The Missing Link in SharePoint Site Usability


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Presented at SharePoint Saturday Chicago on November 2, 2013.

There's a huge disconnect between how usable Microsoft claims that SharePoint is, and how easy users perceive SharePoint to be. A website will only be as user-friendly as it has been designed to be, and SharePoint sites are no exception. Typical site owners are people in the business, many of whom have no previous experience with SharePoint and/or creating and managing a website. Organizations are essentially asking people to be webmasters of their SharePoint sites, without realizing what this entails or giving the proper training. This class will introduce basic usability concepts and offer some practical tips for keeping your site's users engaged. It will also highlight the responsibilities of a SharePoint site owner/administrator, including considerations for designing the site, setting up and maintaining the information architecture, permissions management, analyzing usage statistics, content facilitation, and more. If you are a SharePoint site owner, you don't want to miss this class!

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  • This is a great book on usability by Steve Krug. Quick, easy read. Doesn’t go into a lot of usability theory or other boring stuff. Just a lot of common sense things to make your site better.Don’t do anything out of the norm. E.g. Make buttons look like buttons; Don’t call your Search button Locate or Find; even though they’re similar terms, it still makes people stop and think; Don’t name your page title something totally different than the link name they clicked to get there
  • Primary navigation is sometimes referred to as Main navigation. It’s usually a horizontal navigation bar at the top of the site, but not always. SharePoint OOB does have the primary navigation as horizontal and is also referred to as the top link bar (non publishing site) or the global navigation (publishing site).Secondary links are also sometimes referred to as the sub navigation. It’s usually a vertical list of links on the left or right side of the page. SharePoint refers to these as the quick launch links (non publishing site) or the current navigation (publishing site).Utilities links include things such as login/logout, privacy policy, terms of use, edit my profile, etc.A lot of people these days rely on search to find what they want, so good websites need to have search functionality! The good news is that SharePoint has search built in.
  • Primary or global links should not change. Think of those as the aisles in a grocery store. Studies have shown that the maximum number of links a human can process are nine.Secondary links will be different depending where you’re at. Using our grocery store example, think of them as the items on the shelves.Navigation should be used not only to assist you in getting to where you want to go, but it should also tell you exactly where you’re at along the way. Just like those maps you find at rest areas when travelling.
  • Home page design is probably the hardest part about designing your site.“Above the fold” is a term that newspaper firms use to describe the content that appears at the top half of the front page of the newspaper, so that when it's folded, the most important stories are visible.  For web sites, "above the fold" loosely refers to the content that users see on the screen before they have to scroll down the page to see the rest of the content. 
  • Many people are tempted to put their team’s entire mission statement on the home page. Don’t do it!
  • All sites that I create, I design them so they’ll fit on a minimum screen size of 1024 x 768 without left/right scrolling.
  • Do you want users to leave your site? Do they have an easy way to get back to your site?
  • Let’s take a look at the navigation areas in SharePoint.For the most part, SharePoint does pretty good about following navigation and general usability rules IF the navigation is set up properly
  • Primary and secondary navigation get very high marks, but only as long as the user sets them up properly. If they are, then functionally the navigation works as expected. Breadcrumbs get a D because it’s not evident where they are on the page. You have to know exactly where they’re at, and then if you find them, they’re not in a format that typical breadcrumbs follow.Page titles are a little misleading as well, as they appear to be breadcrumbs but they’re not.Search is really good, as long as it’s turned on! An admin has to do this.And screen size compatibility gets a B because it can be a little tricky to work with sometimes to get everything to fit without left/right scrolling on smaller screen resolutions.
  • Keep your permissions simple; you don’t want to add several groups and permission levels, it will just make things complicated and become a maintenance nightmare.
  • Unlike the Field of Dreams…just because you’ve built it, doesn’t mean that users will use it.
  • Advertise your site as much as you can, in every avenue that you can. Where I work, believe it or not one of the best ways for something to get noticed is to post a flier in the bathroom right by the paper towel dispenser.
  • You always want to have fresh content on your home page, but make it easy on yourself to update. Use an announcements list, for example. Also very important: Someone needs to own this and make sure it gets done on a regular basis. You can populate the lists ahead of time and use a date field to determine when the content displays.
  • If you want someone to do something, you need to first do it yourself. I’ve seen a lot of IT departments who don’t even use SharePoint themselves, and then wonder why the business isn’t quick to move their content into SharePoint.
  • The Missing Link in SharePoint Site Usability

    1. 1. The Missing Link in SharePoint Site Usability Wendy Neal @SharePointWendy Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 1 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    2. 2.      @SharePointWendy  Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 2 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    3. 3.     Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 3 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    4. 4. Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 4 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    5. 5.  If you remember nothing else about usability, remember this rule! Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 5 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    6. 6.      Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 6 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
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    8. 8.    1. 2. 3.  Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 8 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    9. 9.   “Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.” – Steve Krug   Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 9 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    10. 10.     Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 10 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    11. 11.  Are you linking to… New Window Same Window A site other than yours? Someplace within your site? Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 11 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    12. 12.  Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 12 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    13. 13. Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 13 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    14. 14. Page Title Search Global Navigation Quick Launch Breadcrumbs Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago Utilities 14 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    15. 15. Element A B C D F Primary navigation Secondary navigation Breadcrumbs Page titles Search Screen size compatibility Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 15 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    16. 16.  Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 16 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    17. 17.       We are referring to these sites going forward (although people who design Intranet sites could benefit from this discussion as well) Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 17 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    18. 18. Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 18 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
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    22. 22.   Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 22 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    23. 23. Sub sites: Pages: • Hierarchical global navigation automatically cascades down • Global navigation hierarchy must be manually created     Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 23 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    24. 24.  Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 24 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    25. 25.      Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 25 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
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    35. 35. Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 35 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    36. 36.    Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 36 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    37. 37. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 37 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    38. 38.   Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 38 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013
    39. 39. Thanks to Our Sponsors! Twitter: @SPSChicago Hashtag #SPSChicago 39 | SharePoint Saturday Chicago 2013