Transforming SharePoint into a powerful intranet: a Fresh Intranet FAQ

So, you’ve got out of the box SharePoint as part of your Microsoft 365 licence and want to use it as an intranet? Whilst it’s possible to do, will it give you the employee experience you’re looking for?

Yes, you can customise basic SharePoint Online.

You can create a comms site. Add news. Add global navigation. Add some Webparts. Then start to add the content. And off you go.

Simple. Right?

But have you thought about security and permissions? Where the content’s going to be stored? How can your people access it? And what about personalisation and targeting content? Governance and lifecycle management?

You, or someone in your IT team, may have some SharePoint skills, can do a bit of dev work, but do you really understand what your business needs? Have you done any consultation workshops with your stakeholders?

Successful configurations of SharePoint Online come with their own challenges. Anywhere from 12 to 24 months down the line, the once an easy solution and quick fix for your comms team has deteriorated into chaos, no one can find anything and everyone’s moaning about it.

We often meet clients at this stage.

There’s tension between what they want and what they can actually achieve with SharePoint, as David Bowman explains:

“Clients reach out when they’re trying to do more complicated things in SharePoint. Beyond basic navigation or news, when they want their own customisations and development work, they find that SharePoint falls short.”

Faced with business complexities; evolving requirements, volume of content, people in different countries, the need for a more sophisticated internal communication program and employee experience, SharePoint alone can’t quite deliver the goods.

“It’s unrealistic to think that SharePoint, with a few customisations done at minimal cost, can do it all for you. When you go down the customisation route, that’s when the request list racks up and it suddenly becomes very costly,” says David.

But that’s not where the challenges stop.

The moment that you need one customisation, you’ve opened the door to risk, ownership and management challenges.

What happens when Microsoft releases a new flexible layout for SharePoint? Or some new capability? Who is going to update your customised webpart and change the code? How will this change impact the business?

Enter Fresh.

What is Fresh?

Fresh is an enterprise-class solution that takes the best of SharePoint, supplementing and enhancing it with a strong set of intranet features right inside the Microsoft 365.

Built on Microsoft 365, SharePoint, Teams and Viva, Fresh Intranet runs on your own Microsoft environment, complying with your business requirements.

Launched back in 2015 by Advania UK, Fresh provides a seamless, inclusive and accessible intranet experience for users within Microsoft 365.

While Microsoft 365 licences are still required for all employees, Fresh closes the gap between the native SharePoint experience and that of third party hosted intranet solutions.

So, if you’ve a strong desire to align with Microsoft’s vision and want to minimise your IT risk, choose Fresh Intranet.

According to the 2024 ClearBox intranet report, Fresh is particularly appealing to organisations that have already invested in Microsoft 365. If your organisation is using Microsoft 365, Fresh could be a valuable choice to maximise your investment.

Why do I need Fresh as well as SharePoint?

As mentioned before, as good as SharePoint is, it can’t do it all for you. Especially if you want a slick intranet experience that keeps pace with the Microsoft roadmap.

Fresh extends and supports SharePoint.

  • Find content, documents and policies easily. Create hubs of related content with search, refiners and AI.
  • Connect and reward your people. Fresh’s ‘People’ functionality means your people can search, connect and reward each other at the click of a mouse.
  • Securely manage and monitor your intranet with Fresh’s governance and analytics. Review content and act on insights.

“Fresh offers a range of options to give communications professionals an enhanced experience on top of SharePoint, while most Microsoft functionality remains … so Fresh works with features like Viva Amplify and Viva Engage.” Clearbox Consulting 2024.

Why choose Fresh over SharePoint out of the box?

Still need convincing? Here are five reasons why you should choose Fresh over SharePoint out of the box for an intranet.

1. Always on support and upgrades: Benefit from continuous support, updates and improvements to keep your intranet up to date.

2. Aligned with Microsoft: We align our roadmap with Microsoft 365, surpassing feature parity and seamlessly integrating with its evolving technology trends. We manage the evergreen risk, so you don’t have to.

3. Optimised user experience and flexibility: Fresh adds an extra layer of flexibility and customisation to your intranet. Choose from more than 50 pre-built accessible SharePoint webparts and Viva Connections cards to build your intranet how you want to.

4. We live and breathe intranets: Fresh is built with real-world intranet scenarios in mind. We think of intranets not by feature but by application areas such as department, communications and people search so that we focus on problem solving over technical hurdles.

5. Budget friendly: Fresh allow you to keep all Microsoft 365 benefits in place while giving you the added cost-efficiency brought on by saving time, effort and risk in custom development as well as productivity gains.

Why choose Fresh over a custom-built intranet?

Once you’ve built your own custom-made intranet you will then need ongoing expertise to troubleshoot and enhance the system. Yet with Fresh, continuous support, updates and improvements comes as part of the package. We will keep your intranet up to date with Microsoft, leaving you and your team to focus on your core business activities.

As your intranet grows, so do the needs placed on it. Your custom-built intranet may struggle to keep pace with the ever-evolving needs of your business and Microsoft 365’s progress. With Fresh, you won’t have to worry about accessibility, user experience, new development models or AI trends, we’ll do all the thinking for you.

Creating a custom-built intranet involves planning, development and testing phases, which can significantly extend your project timeline and stretch your budget. In contrast, Fresh Intranet is ready to use, saving you months of deployment time, accelerating your time to value and productivity.

Why choose Fresh as a replacement for your Valo Intranet?

Valo Intranet ends support on July 31, 2025. This means that the current product you’re using is in ‘maintenance mode’, with no new features, enhancements or innovation. Worse to come, after July next year you’ll be left with an outdated and unmaintained solution that can pose security risks to your business.

So, why move to Fresh?

Simple. Fresh is built and designed, similarly to Valo, in your Microsoft 365 and Azure environments, with developed scripts that help speed up the Valo to Fresh migration steps, reducing project costs and easing the replacement process.

Fresh also employs members from the former Valo team, who know the product inside out – that’s knowledge of Valo’s business, product information architecture and technology.

Joining forces with many experienced Valo partners, those who you already trust, Fresh will ensure you have a smooth transition from Valo to Fresh.

What features does Fresh have?

Fresh features at-a-glance:

  • Manage your intranet from the Admin Portal – configure taxonomy structure, global navigation, footer and many intranet settings centrally.
  • Understand and control your intranet with Fresh’s analytics and governance features – find out how your content resonates with your intranet audience, including all page views and peak time views.
  • Add the power of artificial intelligence into your SharePoint intranet with FreshMind – making AI practical and accessible for every user.
  • Customise your SharePoint intranet to reflect your corporate branding – transform your SharePoint interface with customisable display settings, including display modes, styles, colour schemes, default image and focal point.
  • Support employee engagement and collaboration – access Viva Engage communities and conversation in your intranet via Viva Connections and SharePoint.
  • Connect to your Microsoft 365 and external data sources with advanced integrations – show information from within SharePoint using Search, Microsoft Graph, or external sources using REST API connections.
  • Create multiple intranet instances within your Microsoft 365 tenant with just one licence – giving each intranet its own navigation elements, theme, taxonomy and search.
  • Using Fresh’s multilingual feature for on-demand or manual translations of your content.
  • Reach every employee across your organisation with your news and communications – target content using SharePoint audience targeting and user profile properties.
  • Make the intranet personal for your employees – personalise intranet homepages to show information related to the signed-in user.
  • Create a consistent intranet search experience and navigation structure – with filters and customisation options to easily find information, documents and people.

What are the benefits of using Fresh with SharePoint?

There are many benefits to using Fresh with SharePoint including being able to launch an on-brand intranet that feels like a website quickly.

  • Publish targeted content that users want to read, time and time again.
  • Work with a solution that grows as your company does.
  • And create a one-stop-shop for company information, comms and Microsoft 365.

If that’s not enough, there are more benefits:

  • Built for Microsoft 365
  • AI functionality using Microsoft Azure OpenAI, with data hosted in your environment
  • Compliant with your security and accessibility standards
  • Always aligned with Microsoft, completing not competing
  • Backed by Advania Group

How secure is Fresh?

Fresh is designed for the Microsoft ecosystem, specifically SharePoint and Microsoft 365. All Fresh components run within your Microsoft environment. Subsequently, Fresh inherits and respects any Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure security configurations such as access policies and permission levels, making it a reliable and secure intranet solution.

How does Fresh Intranet integrate with Microsoft 365?

Fresh Intranet seamlessly integrates with Microsoft 365, enhancing the SharePoint experience by adding a layer of customization and user-friendly design. This integration allows organizations to leverage their existing Microsoft 365 tools and infrastructure, including Teams, OneDrive, and more, creating a unified digital workplace. The platform facilitates easy access to company news, collaboration tools, and business-critical information, all within a cohesive and intuitive user interface.

Who is Fresh Intranet for?

Fresh Intranet is specifically designed for high-growth organizations that find traditional enterprise intranet solutions too cumbersome or misaligned with their dynamic needs. It’s ideal for companies seeking to quickly deploy a robust intranet solution that can scale with their growth, adding new teams, offices, and functionalities as needed. Fresh Intranet serves a variety of sectors, including businesses that want to improve internal communications, collaboration, and access to company resources, all within the familiar environment of Microsoft 365.

Which companies use Fresh?

Fresh is trusted by many leading brands globally. We are happy to count KPMG, TD Bank, NHS, Brewin Dolphin, M&G, and many more as our clients. Read our client stories for more in-depth understanding of how Fresh is being used.

How much does Fresh cost?

Fresh is a subscription-based product with pricing determined by the size of your organisation. Fresh Intranet provides a powerful intranet solution without the hefty investment often required by traditional enterprise solutions, making it an attractive option for dynamic, growing companies.


Find out more about Fresh Intranet by booking a demo today.