Complete Guide: How to create a SharePoint intranet or document library

March 9, 2021

If you’ve been asked to set up a SharePoint document library for your organization, you might be wondering if it’s really the best option.

In this article, we’ll explain why a WordPress website with a document library is the perfect SharePoint alternative for many organizations. For starters, it’s much more cost-effective and easier to set up and customize. It also has everything that most organizations need from SharePoint.

A WordPress document library a great alternative to using SharePoint or tools like Google Drive, OneDrive, Workzone, or Box for Business. Some solutions, like Dropbox for Business, have known security concerns. This makes them less suitable options for organizations that want to keep their files and documents secure.

Create a document library
Install Document Library Pro today and start adding and sharing documents - the easy way!

If you already use WordPress for your main company website then you can easily add a document library (either publicly or privately). Alternatively, you can use WordPress to create a dedicated intranet site to host your document library.

Problems with SharePoint

SharePoint is enterprise-level software. This means that it can have huge setup costs as well as a recurring monthly cost for every user. It's not suitable for growing businesses that are looking for a cost-effective SharePoint document library alternative.

If you need SharePoint for your organization then the costs are unavoidable. However, if you just need a document library solution then SharePoint won’t be sustainable for you. Microsoft recommends that you should budget at least 8x the cost of the software itself for successful deployment. You can expect to pay a lot of money for expensive SharePoint consultants to implement customized solutions for your organization. You can't even change your mind later because your documents are hosted on SharePoint, and you lose everything if you cancel.

In contrast, you can use WordPress to set up a SharePoint document library alternative yourself, with no technical knowledge. You own your data and aren't tied into anything long-term. You can even hire a developer to do it for you for a fraction of the cost.

It’s also worth mentioning that SharePoint is proprietary software i.e. it’s not open source like WordPress. And, although SharePoint is flexible and all organizations use it differently, it’s nothing compared to WordPress.

Why a WordPress intranet with document library is the perfect SharePoint alternative

Document Library Pro circle cropped

Here, we’ll take a closer look at each of the main features on offer with SharePoint and how you can do the same (or better) with a WordPress-based SharePoint alternative.

WordPress

WordPress is the most popular content management system with a market share of nearly 40%. Needless to say, it’s huge just like SharePoint and Microsoft but in a less centralized, more democratic way.

Using WordPress, you can create a completely private intranet for your organization. And, if you already use WordPress for your main company website, you can add a private intranet area to your existing website without affecting public visitors.

WordPress is more like SharePoint Online than SharePoint Server or SharePoint Hybrid because it’s cloud-based and 100% online. The best part is that it doesn’t have any software for the end user to install. This ensures a frictionless user experience for your team and other users.

If you don’t already have a WordPress website, you can follow this tutorial to set up a basic website in a few steps.

Intranet

SharePoint is first and foremost an intranet. For those unfamiliar, an intranet is a private network that’s designed to support an organization’s employees enabling them to communicate and collaborate. Intranets serve a broad range of purposes for organizations depending on their objectives.

WordPress is the perfect solution for any intranet. You can use WordPress with Advanced Access Manager to get full control over who can access each part of your website and intranet.

Let’s step through some examples:

  • You can use WordPress for your main company website with a private intranet area for staff members. This is ideal because it keeps everything in one place. SharePoint, while keeping your intranet separate from your public company website.
  • Free plugins like Password Protected make it easy to create a 100% private intranet website with no public area.
  • You can create an intranet that has sub-sites or separate areas for individual departments or teams. One way to do this is by using the free User Role Editor plugin to create additional user roles and Advanced Access Manager to control which user roles can access each area of the intranet. Or, you can use WordPress multisite to create websites within websites.
  • As well as the SharePoint document library alternative that we’ll cover later in this guide, you can store any type of information to share with your organization. For example, you can create pages, internal blogs, forums, or a knowledge base. You could create a staff directory with contact details for each team member in your organization.

Document management system or document library

Organizations use a document management system or document library to store and share documents, either for public viewers, for internal use, or both. You can use WordPress with the Document Library Pro plugin to list unlimited documents.

Create a document library
Install Document Library Pro today and start adding and sharing documents - the easy way!

Let's take a look at the key features on offer with Document Library Pro.

Appearance and usability

Documents are listed in a table layout which makes it easy to see specific data about each one. This is much more user-friendly than the basic grid layout for documents in SharePoint. In addition to this, you have full control over which columns to include in the table. For example, you can include columns for data such as title, excerpt, author, modified date, file type, category, tags, and just about anything else you’d like.

Document library folders

The Document Library Pro plugin also offers lots of options to make it easy for users to navigate and find specific documents. You can list documents in:

  • One long table
  • Multiple tables
  • Automatically structured into collapsible folders based on their categories.

This is much more flexible than SharePoint’s grid-based document library layout.

Sort, filter, and search documents

The filter dropdowns make it easy for users to quickly find documents based on categories, tags, and any custom data you might have added. The Document Library Pro plugin also adds an instant AJAX-powered keyword search box above each list of documents.

Filter document library

Users can also click on any column in the document library to sort the documents by that data. For example, users can sort by the date columns to see the documents that were published or modified most recently.

Search document library

Supported formats

In addition to this, the plugin supports all document formats plus online content. Each document can link to a downloadable file, a page directly on the website, or a third-party URL. It also supports a variety of other media files such as audio and video.

Document library

The Document Library Pro plugin supports internal or external sharing of files and other content. Sharing can happen both within and outside the organization. By using the Document Library Pro plugin with Advanced Access Manager, you can easily choose which files are available for internal users only and which ones are available publicly.

If you use WordPress for your main company website, you can even have one document library or resource section in the public area and another in the private intranet area.

Collaboration system

If you’re looking to set up a SharePoint intranet alternative, you probably need a way to share information within the organization. WordPress offers many ways of doing this with multiple user roles.

You can even use it with the WP Sheet Editor plugin to allow specific users or user roles to edit information from the front end without having to access or go through the WordPress admin. This adds a handy 'Edit' button above or below your document library (which you can show/hide based on user role) so that people can easily edit documents.

Edit spreadsheet with WP frontend editor
Front end editing with WP Sheet Editor

Alternatively, allow users to submit documents to the library from the front end, without having to access the WordPress admin.

Access from any device, not just the office

With WordPress, you can create responsive websites that are accessible from any device. Setting up an intranet on WordPress means that users will be able to access it from any device, not just the office. They just need a web browser - no need to install any apps.

If you're creating a private intranet then the plugins mentioned above let you make the intranet site accessible to users outside the local network.

100% customizable

With a SharePoint document library, you have to hire a SharePoint developer to customize the user interface. With WordPress, you can install any of the thousands of off-the-shelf themes that are available. WordPress themes allow you to upload your company logo, customize the colors, modify typography, and much more.

Alternatively, you can create your own WordPress theme with a completely custom design.

100% scalable

A WordPress document library solution is 100% scalable and can grow with your organization without increasing your costs, unlike SharePoint. Proprietary software, like SharePoint, offers subscription-based pricing plans. You pay a recurring fee per user and, therefore, can’t predict future costs.

Set up your document library

Instead of using SharePoint, your organization might be better off using a SharePoint intranet or document library alternative. A great solution is using WordPress with the Document Library Pro plugin.

  • Easy to use - no technical skills or knowledge needed.
  • Cheap to set up, and easy for your team to manage.
  • Supports downloadable or online documents.
  • 100% flexible and customizable.
  • Love it or your money back!
Create a document library
Install Document Library Pro today and start adding and sharing documents - the easy way!

Ready to set up a SharePoint-like document library for your organization? Get Document Library Pro today!

2 Comments

  1. Fab
    August 27, 2021 Reply

    Hi Maria,
    Thank you for the knowledgeable information.
    I have an intranet site hosted inhouse, planning to hosted outside my office premises, this site should be access by only staff, it should not available to public, do you have any idea and tips how to do?

Please share your thoughts...

Your email address will not be published.