The SharePoint Designer

Brand. Design. Amaze.

Nov 29

When planning a SharePoint site from a look and feel point of view

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Over the past couple of months I have been asked to take SharePoint sites “and makes them look like normal sites”, and in other cases I have been asked to “work with the base layout of SharePoint”. So here are a few questions I had to ask the clients and myself before even putting mouse to canvas.

  • Are you going to allow anonymous access?
  • Do you want the quick launch bar, the top navigation bar, or both?
  • High Graphics, Low Graphics – who are you looking to engage with?
  • What kind of libraries, lists, document formats do you want to work with on the site?
  • Are you sure SharePoint is the Platform you want?

Yes, I know, the last question made you raise an eyebrow and go “What is she on about?” But work with me here and you will see.

Are you going to allow anonymous access?

Do you want anonymous users to access the site? The answer can changed your branding a bit – In one case, I was using a lovely little CEWP (Content Editor Web Part) with some JQuery to show different quotes and background images, that related to the company. The site went into Testing, on an outside connection (no network or VPN access) and the anonymous users got asked to log in, and log in and log in because of this little CEWP. So take into account that the way you show your lists, your webparts and such might have a limitation on your design and branding when you throw anonymous users into the mix.

This also includes the on going question of “Do I show the ribbon for anonymous users” – Some times it works for you and other times it doesn’t.

Do you want the quick launch bar, the top navigation bar, or both?

When a designers does Mock Ups (Usually flat images that show the graphics and layout of the site), we love to play with the navigation, Hell some of us make circle navigation bars. So when it comes to SharePoint we have three options to look at and it is very important to tie this in with what kind of content is going to be shown on the site. If you are just working with flat CEWP’s and some pictures, do you really need the quick launch bar, (or you really need SharePoint??) or are you going to be using lists, and libraries and need “quick” click access?

High Graphics, Low Graphics – who are you looking to engage with?

Who is your target market? If this is an intranet site that people will be going to 10 – 15 times a day, my suggestion would be not to throw flashing rainbows at them. External facing company websites should impress, inform and entice the people viewing it. It is the online entrance to the company, and you want people to come in. But for an intranet you want something that is soothing, quick loading, and non intrusive. The last thing you want to hear is “please load this document on the intranet for me, I got eye burn last time”. So when it comes to graphics, colour combinations and such, get a opinions, do workshops, find out what the people want and if you hit the mark, or even close to it, you will have happy people.

What kind of libraries, lists, document formats do you want to work with on the site?

This is a blog spot on its’ own. I am still learning what can be done in SharePoint, and every day I am still amazed. Do research as to the business, needs, wants, workflows of the people who will be using the site. If it is an Human Resources department you will need secure libraries, content type set ups and much more. So plan for your audience, and plan for the business (or plan for the way they do business). SharePoint is suppose to help, not hinder.

Are you sure SharePoint is the Platform you want?

A question i always have to ask, as much as I adore SharePoint – for a 5 page static site – is it the platform to use? I could whip that up in 4 hours, and have it live in 5. If you are not going to even tip your toe into the vast possibility pool of SharePoint for a site, then rather go classic (HTML and CSS) It is Faster and cheaper and will give the same effect. But if you need that CMS power, the EPM solutions, the security and libraries, then SharePoint is going to be your best friend.

At the end of it all, I have had to learn one very important lesson:

DO NOT COMPLICATE THAT WHICH IS SIMPLE.

Stick by this, and you’ll hit the nail every time.

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5 Comments

  1. Dave ColemanNo Gravatar

    November 29, 2010

    Reply

    Hi Lou

    Some great advice here and ties in very well with a post i did a while ago on should SharePoint be used for websites. My conclusion Yes but some good points are made here.

    Dave

  2. Matthew HughesNo Gravatar

    November 29, 2010

    Reply

    Good advice and I would say for the last question, wordpress is a good, lightweight example of a CMS which can be very powerful. I have used that quite a bit for a few low cost or charity websites.

    Matt

  3. Louise van der BijlNo Gravatar

    November 29, 2010

    Reply

    I completely agree Matthew. Do not fit the solution to the platform, but rather choose the right platform for the solution.

  4. seguros de hogarNo Gravatar

    May 2, 2011

    Reply

    F*ckin¬°¬¶ amazing issues here. I am very happy to see your post. Thanks a lot and i’m looking ahead to touch you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

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