SharePoint is great, but not everyone knows how best to use this formidable platform to build the system that they want. Take the humble Intranet.

SharePoint is possibly the best tool for the job on the market. Yet you wouldn't believe the number of poor, deserted or frankly unusable SharePoint Intranets I’ve seen over the years. How to build a good one? Well that would take a very long article indeed, but here are my three tips to set you on the right path.

1. Use SharePoint 2010

SharePoint 2013 will soon be available to all. It is shiny, new, comes with all kinds of cloud goodness, and is in all honesty a very good product.

But don’t use it. Not right now. Build your Intranet with SharePoint 2010. This version was released in May 2010, and received a service pack in June 2011. It is a stable platform, has been tested in the wild for a long time, and works. Yes their are some kinks, some limitations. But these are known and workarounds exist.

I’d wager there is nothing you need to achieve with your Intranet that SharePoint 2010 can’t handle. Notice the word need. You might want SharePoint 2013 and the extra goodies it brings (yes, "Apps" will most likely be very good once they bed in). 

But you don’t need it.

Let others test this latest version, or give it to your developers to play with for a year. Let the bugs get fixed, and give Microsoft a chance to round the edges off (e.g., add some proper Yammer integration).

Simply put, SharePoint 2010 is the best platform to start building your Intranet on. So use it.

2. Don’t Customize "Look and Feel"

I know, I know. You want your company logo in the top left of every page. And your company font is "Specially commissioned company font #949," which you want to use. I understand the links on your website are all pinky purple, so they should be the same on your Intranet. And the header should include a navigation that "communicates your brand."

You want your Intranet to be branded and pretty. I get it. But actually, none of that matters. Your Intranet is used by your own employees (that’s the "Intra" bit, folks). They know who they work for already. They have your logo on the pen they are holding, the mouse mat they are using or it is plastered on the walls above your "brand values words."