Building An Intranet For Dummies – A Step By Step Guide

Building An Intranet For Dummies - A Step by Step Guide intranetHeadI was recently tasked with building a Intranet site for my day job. They had looked to outsource the work at first and then came back to me as the $20,000 to $50,000 quotes were not too enticing to them. I decided to look for an open source solution.

I tried many solutions that did one thing and not another. Then I finally settled on one platform that seemed to be pretty open and it had great support via forums. That solution is Joomla.

Joomla is billed as the dynamic portal engine and content management system. It is in other words a multi-purpose CMS that can be molded to do your bidding. Taty recently covered 10 extensions for Joomla here.

j1So the first thing you need to do is go grab a pen and paper (or your laptop) and go speak to the person in charge of HR. If you are looking to build an Intranet for yourself you should then consult with yourself.

Write down a list of what you want the Intranet to be able to do. What it needs to contain, not contain and how you want to achieve it.

Here is my “building an intranet for dummies” list:

  • Have menu options for each department that will be accessing the site.
  • It needs to be hosted offsite.
  • Have a place to download documents, images and other information.
  • Have a place for administrators to be able to upload those documents.
  • Be password protected so only registered users can access our data.
  • Be able to have administrators publish articles for users to see.
  • Show directions to our site.

This seemed like a pretty straight forward list – right? What else could I need? Well you will find out as you go along. Next we need to either download or install Joomla to our webhost. Many webhosts have automatic processes for installing Joomla.

Joomla gets installed just like WordPress. I use a host that has it and all I had to do was click on that and then locate Joomla.

building an intranet for dummies

Joomla 1.5 is the latest and greatest version and as you can see, all you need to do is select it and then click on New Installation.

building an intranet for dummies

But if you do not have that option you can download Joomla here and follow the directions in the package. After downloading Joomla we will want to customize the template, add extensions or modules that do what we want it to do and then we will spice it up!

After the installation is complete you will have the URL it was set up with. By adding /administrator to the end of the URL we can get to the administrator console like so:

building an intranet for dummies

Type in the username and password for your admin account and then you will be logged in and see this:

building an intranet site

The first thing you will want to do is choose a template. Google for Free Joomla Templates and you will find a lot. Pick one and download it or pick a bunch and download them.

Then you will click on Extensions – install/uninstall to get the templates installed. Then you will find them under Extensions – Template Manager as you see below:

building an intranet site

I found and installed one called rhuk_milkyway. It is released under GPL so you can freely modify anything in it!

building an intranet site

Next up we will go and find some extensions to add more functionality to your Joomla installation. I added  JEvents and Remositrory.

Jevents allows you to set up events and a calendar to show when corporate events are taking place. Remositrory allows you to add file repositories that designated people will be allowed to upload and download.

You can go through the menu manager and edit the existing menus to display what you want. If you are decent in PHP you really can change anything in your Joomla installation. When I was finished with all my modifications this is what I had: (logo and other identifying information removed for confidentiality.)


Have you ever built your own intranet? If so, what software have you used? Please let us know in the comments.

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