SPS Jersey 2014 - Creating a Great User Experience in SharePoint
Building solutions in SharePoint isn’t simply about getting the functionality right based on the business requirements. Developers must think about the entire user experience (UX), which goes far beyond the technical aspects of the solution. It’s no longer good enough to meet the specifications. We must exceed them in terms of usability. This takes many developers out of their comfort zones and into the messy world of end users.
In this interactive session, we’ll discuss questions like:
* How should the user feel when they use this piece of functionality?
* Will they perceive that this functionality saves them work or creates new work?
* How will the functionality compare to what they see on the consumer Web?
* How can we use technologies which haven’t historically been considered mainstream SharePoint developer tools (like jQuery and CSS) to make SharePoint feel more like the sites people love?
Whether you're an executive sponsor, end user, power user, developer, or IT Pro, there are bound to be some takeaways for you as you adapt SharePoint to meet your organization's needs.
• Building solutions in SharePoint isn’t simply about
getting the functionality right based on the
• Developers and designers must think about the
entire user experience.
• How should the user feel when they use this piece of functionality?
• Will they see it as saving them work or creating new work?
• How will it compare to what they see on the consumer Web?
• We’ll look at good and bad examples from
SharePoint itself, as well as specific
Forrester Report on SharePoint Adoption
“Dissatisfaction is centered on several areas,
including adoption challenges, a dislike for
the SharePoint user experience, a
preference for other tools like email and
skepticism over its business value.”
“Business management’s dissatisfaction with
SharePoint and perception of its value is hurt
by uninspired user experiences.
Microsoft SharePoint faces a challenging future: Forrester | PCWorld
SharePoint Adoption Faces Three Barriers: Mobile, Social, Cloud
What’s the Solution?
• Use SharePoint as an out-of-box application whenever
possible - We designed the new SharePoint UI to be clean,
simple and fast and work great out-of-box. We encourage
you not to modify it which could add complexity,
performance and upgradeability and to focus your
energy on working with users and groups to understand
how to use SharePoint to improve productivity and
collaboration and identifying and promoting best
practices in your organization.
Microsoft Doesn't Advise You Customize SharePoint 2013
What Is “User Experience”?
User experience (UX or UE) involves a person's
emotions about using a particular product,
system or service. User experience highlights
the experiential, affective, meaningful and
valuable aspects of human-computer
interaction and product ownership.
How does the user feel when they are
finished with using SharePoint?
“User experience” from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_experience
• The consumer Web is both a
source of inspiration and an
anathema for enterprise
• Our users expect no less than
what they see on Facebook,
Dropbox, Google, etc.
• It’s an expectations problem
Image from The Conversation Prism http://www.theconversationprism.com/
Form vs. Function
The Form v Function Ratio by Dan Antion http://www.aiim.org/community/blogs/expert/The-Form-v-Function-Ratio
A sound Information Architecture provides:
• Simpler maintenance
• One version of the truth
• Content Types
• Managed metadata
• List-based Site Columns
Image from “Explain IA Poster” http://userallusion.com/blog/2010/10/explain-ia-poster/
Be the User
• Don’t think about what
SharePoint does or how it
does it. Think about what
your users want.
• Too many developers
eschew SharePoint as a
collaboration tool. Use what
• If it’s too slow or cumbersome
to you, guess what? It’s worse
for your users.
• Sit with your users
• Listen to what they are asking for
• Repeat what they want
• Iterate, iterate, iterate
• Lather, rinse, repeat – It’s never “done”
• Agile with a small “a” – roll with the punches
• Don’t expect your users to
understand all functionality
• Training can’t cover everything –
• Be an internal consultant
• “How can I help you to solve your
Don’t Talk About Budget (Too Much)
• Your end users don’t care about
• Figure out how to help them
• Look for quick wins – they can help
fund the big changes
• Decide if the workloads SharePoint
supports are important enough
• Find executive support
Ramesh Sitaraman, a
computer science professor
at UMass Amherst, examined
the viewing habits of 6.7
million Internet users in a
study released in 2012. How
long were subjects willing to
Do you think that’s gotten any longer?
Boston Globe, February 02, 2013: Instant gratification is making us perpetually impatient ow.ly/i8Pth
• Views should show the
amount of information
required to make
decisions, no more
• Carefully balance server
side and client side code
• Large images can kill the
Lowest Common Denominator
• Know your user base
• Available RAM
“It works on my machine”
doesn’t cut it.
Image from NetMarketShare – timeframe = Q1 2014
Mind the Fold
• If users have to scroll every time
they land on a page, you’ve put
things in the wrong place
• Eyes scan from upper left to
lower right, much as a TV
“paints” the screen
Image 2: F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content http://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-
Use Real Estate Wisely
• Decide on your design aesthetic
• Few dense pages vs. many
• Graphics vs. text
• Color vs. monochrome
• Pet Peeve: Executive images or
• Please, please, please
NEVER: “Contact your
• Correlation IDs – Good
for SharePoint Online
• Tell the user:
• What happened?
• What did I do to make it
• How can I fix it?
• Remove the developer
from the equation
• List-Based Settings vs.
• Give users control – it’s
• Focus on important
Additional Thoughts and
• Consistency to a fault - Don’t
be constrained by what
SharePoint gives you
• Yet, you’ve bought a box,
don’t stray too far out of it
• Name it – it’s not SharePoint
• Visual cues – not just text
It always comes back to “It Depends”