What makes a great intranet for churches? The answer is deceptively easy. A great intranet helps church staff solve problems quickly and efficiently. By designing a great intranet, you highlight the many tasks and applications at your staff's disposal. Plus your volunteer and paid workforce will see you are willing to invest in them and not just your ministries. This article delves into five area of focus to create a great church intranet.
First you need to research your needs. If you have an existing intranet site, gather analytics. Any amount of data will be helpful. If you do not have an intranet, or any analytics, create questionnaires. Ask people to fill them out based on a week's worth of self-analysis. What tasks to they most often find themselves doing. Where will a link to an app, or faster access to information help? Are they checking social media responses? Links to all your digital spaces may help. Are they constantly routing phone calls to other staff? A redesigned directory will help. Regardless, determine what your people are doing so you can best serve their needs.
Focus on Tasks
The primary way places organize their intranets is by ministries. While this may be a great first layer of navigation, quickly move to tasks. You may duplicate some content or links, as tasks may be common to many staff members. All hourly employees regardless of ministry need links to time sheets. It is far too easy to just recreate how you organize your church. Hopefully your research will show you what tasks are most common to everyone.
Speaking of tasks, talking to someone else is quite common. Easily finding contact information of staff and volunteer members is essential. This is especially true of multi-site churches, where you may not have regular contact with other members. If you are a denominational church, contact information for those in your synod or diocese is essential. You never know when a question that requires their wisdom will pop up. Fast access to their contact information will get you the answers you need. Searching and browsing for a person should be quick and easy.
Take the most popular destinations and put them right on the home page. An example I will provide is from an intranet project I worked on for the US government. It turns out the most popular pages on the entire intranet was the weather forecast and the daily special in the cafeteria. So while management may want to focus on work, your staff may want other information at first glance. Realize that this may appear as a waste of time. Yet if your staff is able to get that information at a glance, they can move on to doing their "real work" sooner.
Website creation, regardless of the customer, is an iterative process. You should not set it and forget it. Regular updates is the key to avoiding a several month redesign project. Identify an owner of your intranet. If at all possible, this should not be the person responsible for your public facing website. Your public website brings in new members and donations. Social media generates outside interaction. These will always get more attention. Your intranet is viewed as something that can save you money, but never generate it. By separating the responsibility, you are acknowledging they need different levels of attention. A secretary or office manager would make a great leader for this project. While they are not marketing and user experience gurus, they know the most common daily tasks of your entire staff.
First off, do not ignore your intranet pages because they are not customer-facing. They will not increase your congregational size. But they will enable your staff to be more productive and effective. Determine which of the above areas you need to focus on. Then develop a plan to iteratively create or update your intranet. Soon you will have a tool to better connect and serve those that serve your church.
Note: I wrote this in response to the overwhelming traffic to my previous article on the need for a church intranet. After two years, it still receives regular traffic. Thus I felt the need to expand on the topic further.
Photo courtesy of Jakub Krechowicz