Marcy Kellar and I have been waving at each other in passing over the past year, but have never had time to slowdown and do a little work together. Last week at SharePoint Saturday Indianapolis, she delivered a well received presentation on the SharePoint UI. We're posting the slidedeck below, along with updated comments by Marcy to get you started. -- Mark
Make Your SharePoint Site More Intuitive -- Marcy Kellar
One of the indicators of a successful SharePoint implementation is high user adoption and conversion rates. Driving these metrics up is the goal of many a SharePoint team. One of the ways to do this is to make your site more intuitive.
First let’s note that a site design cannot be intuitive by itself. The design needs a user to intuit it. That’s a key factor in understanding success of a SharePoint site (or any website). Never forget how those “page hits” , “tasks” and “conversions” happen… users. The intuitiveness of any site is dependent on the user.
The only way to make a site more intuitive is to understand what your user already knows and to make your site behave in alignment with a user’s expectations
. Intuitive and highly-adopted sites were designed with a clear understanding of the user’s current knowledge and target knowledge (a well defined site objective and strategy)
SharePoint has trouble being intuitive just out of the box. And here are two reasons why:
1. Visual Design Flaw
: A flaw with SharePoint’s visual design is its inconsistency, i.e. the font and margins are not consistently implemented across the site. Thus, related information may look different.
Users cannot tap into their understanding of how the web works and have to have brief internal dialogues to make decisions about information. This cognitive involvement stops the flow of task and can lead to a negative experience.
- Another flaw is that the site objective and strategy is not well defined prior to implementation or development. The solution (i.e. Master Pages, page Layouts, etc) comes before the objectives and functional requirements are flushed out. This is probably because there are so many “gotchas” and technical considerations with SharePoint (at least with SharePoint 2007) that they often come first. This isn’t a great way to build a site intended for actual use. (see Jeff Croft’s article on Solutioneering
This session focuses on Issue 1, the Visual Presentation and Ease of Use of a SharePoint site or any website for that matter. General improvements in visual presentation and usability minimize the gap between current knowledge and targeted knowledge. That’s an intuitive website.
Without expensive user testing or user interviews, what can you do to improve the intuitiveness of your SharePoint site?
Realize that your users have been using the web for years. They have booked reservations, paid bills, read the news, blogged, watched movies, and tagged photos on the web. They understand search and navigation; they have a base understanding of web content and how to use it.
I presented the following slide deck during SharePoint Saturday Indianapolis. The session provided an overview of usability best practices and visual design principles to improve intuitiveness of a SharePoint site. The principles can be applied to any website.
I had a lot of response to the session and have been updating the deck with suggestions from audience members and additional references. Check it out and send any questions or suggested follow-up articles to me.
Author: Marcy Kellar
Marcy Kellar is the SharePoint Branding Lead for a national consulting company and specializes in architecting content management and branding solutions for medium to large organizations.
She has an extensive background in visual design, web content management, relational data modeling and psychology. Marcy has been advocating user centered implementation of SharePoint since 2006, working as a consultant, technical lead, and branding specialist.