I started to work with SharePoint in 2012 and quickly learned the powerful features and the potential of the platform. As a consultant, I was able create solutions in SharePoint for all kinds of requirements and processes, but there was one thing that bothered me: user experience in the context of an intranet. The interface was so complex and crowded with bells and whistles, that customizing usability and look & feel for intranet users and publishers required a high investment in development and design. (My colleague Tom discusses the pros and cons of custom-built intranet platforms in another blog post.)
In 2018, I started working with intranet-in-a-box platforms such as Valo, opening a new world of possibilities for my clients who prioritize quick implementation and easy user adoption. With its latest release launched recently, this is the perfect time to look at the reasons that make Valo the most popular ready-to-go intranet platform for SharePoint.
Impress your organization with an appetizing banner, dynamic news feeds and beautiful buttons that link to the most important business tools. Oh, and don't worry: it’s not just the homepage that is attractive. Actually all of your intranet pages will be!
An appealing intranet requires content, and content needs authors. If you want to ensure the long-term involvement of your content authors in an active intranet, you need to make their lives as simple as possible. With Valo, authors can add new pages or edit existing ones with a single click!
Before, just by thinking about a multilingual SharePoint site, I would break into a cold sweat. But not anymore: Valo Modern makes it easier than ever to have a multilingual intranet that is easily manageable by the content authors. Besides adding translated content manually, you can also use the built-in machine translation tool to generate automatic text translations. This means that you can have your translated page ready for review in another language, in just a few seconds!
One of the core functions of an intranet is keeping people informed in the organization. Nowadays, SharePoint offers good-looking possibilities to display news, but Valo goes even further. Valo Modern lets you categorize news so you can target each content to different user groups. And there are also dedicated tools to inform the audience about events, new team members, birthdays, etc., which visually highlight the most important elements of each announcement type.
Those of you who are used to work with the platform may recognize how confusing it can get to navigate a large SharePoint structure. A vertical menu on the left side of pages, a horizontal menu on top of the pages, and recently, Microsoft even added a second horizontal navigation layer for hub sites. Users get easily get lost in a tangle of navigation choices shown in a standard SharePoint intranet. Valo Modern solves this with a personalizable mega menu that gives users a complete overview of the intranet at a glance.
Ever wondered how to get relevant insights from your SharePoint intranet? Valo offers an analytics dashboard that combines information on intranet pages’ traffic and usage, such as the most popular pages and sought-after topics. If you need more refined metrics, Valo also offers support for Google Analytics.
More and more organizations like to have some sort of social interaction on their intranet. Valo Modern has social features options that you can activate per page or across the platform to allow users to like and comment on pages, news and other content. You can also embed your organization’s social feeds (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others) as intranet content to facilitate employee engagement with your posts and amplify their reach within their personal networks.
An intranet should inform the audience about uncritical facts through news and other feeds. But what about an urgent message? Valo adds alert functionality to your intranet. If the coffee machine is broken, alert your colleagues first thing in the morning when they open their workplace and warn them to get their share of caffeine at some other place. These alerts can even pop up as push alerts in the Valo mobile app.
The Valo ready-made intranet package is aligned with the Microsoft’s roadmap for SharePoint and Office 365, so it’s always ready for new evolutions in these ecosystems. The Valo codebase runs outside of SharePoint: in Azure and in the user’s browser. As a result, it scales from small businesses to large enterprises while at the same time being extensible and customizable.
Alexander Ernon is ECM Business Consultant at AMPLEXOR. Alexander has over 13 years’ experience in business analysis, software consulting and project management, specializing in SharePoint and Office 365.