A microsite, as the name suggests, is a small website, covering a specific topic of interest. Companies often set them up to promote a specific initiative or offering. Although microsites are often public-facing, there’s a growing trend for internally restricted microsites aimed at a company’s employees or authorised partners. That’s what we’re going to cover in this course.
As we’ve settled into new patterns of working, we’ve seen an increasing need for new channels for managing and sharing company knowledge. With less of an opportunity for people to informally ‘shout up’ or grab a coffee and dive into a huddle space to share this information, organisations are finding that it’s harder for it to organically spread to new starters or those taking on additional responsibilities.
Collaborative tools like Teams have taken off and filled in some of the void that’s been left from the lack of face-to-face contact, providing a semi-formal online space for employees to get in touch through group chat, instant messaging and screen-sharing. There are also features like Wiki and Notebook that can be used to document and share knowledge. However, we’ve been finding that some companies want to augment this style of communication with a more authoritative source of information that can be used as a learning tool and for ongoing reference.
What kind of knowledge are we talking about?
This will vary from organisation to organisation, but these are the kinds of topics that are suitable for being covered in a Microsite:
- New starter induction guide
- Production process workflow overview
- Procedure guides
- Master Data Management
- Customer service standards
- HR process guides, e.g. appraisal process
If you already have an established company intranet, you might wonder whether this type of site should be built as part of it. What we have been seeing is that organisations who have taken out Microsoft 365 (Office 365) subscriptions for email or desktop Office licencing have started exploring the other features available through the platform. This leads to the question of whether the existing Intranet should be migrated to SharePoint Online. However, this is likely to be a large project, and so starting with a microsite is a great way to evaluate SharePoint Online as a potential new intranet platform. The microsite might eventually be incorporated into such an intranet, whilst retaining its own identity and ownership.
Establish the project team
Once you have identified the topic for your microsite, you need to establish the project team. This should be centred around those who are closest to the information you want to share, along with members of the IT team who have got permission to oversee the creation of the microsite and manage security.
The project team should meet and agree the following:
- The strategic objectives for the microsite
- What topics are to be included
- Who is going to own the Microsite, and who are the content creators and editors
- How are you going to make sure that the content is kept up to date?
- Beyond web pages, documents, simple forms, images and videos, is there any other functionality that is needed? Can we postpone any such functionality to a follow-up phase?
- What will the microsite be called, and what URL will it have? (This will be in the form https://companyname.sharepoint/sites/MyMicrosite, where the last part can be configured as you wish)
To make the microsite easily navigable for users, you will also want to start thinking about the navigation structure. What should users see when they land on the microsite, so they can find the content they are looking for?