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How to Design an Intranet Your Employees Will Use

by Oliver Jaeger | insiderPROFILES

April 1, 2012

The success of an employee intranet environment greatly depends on user acceptance. If the user interface of the intranet’s content management system (CMS) is unwelcoming or difficult to maneuver, the company’s editors may abandon it and employees may lose interest in the site. Because of this, many companies are turning to e-Spirit’s FirstSpirit CMS.

Companies that implement an employee intranet often do so with the goal of reaping the workflow, collaboration, and employee self-service benefits that such a tool can bring. However, the success of this intranet environment depends heavily on user acceptance.

Unfortunately, for many companies, the user interface (UI) of the intranet’s content management system (CMS) is difficult to use or lacks personalization and integration options that could make the solution more user friendly. And without engaged CMS editors, the company’s websites and intranets often end up outdated and stagnant, driving end users away. What companies need is a more user-friendly, easy-to-use CMS that will enable their editors to efficiently add content to the company’s intranet. With a more dynamic, engaging, easy-to-navigate intranet, user acceptance and use is sure to grow.

Grow Your Intranet User Base

SAP customers can substitute Web Page Composer with e-Spirit’s FirstSpirit CMS, which, through an SAP-certified business package, can also integrate seamlessly with SAP NetWeaver Portal, combining the comprehensive content management functions of the FirstSpirit CMS with SAP NetWeaver Portal’s extensive infrastructure. This integration means that users can post and edit content to portal sites and also redefine portal navigations to suit their needs.

e-Spirit’s goal is to improve the CMS experience and speed up the process of using it — thereby enabling businesses to save both time and money. This goes for all users, from casual and occasional users to more advanced administrators. While Web Page Composer was designed with administrators in mind, FirstSpirit opens the CMS functionality up to a much broader user base. e-Spirit has even created two clients for its CMS; one is an editor for power users and the other is a web-based client for occasional users. Matching CMS functionality with the user’s level of experience encourages employees to add content to intranet sites, promoting communication throughout the enterprise.

Optimize Performance

The FirstSpirit business package for SAP customers supports different architecture and infrastructure models, enabling, the architectural separation of the portal server and page delivery server to help optimize performance. In this case, the portal server solely undertakes the generation of the navigation controls, while the content pages are delivered via an external web or application server. This leads to a significant relief of the portal server, speeding up the intranet no matter how many users are requesting information at the same time.

A Best-of-Breed Approach with FirstSpirit as a Content Integration Platform

When implementing solutions from most vendors, companies are often forced to buy and install all of the options the vendor offers, whether they want these features or not (basically, a rip-and-replace strategy). e-Spirit, however, takes a best-of-breed approach, providing core CMS functionalities and allowing companies to pick and choose the web applications, portals, and e-commerce solutions they would like to implement. This way, the FirstSpirit CMS acts as a content integration platform, which can be customized to fit companies’ needs regardless of size or industry. This method also ensures the CMS’s compatibility with solutions companies might implement in the future.

For example, the FirstSpirit AppCenter lets companies easily integrate any existing or new web applications into the CMS UI to enhance the user experience and increase employee productivity since employees will no longer have to switch among various applications to create or edit websites or portals. Once a web application — like an online image library — is integrated into the system, an editor can use the app directly in the CMS client instead of in a separate browser, for example, to find exactly the picture that is needed and drag and drop the image directly into the FirstSpirit CMS. This drag-and-drop feature not only carries over the full-size image, but also the metadata, categories, keywords, and copyrights, reducing the work for back-end editors. This also aids in making more attractive websites for end users through integration of analytics tools for optimization and video integration or recommendation engines.

Learn More

As companies continue to uncover the cost benefits and communication advantages of intranets and portals, improved usability on both the front end and back end will become an even bigger priority. Selecting the right CMS for the business can provide a unique competitive advantage. To learn more about e-Spirit’s FirstSpirit CMS and its integration capabilities, visit

Oliver Jaeger

Oliver Jaeger, Vice President, Global Marketing and Communications, e-Spirit, has more than 15 years of marketing and product management experience in startup and Fortune 500 companies in both the US and Germany. Since 2009, he has been responsible for global e-Spirit marketing strategy and management.

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