How to Build a Better Intranet While you Migrate to SharePoint Online

by Yvonne Harris

Is now the right moment to migrate to SharePoint Online? And if you do make the move, how can you build a better intranet at the same time?

Migrating from SharePoint On-Premise to Online is not mandatory, but it is recommended, especially since the extended support that Microsoft offered for SharePoint 2013 ended in April 2023 making this version obsolete. If you’re currently based on SharePoint 2013, this end-of-life could be a big push towards finally making the move to the cloud.

What is the difference between SharePoint On-Premise and SharePoint Online?

Unsure whether your current intranet is on-premise or online? SharePoint On-Premise requires a company to physically run on-site hardware to access the program. While SharePoint Online is accessible from the cloud.

We dive into greater detail on why it’s time to retire your SharePoint On-Premise in this article.

How to migrate to SharePoint Online

If you have an on-prem SharePoint intranet and decide to migrate to SharePoint Online, there are a few important things to remember:

  • Migrating to SharePoint Online is a technical project you need to undertake with your technology partner or IT team using a SharePoint migration tool.
  • Your SharePoint migration project is separate from your intranet project.
  • As you migrate, you’ll likely also want to update your intranet and take advantage of all SharePoint Online offers.

One of the biggest considerations you may have in moving from on-prem to online is whether you need to move your intranet from classic SharePoint to modern.

Why move from classic to modern SharePoint as you migrate?

There are a few reasons why switching to SharePoint modern is a good idea alongside your migration project.

The modern experience in Microsoft SharePoint is designed to be compelling, customizable, flexible, and more performant. For example, the information architecture and hub sites in classic SharePoint are built using a hierarchical system of site collections, which also means that their navigation, permissions, and design will be inherited. In the modern SharePoint experience, the architecture is such that every site is a site collection and can be associated with a hub, making it a flat structure that can easily share navigation, branding, and other elements.

Other important benefits to consider when doing the switch are:

  • With the modern experience, the sites are easier to navigate.
  • Mobile device versions are dynamic, responsive, and look great no matter the device used.
  • Publishing sites have become communication sites which means that they are not only mobile friendly but, at the same time, they have become more engaging, dynamic, and beautiful.
  • The search box appears at the top of the page and includes other functionalities.
  • When it comes to sharing and permissions, the modern experience uses Microsoft 365 Groups which offers benefits such as group emails and a multitude of tools such as Planner, notebook, a group calendar, and a SharePoint team site. It also provides flexibility with group permissions.
  • Lastly, the page performance in modern is faster.

How to migrate pages from classic to modern

Once you have made the decision to migrate your intranet from SharePoint On-Premise to SharePoint Online, a question that may come up is how to migrate all your pages from classic to modern.

In native SharePoint, this is costly and time-consuming.

However, it is easy with a third-party intranet solution, like Powell Intranet.

The most popular choice among our customers is to create a hybrid environment, meaning that you can rebuild all your most-visited pages in modern while you can still keep the rest of your intranet in classic. In this case, Powell Intranet can help you manage and undertake this huge task.

Download our e-book and learn more about migrating intranet pages from classic to modern.

EN - Whitepaper : Building an Effective Intranet While Migrating to SharePoint Online

How to build a better intranet on SharePoint Online

However, traditional SharePoint Online intranets, even those built in the modern experience, can fall short of expectations.

For many Communications teams, it is important to have a customizable intranet that speaks to different users. Customizing a traditional SharePoint intranet is difficult.

In the case of SharePoint, whether classic or modern, it is also not engaging enough. It also does not allow audience targeting, making it difficult to speak to different users and results in information overload.

Another example is that the user experience in SharePoint focuses on the technical aspects rather than the business outcomes.

Searching and navigating the sites can become frustrating for employees, which would mean having to build customized pages, which in turn means that IT resources are needed. It could be timely and costly for a company.

As a result, a third-party intranet solution built on SharePoint is necessary to realize the full potential of SharePoint and customize it to the company’s needs.

How can a SharePoint intranet solution enhance the SharePoint modern experience?

A third-party intranet built on SharePoint can enhance the SharePoint modern experience. We’ll take the example of Powell Intranet.

Some of the benefits it adds are a use case-focused approach, personalized look and feel, better business orientation, and ease of scaling.  All this results in a high end-user adoption, with our customers enjoying monthly adoption rates of over 70%.

Use-case focused

The use case-focused aspect helps departments such as HR, Comms, and Marketing benefit from a broad scope of business use cases that advance and enhance employee engagement and productivity.

Personalized look & feel

The site’s look and feel can be customized to the organization’s needs thanks to all the different web parts offered.

Business oriented

Powell Intranet can provide more business-oriented features to add to your intranet to make the experience highly personalized.


Let’s not forget scalability, which is also a very important feature. IT teams appreciate being able to deploy several sites easily.

What does each department need from the intranet?

Communication teams

Comms Teams need their content to be consumed and engaged with by employees. To achieve that, the intranet needs good search and access to content options. It should be easy to navigate, so people can find what they are looking for, making the experience more pleasant. As a result, engagement will rise. Comms Managers also need to be able to target employees based on their job, location, and areas of interest.

HR teams

HR departments want to empower employees and encourage engagement through the intranet. One way to empower is to give employees access to the tools and materials they need to be able to do their job. Additionally, nowadays, with hybrid and remote working, it is important that employees have the ability to stay connected as they would when in the office. Providing Hot-Desk, Water Cooler, and gamification abilities, among others helps employees stay productive, engaged, and collaborative with each other.

IT Teams

When it comes to the IT department, security is a high priority.  IT managers want the security can Microsoft offers while benefiting from an intranet solution that is easy to maintain, reliable, and not as costly. Being able to deploy and update at scale is another important factor, especially for multilingual organizations. With a solution like Powell Intranet, the IT team can easily create templates without using code.

Deep dive: Explore all the features Powell Intranet can offer to every department in your company as you build your SharePoint Online intranet by downloading our free guide.

Which solution will be best for you and your organization?

Whether you decide to migrate SharePoint On-Premise to Online, from classic to modern experience, or both, there are a few important things to consider.

Remember that with an intranet solution built on SharePoint, like Powell Intranet, you’ll enjoy more flexibility as far as features, functions, and benefits that will allow higher employee participation and engagement. While SharePoint delivers the foundations of an intranet, Powell Intranet can deliver what your employees really need to tackle the future of work.

EN - Whitepaper : Building an Effective Intranet While Migrating to SharePoint Online

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