However you choose to define and measure employee experience (EX), it’s accepted that technologies with appealing user experiences (UX) are a key factor in creating a positive EX. As a critical digital workplace tool, a well-designed intranet homepage gives employees an experience that connects them seamlessly to colleagues, information, and the organization – all of which helps to improve EX.


Employee experience is defined as the sum of perceptions that employees form from the interactions they have with an organization – from recruitment onwards. To ensure employees have a positive experience, organizations need to optimize communications and technologies so that work is engaging, enjoyable, and productive. Best practice intranet design ideas support this through good homepage UX that makes these interactions easier and more rewarding.

Employee experience in different industries

Employee experience is a universal concept that has gained ground in recent years. As a result of the ascendence of a Millennial workforce and increased digital interconnectedness for all, workplaces now have a broader focus than just company culture or employee engagement. 

By using technology to merge—and often automate—everything from onboarding experiences to employee satisfaction surveys, companies are now curating HR, comms, and operational interactions into an integrated, holistic experience. This is where the design of digital workplace tools such as intranet software comes in. Through advanced design principles that allow users to accomplish tasks easily on a branded platform that ‘feels’ familiar, technologies can smooth EX into one continuum. 

While the concept may be a universal one though, organizations and industries have vastly different experiences. This is due to the different skillsets, backgrounds, tech competencies, tasks, structures, and locations that companies and individuals all bring. Each workforce needs different things to make them productive and happy. To an extent then, the best UX must take account of the difference between industries and design their interfaces around specific needs. 

So, what intranet design ideas should you employ to create homepages that improve employee experience in these industries? We take a look at five sectors with very different needs.

Intranet design ideas for retail

Retail organizations face several unique challenges because a high proportion of retailer workforces are dispersed and non-desk based. Whether they’re in stores or working in the supply chain, without immediate access to a computer or the time to check and respond to emails, workers may feel disconnected from head office and organizational decisions.

The 2021 award-winning intranet storybook

Discover intranet design ideas from some of 2021’s best platforms

However, these same team members are crucial for ensuring business continuity and delivering a great customer experience. Engaging these workers and ensuring they have the right tools and information to connect them to the organization is critical. 

An effective retail company intranet homepage, especially one including a mobile app for multichannel communications, may feature some of the following:

  • Company news featured prominently in the top homepage banner. This connects users to the organization. Content tailored to region, store, or seniority level may also feature to engage through personalization. 
  • Quicklinks to in-demand applications or information for frontline staff, including rotas, payroll, and HR information. 
  • A task-driven design with easy access to workflow and forms for tasks such as ordering supplies or booking leave. This can smooth the EX for time-crunched employees. 
  • A newsfeed featuring real-time updates and a social element for the intranet. These features help dispersed employees to connect. The use of @mentioning can bring individuals into the conversation and make them feel seen and valued.
US retailer Mattress Firm has an intranet homepage design that employs a time-saving, objective-driven menu.

Intranet design ideas for nonprofits and charities

Working in the nonprofit sector can be a highly rewarding experience for employees and volunteers alike. 

It can also be challenging, however, because budgets are tight and the subject matter may be emotive. Additionally, the sector has many voluntary, part-time, and frontline workers who may connect differently with the organization than paid, full-time teammates. 

Our experience working in the sector has taught us that there are a number of critical goals that nonprofits often wish to accomplish with their intranet platforms: 1. Ensure that staff connect with the mission and purpose of the organization, 2. Have the ability to share stories and best practices, 3. Enable compliance with regulatory demands. 

The 2021 award-winning intranet storybook

Discover intranet design ideas from some of 2021’s best platforms

Nonprofits may accomplish engaging intranet homepage design with: 

  • A hero banner that shares stories. These help to inspire employees by promoting positive outcomes and successes. 
  • Quicklinks to documents, policies, and governance information. Another aspect of a good employee experience is always having easy access to pertinent information. Providing this through prominent UX features signals where users should go. 
  • Rewards applications relying on peer-to-peer recognition improve morale and engagement. Receiving rewards for their commitment shows individuals that their contributions are valued.
  • Employee-generated content such as blogs can empower staff and volunteers to share stories and experiences. This can help improve the employee experience of readers and writers alike as knowledge and tips are frequently shared.

Intranet design ideas for healthcare providers

The healthcare sector faces significant challenges when it comes to employee experience. In addition to the traditional pressures endured by healthcare professionals (shortage of time, stress, long hours, and limited resources), the pandemic has created even greater anxiety. 

Many healthcare organizations also have diverse workforces with varying needs and access to technology. This impacts their employee experience, their ability to access internal communications, and their emotional connection to the organization. Administrative staff, clinicians, and community carers all have very different needs and digital workplace tools should reflect this. 

Healthcare providers can use design productively: 

  • A pulse survey tool with simple questions for frontline staff. This continually gauges morale and employee engagement without the need for long employee surveys. 
  • A task-led design, with links to essential systems such as HR and IT Service Desk. If the intranet is configured as an identity provider, staff can use single sign-on to log in once and access all systems. This saves time for users and IT. 
  • Clickable shortcuts to content areas can highlight important campaigns and seasonal changes (such as a Covid-19 info area) in a way that easily signposts critical information. 
  • A My Forums shortcut facilitates easy access to areas where staff can share knowledge and ask for help outside their departmental silos. 

 

Piedmont Healthcare makes a homepage feature from key mandatory reads.

Intranet design ideas for media and entertainment firms

For those working in creative industries such as entertainment, design, or publishing, text-heavy intranets loaded with stale looking content and out of date documents are never going to animate and engage employees. 

Enhancing the employee experience within the creative sector often means speaking in a language staff are most receptive to. This may include creative UX touches or strong copywriting, and almost always the development of a powerful internal brand that connects users with content and colleagues. 

What do advanced intranet designs look like for media companies? 

The 2021 award-winning intranet storybook

Discover intranet design ideas from some of 2021’s best platforms
  • A homepage hero banner creates impact by using the entire space ‘above the fold’. This draws users in and directs them to relevant content. 
  • A prominent newsfeed allows employees to share real-time updates about the creative projects they’re working on. Tools that @mention people, content, and teams also facilitate better communication and peer recognition.  
  • Icon-led quick links signpost the way to frequently visited content and resources. 
  • Rich-content page sections feature video campaign or images. This brings mixed content types to the homepage for maximum engagement and a minimization of text-heavy content.
A customized media homepage allows organizations to brand their intranet in line with internal design guidelines.

Intranet design ideas for financial services companies

Compliance requirements, global offices, and continual market fluctuations are some of the typical challenges facing financial services providers. 

It is a top priority to keep staff informed against this backdrop of change. In this scenario, it’s important that looks don’t trump functionality and that homepage design should serve the needs of users first and foremost. 

This doesn’t mean reverting to text-heavy, boring homepages though. Sacrificing the user experience by adding every section to a top menu can make pages look crowded and result in a lack of adoption and a worse employee experience. It’s a careful balancing act, but smart UX can help. 

  • Use of modular content boxes ‘above the fold’ serves to push key news or comms to users as soon as they open the homepage. This ensures employees stay updated and connected. 
  • Compliance documents that users are required to read and acknowledge can be highlighted through mandatory read functionality. Analytics can report on employee compliance for these key reads. 
  • Quick links to third-party apps allow users to rapidly navigate to critical parts of the wider business suite. 
  • Embedded web widgets can pull external content through to the intranet. For finance companies this might include at-a-glance dashboards displaying real-time financial market data or currency exchange rates.
Intranet homepage design for financial services providers must balance key information with engaging content.

Create intranet homepages that suit your organization and employees

While the number of options available for your intranet design may feel overwhelming, it’s worth spending time to get initial decisions right and then to develop over time. Fortunately, one beneficial feature of a low/no-code software like a CMS intranet is that design can be altered without having to rely on substantial input from IT. 

Investing the time to develop an employee-centric intranet design can improve the long-term adoption of your platform and improve employee experience across your organization.