Historic Environment Scotland Intranet

A new Intranet to meet organisational and user needs

The Challenge

Historic Environment Scotland is the lead public body established to investigate, care for and promote Scotland's historic environment. It employs more than 1,500 staff across Scotland. 

Storm ID was commissioned to design, develop and deliver a new Intranet, using SharePoint Online, and which would integrate tightly with Office 365 capabilities. It would replace the existing WordPress Intranet, an interim in-house solution that had served its original purpose.

While content was published regularly to the Intranet, and it was positioned as a primary channel for internal communications, it did not deliver the required functionality or information for a digital workplace solution. Consequently, much of the content was dated and usage was relatively low.

The new Intranet would be required to better meet organisational and user needs, providing the foundation for a new digital workplace, supporting information dissemination, knowledge sharing and communication.

The Objectives

  • Powerful metadata model

    To aid governance and discoverability of content a robust metadata model would need to be defined, implemented and insofar as possible, enforced. A defined taxonomy would be used for all content with additional metadata fields available on a per content type basis. 
  • User profile service

    By default, every user within Office 365 has a User Profile. The User Profile Service would be used to import additional user information from Active Directory which would contain all or most of the information held in People Directory, including job titles, phone numbers, locations and other relevant profile information. 
  • Support for multiple content types

    With diverse content requirements identified, a diverse suite of complementary content types would be needed to be created to ensure coherence in user journeys, which in turn would support task completion. Content types identified for delivery included powerful search results views, landing pages, listers, articles, document records and signposts as well as guides.
  • Content planning and migration

    It was recognised that content would be key to the successful adoption and ongoing usage of the Intranet and that it would be essential to engage with HES teams early on. Content planning and migration tasks would run for the duration of the development project, including use of tools like Gather Content and Tree Jack to help with content creation and development of the information architecture (IA) through user testing.
Two tablet devices, showing two pages from the intranet

The Insight

The intranet had to be designed around an array of organisational and user needs identified through workshops and stakeholder engagement sessions.

To test the new Intranet, a beta ran alongside the existing system and was available to all HES staff. A basic form was made available to capture anonymous feedback for the duration of the beta.

This yielded useful insights which enabled improvements to be made to structure, content and the search experience ahead of live release. 

Key Features

Sharepoint environment

Use of SharePoint Online, accessible to any authenticated HES user from any location (inside and outside the corporate network) and on any authorised device. 

Information governance

Use of native SharePoint publishing functionality including:

  • Version control
  • Check-In / Check-Out
  • Approval
  • Version History
  • Permissions based visibility of content


Google Analytics were required to understand Intranet usage, inform continuous improvement decisions and to assist with ongoing content management. This would allow HES to identify the frequency and popularity of the content.

The Process

Publishing workflow

  • Implementing custom requirements for content publishing to support the content management model, including content approval using SharePoint standard approval workflows.

UX and Content Design

  • Understanding of organisational and user needs.
  • Defining content model and iterating the information architecture, taxonomy and content types based on user feedback from beta.
  • Custom theme with application of HES branding.
  • Accessibility reviews, including for custom web parts compliance.

Cutover planning

  • Reviewing and planning the individual activities required to launch the full replacement Intranet.

Training and handover

  • Live release trainer training sessions with the primary HES team, enabling skills transfer to support the wider HES team and to support the partially devolved content management model.
A mobile device showing a news article, layered over a tablet device displaying a landing page

Get in Touch

If you need to empower your internal teams with collaboration tools, get in touch and we can discuss your requirements.