Organizations may find themselves in a situation where a redesign of their intranet is desperately needed. However, for budgetary reasons, migrating to a new version of SharePoint or hiring a third party to assist with the redesign may be out of the question. In this article we are going to take a look at a few things that can be done to clean up and refresh an existing intranet. This article will focus mostly on content, but if your SharePoint environment is on premise, it may be helpful to do a health check on the performance of your environment and look into options for improvement there as well.
Take an Inventory
The first, and most important, step is to understand what content is out there. How can you organize your intranet if you don't know what's on it. Especially if you are working with an intranet that has been in use for several years, there could be a large amount of content, or even entire sites, that are no longer needed. Take a full inventory of your intranet. This includes pulling all sites, subsites, lists, and libraries into an Excel spreadsheet or Visio and taking note of what can be deleted or archived.
Creating this inventory could be done manually, but there are much quicker options for pulling this information with PowerShell. This script for example allows you to pull a CSV file with all site content, timer job definitions, and even Content Types. Permissions can be a bit harder to inventory without a third party tool, but it is still important to get a solid idea of where broken permissions exist. It is also important to meet with the teams that own each site, when working through this process. This is a great opportunity, not only to clean up their sites, but also to get their buy-in on any changes you are trying to implement.
Turn Folders into Metadata
After you have taken the time to sit down and inventory the sites, lists, and libraries, you should have an idea of how documents are being organized. If there are deep folder structures in the libraries and little to no metadata, this may be another area for improvement. Metadata can be added to a library at any time. Adding as few as two to three metadata columns can be extremely beneficial to users. This metadata can then be used to create views on that library to make finding document much simpler for users. If you are working with SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013, simple improvements can also be made to search using metadata.
No folder views can be added to assist with tagging. Users can also utilize the Datasheet or Quick Edit options to quickly tag documents in a worksheet format. A PowerShell script can even be used to permanently delete folders, once they are no longer needed. If PowerShell isn’t an option, the library could be synced to a user’s desktop, and folders can be manually cleaned up and deleted. An intranet with no folders is a usible and clean intranet.
Clean Up the Home Page
Do we really still need to see the Open Enrollment announcement from 2014? Cleaning up and updating the home page will go a long way in giving the intranet a refreshed look. Is the page inundated with text links? Replace those with small icons that match your overall look & feel. Metro Studio is a free and easy to use tool for creating metro-style icons. Survey users about what they actually click on, and try to cut down on anything extra. After going through the inventory mentioned above, there should also be a lot to clean up in the site’s navigation. It might be necessary to categorize the navigation differently and remove anything that is no longer in use. There are additional things that can be done to update the look and feel of the home page, but just taking these few steps should give usage a boost until you are ready to upgrade to a new version.
Sometimes a good cleaning is all your intranet needs, but if you find that these steps aren't enough to get your intranet it good working order, try discussing your issues with a consultant.