Someone recently took me on for putting versioning in my document names on our website. As a SharePoint professional, I know this is not good practice. However, remember who the audience is.
The resources on our website are publicly available for download so we have no way of knowing who has these documents and what they’re being used for. I purposely put the version number in the document name so people can instantly see if they still have the right version of the document on their sites or fileshares. Our documentation is not like this internally, there we use the versioning functionality.
I often get flack for our awful website – it’s not pretty, this I know. My favourite quote was: “The first time I went to your website I thought it was broken”. LOL! But it gets used during every single beginners training course we give to show working examples of what they’re busy learning – and explained what works and what doesn’t work, how to do things and how not to do things. And for as many detractors we’ve had, we’ve had equal attracters saying it’s massively useful and familiar cos it’s built on SharePoint. You can’t make everyone happy right.
When you’re building your sites, whether it’s out of box configuration or custom development / branding, always ask yourself who your audience is; who are you building for? With our website, I wanted a portal of information for people to access. (It’s busy being re-engineered cos it is a mess).
There is no point in building an over-architected solution using content types, managed metadata and content type hubs if the people who have to maintain the system afterwards barely know how to upload a document. They won’t use it. While things like that are (usually) built for a reason, what is the point if people simply will not use it because it’s too complicated? You need to understand your audience and their SharePoint maturity level.
The same counts for branding your internal team sites. An insane amount of time and money is wasted on custom branding intranet sites in many instances. Companies spend months arguing about what specific colour something has to be – for an internal website that no-one but staff can access. Why? Why not allow some freedom and have some fun internally? It’s the people on the ground who have to use SharePoint.
How often do you hear that Exco members are actively using and maintaining a site? In 5 years I’ve never heard that. Yet I have heard countless times that it’s the execs that want a specific colour or some random marketing, flash, moving image all over the site. What on earth for? Companies are more than happy to waste thousands and thousands of Rands on custom branding, but not a cent on upskilling the staff who actually have to use and maintain it. How does that make any sense?
Staff inside the company don’t care about stuff like that. They want to know what your department does, how your department can make a difference in their lives, how they can get hold of you, get to know you, understand what you’re working on, and give feedback. That marketing shpeel just gets in the way of this and drives people away from your site. That stuff is fine for internet sites, not internal sites.
Remember your audience. And have some fun with it.
The site below isn’t finished yet, but it’s original name was going to be the Design, Development, Maintenance and Support Office Site – DDMSO. (Yawn). That’s what the head of the department wanted it to be called. But the audience was a bunch of hardcore techies – and what’s the one thing that all techies love? Sci-fi! So after an all day brain storming session understanding everything they wanted to achieve with the site, we built it like this instead.
Everything in the original brief from the manager is in here, but it’s been made fun for the people who will have to use it. You can’t see it here, but every link has alternative text so people know what it’s for. Universe is all the projects all the teams are working on internally and externally. The Energy Field is training resources, FAQ’s, tips and tricks, team discussions, events, etc. Now that the shell has been built, we can get great images to make it look really sexy. Doesn’t Stargate sound more fun than DDMSO? And they love it!
Remember your audience.