Okay, I said earlier, in part 3, that Search represents the most significant change to information architecture design in forever. I still stand by that statement but one of the most transformative elements of modern Intranets is a new approach to SharePoint customizations. It used to be your I.T. department would tweak the Intranet to include anything from tailor font styles to omelet making apps. But administrators and business managers became reluctant to implement these customizations because they made upgrades and maintenance cumbersome and weren’t focused on productivity.
So far I have touched upon two vital principles of intranet success: Governance and Information Architecture. Continuing onto Part 3, I will discuss the importance of search capabilities.
Search is that crazy cousin of Information Architecture. Related but not really a descendant or a sibling. It also represents the most significant change in Intranet design since Intranets became a thing.
It should be no surprise that Microsoft is pushing OneDrive for Business as the central location for users to store their documents. As a part of Office 365, OneDrive for Business lets you update and share files in the cloud. The benefit is obvious, you can always access your files no matter where you are. Storing your files in the cloud, replaces the threat of losing your files if something happened to your file system on your computer.
So, you're driving down an eight lane highway headed east and you see off in the distance an eight lane highway heading north and south. Without a bridge, an off-ramp, or any signs, things could get messy. Hopefully, engineers considered how many people need to change direction at that intersection, and came up with a clear way to communicate to drivers how to reach their destination. I'm hoping you see a parallel with intranet design & planning.
Documenting SharePoint deployment and/or customization projects can be even more of a hassle than documenting a standard software development project. Gasp! Did I just say documentation was a hassle? Yes I did, and it is. Therefore, let’s make sure our documentation serves a purpose and brings value to the equation.
Tell Me about SharePoint – What Is It Again?
SharePoint is a Microsoft client-server software product, which makes it more involved to use than one of their client products like Microsoft Word. However, you can leave the server details to Microsoft and use SharePoint as easily as Microsoft Word by signing up for Office 365 online. Unlike Word, SharePoint does not have a desktop version and is only accessible through a browser or mobile device. This blog will help you understand SharePoint from a user’s perspective and leave you on solid ground next time one your friends asks “what is SharePoint again?”…
Managed navigation or structural navigation? Google ‘Managed’ and ‘Structural’ and look at the definitions. Manage is to be in charge of. There’s your answer. If you want flexible navigation that’s easy to manipulate and directs users to the content they need quickly, you should start researching managed navigation. Structural navigation will provide your users with a rigid path that mimics your data structure, which can work in some cases; however, most users want a fluid experience that is logical and gets them their content quickly and easily. This often fails to align well with the data structure, especially when related data is scattered amongst various sites.
SharePoint is awesome! You know that in your heart of hearts, but you also know SharePoint is not fancy. If you want fancy, you have to take what Microsoft gives you out-of-the-box and then add your own bells and whistles. But wait, they don’t have to be your own! Someone else has probably already developed that cheerful bell or happy whistle you need. It may even be shared as open source. I usually start by looking for free stuff, but time is money so I am also willing to pay for functionality that will save me the time it takes to create it myself. If Real Estate is all about location location location; then SharePoint customization is all about reuse reuse reuse.
You've probably heard this comparison a thousand times, but SharePoint Display Templates are just like Shakira. Here's why:
How much time do you spend every day just sending emails to employees and managers?
Forget about your actual job requirements for a minute, and just think about the time you spend pushing communications out. I’ll bet you’ve had days where almost nothing on your “to-do list” got done because you were too busy fighting a losing battle with your inbox. I’ve been there. It’s not fun.
SharePoint allows you create a framework where employees and managers can access information on their own, regardless of their individual needs.
Here are a few examples of how you can use it make your job easier.