Documents folder in the Site Contents, they will automatically show up in your Documents section.



Collect Feedback

Intranet sites should be more than just repositories of information. It should enable an organization to both gather and share information. For example, you should use your intranet to collect feedback from the organization (such as a survey or a corporate social feed). This can be done using the Comments section that is embedded at the bottom of every page. Here users of the site can comment on the information and people will be immediately notified of the comment for replying and other actions.

If you want additional information, let’s say registration for an event, you can embed forms. To embed a form on a registration page,

  1. Create a new page:

    1. Click on the + New button at the top of the Home page.



    2. Select Page.



    3. Choose your layout from the from the provided templates (This example uses the Blank template).



    4. Click Create page located at the bottom right of the window.

    5. Name your page appropriately.



    6. Change the text to be a description of the event.



  2. Add a form:
    1. Beneath your text section, hover in the middle of the screen till you see a blue ‘+’ sign for Adding a new web part.



    2. Scroll down and click Microsoft Forms. You may also use the Search bar to locate this item.



    3. To add a new Form:
      1. Click New form.



      2. Name your form.



      3. Click Create.



      4. On the new form, click + Add new.



      5. Create your form using the options shown.



    4. To add an existing form:
      1. Click Add existing form.



      2. Follow the on-screen instructions to add the existing form.

    5. Click Publish when you are done.



  3. Highlight page:
    1. Go to the Home Page by clicking Home.



    2. Click on the ‘pencil’ icon next to the Edit menu item.



    3. Click on the ‘pencil’ item in one of the tiles to edit one of the tiles grids (you may need to click on the tile before the option appears.



    4. Change the title and image to better reflect your event.








    5. Click the Change button to change the link.



    6. Choose your newly created registration page.



    7. Click Publish when you are done.



Recognizing or Highlighting Content

If you want to recognize a team member for a significant contribution as part of the organization’s recognition program, you can easily do that through Quick Links. Quick Links are a default section of the Communication Site that allows you to quickly add links to external content. To add a quick link,

  1. Click on the ‘pencil’ icon next to the Edit menu item.



  2. Click on the + Add links button under Quick Links.



  3. Choose From a link.



  4. Enter your link information.



  5. Click Open.



  6. Click Publish (or Republish if your page has been published previously).



Publishing Organization Calendars

An event may or may not be on the organization calendar. Conversely, everything on the calendar may not need to be a highlighted event. SharePoint provides a Calendar web part to allow an organization to publish their calendar. The calendar published belongs to an Microsoft 365 Group. To publish your organization’s calendar,

  1. If your website is already published, go to the Home Page and click on the ‘pencil’ icon next to the Edit menu item.



  2. Hover in the middle of the screen where you want the top of your calendar to show till you see a blue ‘+’ sign for Adding a new web part.

  3. Click the + sign.



  4. Browse to Group Calendar.



  5. Click the Add group calendar button.



  6. Browse to the appropriate group and adjust settings as needed.



  7. When you are satisfied, click Publish (or Republish if your page has been published previously).