Intranet - Getting Started


What is an Intranet?

An Intranet is information that is available to authenticated users only and not the general public. Content on an intranet may include departmental policy documents, etc.

Thinking about creating an intranet?

Below are some questions to think about when it comes to creating an intranet.

Who is your audience? 

Identify who will benefit from the intranet content.

  1. Your audience drives the feature set that you select, information that you highlight, and brand. 
  2. Your audience helps to determine permissions. For example, are there others from outside of ISU that will need to login? If so, development is more complicated if you select a solution using the campus shibboleth authentication system.

Why are you creating an intranet? 

It sounds funny, but sometimes the answer to this question is unclear and there may not really be a need for an intranet. The popularity of an intranet comes and goes as fast as a fashion trend. When there is good reason to develop an intranet, it stands the test of time.

What content will be on the intranet? 

Usually there are several individuals responsible for creating content for an intranet. It’s best to start with an organized list of specific information that should be on the intranet. 

Best practice recommends intranet content be stored on a private server and public content on a public server. In order to retain the highest security, private intranet content may link to public website content, but public website content should not link to link private information (intranet or password protected) information. In other words, if there is an internal department document on your department’s intranet, it’s best not to link to that private document from your department’s public website. Remember, that if the content is public information, it can be and probably should be part of your public website and linked to from your intranet. Sometimes a spreadsheet can help identify what content is public or private.

What is the most important content to highlight on your intranet? 

Once a list of all content for the intranet has been created. You can determine the top 5 to 10 items to highlight on the front area of your intranet. What kinds of information does your audience need most often? 

What software should you use as a solution for your intranet? 

Let’s think about this for a minute. It’s true, when starting out, most people expect a website is the solution for their intranet. And it could be. But much of the time, it doesn’t have to be.

Third party solutions can have some great benefits! For example, Iowa State University has a contract with called CyBox. CyBox already comes with encryption and the ability to have multiple editors on documents and even create Box notes for quick communication efforts and projects. There is support to sync the content to one’s desktop. It’s very easy to share content with ISU co-workers and outside affiliates. It’s available instantly. 

When building a website, there is a need to hire developers to build the site and incorporate the encryption requirements from the ground up. This can be costly and time consuming. Also, there is ongoing server maintenance to consider. It can be quite expensive. And it may not allow for things like the ability for multiple people to edit a document at the same time.

If you would like to walk through any of these steps or discuss solutions, whether they be a website or something like CyBox, please email We would be happy to work with you.