A lot of organizations need a private digital environment to post messages for their coworkers. Many of those organizations therefore choose to use an intranet. You can easily set up a fully functioning intranet using WordPress.
In this article we’ll show you how to create a private website with WordPress. This private website can then be used to post status updates and have discussions.
What is in an intranet and why use WordPress?
An intranet is an internal network for team members to share information with their peers. Usually an intranet lives on a local server. When you are hosting the same kind of environment in the cloud, this is mostly referred to as an extranet. An intranet or extranet is mostly used to have easy access to documentation and to have a central location for all communication within an organization.
While there are many tools out there that allow you to collaborate on projects, WordPress is a pretty good tool for this purpose. Even without any customization, WordPress already has a lot of the desired functionality “out of the box”: users can create pages, write posts and comment on each other’s posts. By using the right theme and extending WordPress with a few plugins, you can enhance your WordPress intranet even more.
You can set up:
- A shared calendar
- A private social network
- A company directory
- and much more
The advantage of using WordPress
The advantage of using WordPress is obvious: it’s free. A lot of the collaboration and intranet tools out there require a monthly fee per person. If you have a big time, the costs can quickly add up. WordPress on the other hand, offers most of the functionality out of the box. The only costs that you will have are hosting, a theme and some plugins. Themes and plugins are often free, so if you can find the right ones for your purposes, you may only have to pay for hosting.
How to set up a WordPress powered intranet for your team
First of all, you will either need to create a private network to host your WordPress website on. You can install WordPress locally on a Windows PC using WAMP or on a Mac by using MAMP.
If you prefer to have your intranet (or extranet) hosted in the cloud, buy a hosting package. If you already have hosting, I would suggest to create a subdomain. Later on in this article we will make sure that only you and your team can access it. After installing WordPress on the subdomain, we can continue to add some basic intranet or extranet features.
Adding functionality and features
There are a lot of plugins available for WordPress at no cost. Below I will list a few great plugins to get you started.
The All-In-One Intranet plugin (by Dan Lester) adds some basic intranet functionality to your WordPress website. One of them is privacy. The plugin allows you to make your entire WordPress website private by just checking a box. It will also warn you when any of your settings allow unauthorized users to register.
Another important feature that this plugin offers is the redirection of users after they log in. By default, when a user logs in, they will go to the WordPress admin panel. By setting up a “login redirect” you can make any page the default starting page for your logged in users.
All-In-One Intranet can be downloaded for free from the WordPress.org plugin repository.
Even though the All-In-One Intranet offers pretty much all of the basic functionality that you’re looking for in an intranet, we should also mention BuddyPress.
BuddyPress is a free WordPress plugin that helps you build a community website. BuddyPress includes user profiles, activity streams, user groups and much more. BuddyPress is very well maintained and is available in 34 languages. There are also lots of (free) extensions available for BuddyPress. It is fair to say that BuddyPress is one of the easiest ways to build a social network with WordPress.
Knowledge Base ($39)
Knowledge Base is a premium plugin that is available on CodeCanyon for $39. With this plugin, it is very easy to set up an online knowledge base for your team. The plugin has a lot of features that make it more than worth your 39 bucks. Features include drag & drop knowledge base posts, live search and breadcrumbs. There is a beautiful and well organized “main page” for your knowledge base and the plugin allows users to “like” or even “dislike” knowledge base posts.
Knowledge Base works with almost any WordPress theme, including the default (free) WordPress themes. Above you will find an example of the Knowledge Base plugin in the Twenty Sixteen theme. If you need a bit more, there is a theme called KnowledgePress. This theme offers a knowledge base layout on top of the plugin’s functionality.
Making your WordPress website private
If you are not using a plugin that blocks unauthorized visitors from accessing your website, you can use your .htaccess file to protect your website. The following code only allows traffic from IP address 188.8.131.52.
deny from all
allow from 184.108.40.206
If everyone in your team is working from the same building, this is a pretty easy way to restrict access for people outside of your network. However, if you have a large organization with a lot of people working in different locations, you should probably use a plugin like My Private Site. This plugin will only allow logged in users to see your website. The Maintenance plugin does the same once you enable “Maintenance Mode”. It even allows you to customize the homepage that is shown to users before logging in.