How to Use WordPress and Woffice to Build a Top-Notch Intranet/Extranet
We’ll see here how to build a complete Intranet/Extranet on WordPress within a couple of minutes. Let’s get started by having a look on why WordPress can do the job here. But also, what we need and finally, last but not least, how we’ll create it.
What an Intranet actually need?
According to our customers and the market that we’ve been carefully observing, any professional Intranet needs at least:
- Members directory, to see all the staff and to get quick information about any teammate in a few seconds.
- Member profile, with social network features like update, cover picture, avatar, files and so on.
- Member roles, with capabilities to manage privacy and permissions across all the app.
- Events calendar, to display the company’s events, annual leaves or even to synchronise it with your Google calendar.
- Blog, to share company’s news and updates with the ability to comment and react.
- Wiki, to help the teams to learn how to use the software and provide online documentation about any service or product. All organized with a search feature and hopefully a hierarchy.
Sounds like WordPress stuff.
Why picking WordPress is a good (the best) choice?
WordPress is just a blogging CMS, isn’t? No. By being used by more than 26% of all websites around the world, well that gives WordPress many advantages that not so many softwares can be proud of.
Let’s start with the obvious ones:
- WordPress is a self-hosted software, that ensures complete privacy for the company.
- WordPress can be installed in 3 steps within a couple of minutes by pretty much anyone.
- Almost all hosting companies can host WordPress because it runs on the most common technologies (PHP and MySQL)
- As being an open source project and such a huge CMS, WordPress coding’s standards are highly known among the developer’s community. Thus, it reduces the developing cost of any setup or custom work. Most of the themes and plugins rarely exceed $100.
- WordPress comes right out-of-the-box with many features that Intranets must have: blog articles (obviously), custom pages, user capabilities, security, pages, custom navigations.
That’s a good start but still doesn’t make an intranet. Because intranets are all about members and their interactions within this network. Hopefully, the WordPress community has already developed the right tool for that: BuddyPress. By only clicking the “Install” button, we’re making a big step forward. Our website is know a community site with extended profile, groups, members directory, activity and even private messaging.
So just with WordPress and BuddyPress, we have almost all our checklist checked. We’re still missing some very important points though. Like privacy, customization, wiki, events, projects.
Making the job easier with Woffice
Woffice is a WordPress theme built from scratch to create powerful Intranets. The main idea is to fit the gaps between WordPress and the Intranet world, using its ecosystem.
Okay, great but what will it actually add to my Intranet?
Whenever the Woffice theme is activated, few things will happen right away:
- Your site will be private by default, any unlogged visitor will be redirected to the login page. You can of course change that and also make certain pages public.
- Your staff will be able to register with your company’s email domain. But also, using social networks such as Facebook or Google is you wish to.
- You’ll have a nice drag & drop dashboard home page which is completely customizable through WordPress widgets page.
- You’ll find from the extensions page, the Project Extension, once enabled you’ll be able to create project for your team. Assign staff, manage tasks, attach files, add timelines, comments and links to third-part applications.
- You can enable the Wiki Extension that’ll add a complete wiki system to your Intranet with frontend edit, likes button, categories, hierarchy, search and useful notifications.
- You’ll have the possibility to let your user edit posts, projects, events or wiki articles for you or with you. You can even review them or accept them by default.
- Several plugins are installed whenever you set up Woffice: a files manager plugin, an events manager plugin, the Revolution Slider and a built-in drag & drop page builder.
- Also other extensions are available, they won’t be useful for everyone but you’ll find with the package the Woffice Poll Extension to create a poll at any time, the Woffice Members Map Extension to display all your staff on a pretty Google Map, the Woffice Birthdays Extension to display the next birthdays in your company and a few others.
I won’t go through all the features as through the 70+ updates in the last year, the list is pretty long but you can find an overview here: https://woffice.io/#features
The price is actually $75 and all the features, plugins and extensions are bundled for free in the package with the documentation. There is no premium option or extra subscription to pay.
The bad side of Woffice is it’ll take care of all the design part as a theme. So if you don’t like the design and the layout you won’t be able to use its feature using any other theme.
Building the Intranet from scratch
Now, it’s time to get started, we’ll go step by step assuming that you start from an empty directory having FTP and database accesses.
First, we need to install WordPress, I won’t go through all the process as it’s pretty easy and already detailed by hundreds of great articles (such as the wpbeginner tutorial or the tutorial from wp’s documentation). Basically, you just upload all the WordPress files to the server, rename wp-config-sample.php as wp-config.php, enter your database details in this file and once save, you’re good do go. Your host probably have a tool for this, you can also find great video tutorials about this on Youtube.
Secondly, you need to have a copy of the Woffice theme, no need to install any plugin before as they’ll be installed in one shot when it’ll be activated. You can get one from here. We’ve created a quick video to make it easier for you to follow (importing the demo will save us a lot of time here):
You can find detailed steps on the Woffice’s documentation: https://woffice.io/documentation/
You should now be able to customize any element such as your logo, font, images or any colour from the Appearance > Theme Settings tabs. Some screenshots about what you should expect:
All the content is really easy to create as everything is managed through the WordPress dashboard and its famous editor. The good point is that as it was designed in the first place for bloggers. The editor is very reach and when we add shortcode and a visual drag & drop page builder. That’s the perfect tool to create all your pages, projects, wikis in a matter of hours (you can also use builder templates to save time).
Enhancing your app with custom plugins
As of November 2016, there are more than 55 000 plugins available for WordPress. So you’ve some choice to enhance your new WordPress intranet. Five examples about how plugins can add great features to your new web application (all these plugins have been tested on Woffice):
- Visualizer (graphics): a free plugin to add any kind of graph to your Intranet. You can embed your graphics into widget so they can be displayed on your intranet dashboard. Also import .CSV files to create them in a painless way. Their documentation is also very good.
- Wise Chat (online chat): another free plugin to add a live chat widget to your dashboard. You can chat with all your members and also create channels. This plugin has many features (more than 50 options) and the support is very responsive. You can see it live on Woffice’s demo.
- WP Trello (Trello integration): even if this free plugin isn’t very famous at the moment, it provides an handy integration for Trello in WordPress. You can display any board and list on your pages or projects. There is an article about this plugin and Woffice here.
- Mass Messaging: another nice plugin to send messages to all your users in one shot. You can target by user role or group.
- Learndash (Online courses): You can provide online training and complete course with Learndash. Even if the license is private. It definitely worth it if you’re looking for an e-learning component in your intranet.
You can do so much more! ADP integration, galleries, Slack notifications, Forum, Company shop with WooCommerce.
Going one step further by changing the features through the files
As we’ve seen earlier, WordPress is like heaven for developers. Everything is properly documented, all functions have their own commented page and the community is powered by thousands of developers. Therefore, you’ll always find an answer to your technical question. Whether it’s on the WordPress Community forum or on Stackoverflow.
By using Woffice, you can extend its features really easily without being afraid of update your theme and site later as nothing won’t be overwritten. This is possible thanks to the Child Theme feature from WordPress. Woffice already comes with a built-in theme child so you can extend any function through woffice-child-theme/functions.php but also by using custom templates.
To conclude this article, we’ve seen that WordPress can now be used to suit any kind of Intranet or Extranet. It’s possible thanks to premium theme filling the features gaps for us. Also thanks to the thousands of plugins helping us to extend any feature. To make this Intranet, your intranet.
Even if I’ve only talked about Woffice here, please note that there are other few themes available that can be compared to Woffice but they have less features and are rarely updated. We’ve released a listing on our blog.