MoMa, The Met, and Corporate Intranets

A love letter to design, museums, and company intranets: how Haystack draws inspiration from white walls to revolutionize corporate intranets.

The concept of an intranet is not new. Here at Haystack, we often say that 99% of the Fortune 500 companies has an intranet and 99% of their employees hate using it. It's a concept that dates back to the 90s. The power of a successful intranet — keyword there, successful — is immeasurable. When done correctly, an intranet can galvanize culture, streamline internal communications, house important resources, and make knowledge more accessible. The problem with intranets today is, quite honestly, that they suck. They are slow, clunky, and just flat-out not fun to use.

Nearly five years ago, Haystack set out to change that. Under the banner of making big companies feel smaller, we're driven to provide consumer-grade intranets that connect your company’s tools, teams, news, and knowledge. We believe engagement is everything - and engagement is driven by design. A well designed product, chalked full of consumer grade delight and state of the art search is the difference between a low-engaging, stale corporate intranet and a lively cloud HQ.

As we began working with hundreds of world-class companies around the globe, we gained a new perspective on the power of brand in the intranet space. For a provider like Haystack, brand plays a significant role during the sales process. Design conscious companies looking for an intranet often evaluate a vendor’s brand as a reflection of their overall product experience and emphasis on the design.

However, once a vendor is chosen, the implementation begins, and the launch is within sight - it becomes clear that a product like Haystack merely serves as a blank canvas for customers to project their own brand and identity upon. Intranets are rare in that sense - there are very few pieces of software that exist in a company’s toolkit that are fully branded as their own. Once these Cloud HQs launch, brands like Haystack fade into the background - replaced by your company colors and culture.

Galleries and the Anti-Brand

Haystack is a design centric team - with deep experience building world class consumer products like Snapchat & Google. When lacking inspiration - a quick trip to LACMA or the Met will most certainly recharge the creative spirit and leave you artistically energized. I personally have equally been fascinated by the brands behind these institutions as the artwork they celebrate.

Branding a museum is no small feat - while establishing a unique identity is crucial - a slight misdirection could dramatically clash with the artists work they work so hard to celebrate.Places like MoMa, The Met, LACMA, and more do an amazing job of crafting unique identities for themselves - while existing in perfect harmony with the works they exhibit. Drawing inspiration from these institutions felt like the perfect pallet to build upon. The parallels between what they are and what Haystack is striving to be, is a perfect fit.

As you wander the halls of these iconic venues, every piece of art is accompanied by clear, concise, and legible text - providing easy to understand context for whatever it is you’re looking at. Museums are accessible - to every enthusiast, young or old. Museums are cultural hubs - ways to celebrate and reflect upon period of time - from modern to medieval. Museums are places that encourage focus - large, spacious venues that when accompanied with the unspoken rule of silence, make mindfulness effortless. All of which are elements we are inspired by when building product.

In an ideal world - products like Haystack should become white walls for customers to paint with their unique identities. We’re here to celebrate that - from law firms to farms, non-profits to hospitals - we wanted to create a brand and product that leaves your coworkers wondering “Who the heck built this internally?”

Personalized and Consumer Brand

Two decades ago, enterprise software was strictly utility. No pleasantries, just the essentials needed to enhance work life efficiency. As the development of high-quality products became easier and more accessible, the distinction between consumer-grade products and enterprise software started to blur. Icons of the industry, such as Slack and Notion, have demonstrated that success in both the consumer and enterprise realms requires embracing consumer-grade design and delightful product experiences.

Specifically, in the intranet space, the standard has historically been low. We, as designers and developers, feel it is our responsibility to challenge this status quo and introduce a consumer-grade experience into a product that many companies around the world use begrudgingly every day.

Now, after collaborating with hundreds of customers worldwide across various industries, we've realized that a one-size-fits-all approach does not suffice—this rings especially true in the intranet space, where the need for a customer’s brand to prominently stand out is evident. With the launch of Haystack 2.0, we are thrilled to pioneer the future of personalized design in enterprise software. This marks the introduction of an array of design features and customizations, enabling organizations to adapt all aspects of our user interface to mirror their brand like never before. From colors to fonts, border radii, and many elements in between, we at Haystack believe that the prosperous future of enterprise software lies in being not only of consumer grade but also effortlessly adaptable to echo a company’s culture and brand.

When evaluating intranet solutions, focus on features that align with your business objectives, such as advanced search capabilities, integration with existing software, and robust security measures. Additionally, a mobile-responsive design is crucial for supporting a flexible and remote workforce, ensuring employees can access information anytime, anywhere. These features not only enhance productivity but also play a significant role in calculating the long-term ROI of your intranet investment.

Investing in an intranet goes beyond the initial purchase price. Consider the total cost of ownership, including setup, customization, training, and maintenance fees. Opt for a vendor that offers comprehensive support and training services to ensure a smooth implementation process and minimize potential disruptions to your operations. Furthermore, a vendor that provides analytics tools can help you measure the intranet’s impact on productivity and employee engagement, allowing you to continuously optimize for better ROI.

Ultimately, the success of an intranet in delivering a high ROI hinges on its adoption by your workforce. Prioritize ease of use and ensure the intranet is designed with the end-user in mind. Engage employees in the selection process, and invest in ongoing training to foster a culture that embraces digital transformation. By doing so, you can maximize the benefits of your intranet, turning it into a powerful asset that drives business growth and operational efficiency.

When evaluating intranet solutions, focus on features that align with your business objectives, such as advanced search capabilities, integration with existing software, and robust security measures.

Closing Thoughts

You may read this and think we’re grandiose, aspirational or flat-out intranet obsessed - but every Haystacker has experienced the magic software like this can provide. Despite being around for 5 years, we’re still in the early days of perfecting every pixel, digesting every feedback survey, and plotting out whats next.

I write this fully well aware of the numerous providers in our space - all with their own set of unique features and intricacies. We all have feature lists a mile long, and great teams behind us - navigating under relatively similar missions. Its important to think not where a product stands today - but where will they be in the years to come. And more importantly, how urgently, precisely and frequently they are building along the way.

If you are looking for a product and company that fundamentally questions every thing an intranet could and can be - and releases product employees actually love to use - consider this your sign that you have found the needle in the Haystack.