Don’t Hide the #SharePoint Search Box!

Another requirement from one of the developer Facebook groups this weekend :

Does anyone have some tips on how to hide the searchbox located in the upper right corner, my extension don’t wanna hide it for some reason.

We cannot reiterate enough on what a TERRIBLE idea that will be – do not do this. There is an incredibly powerful search engine behind SharePoint, that is there for a reason. You cannot simply take the box away because you don’t like it. If search isn’t available to people, you have nothing more than a glorified fileshare that forces people to click through to find anything.

We have generated FAR too much content on this planet to remember where it is all being stored. That horse has bolted. We need to search to find content, instead of just clicking through links and folders to find it.

We’ve also seen a large corporate switch off search across the entire platform, because someone stored salary information that came up in the search results. They brought a 15-year old platform to a halt with that move. It also gave people the impression that SharePoint was broken, so people were then hesitant to store content on it, which derailed the user adoption plans. If people think SharePoint has no search, they will simply think it is not a very good tool and go out and buy something that does have search in it, which results in even more shadow IT. It is completely the wrong approach. Rather address the people that did share the content – which they probably did because they had no training in the first place. This is also why strategy, governance and information architecture is so important. You must decide what content must be stored where and why, or you end up with exposed content. Switching off search does not solve that problem, because you can still share information internally and externally.

Search is even more crucial now with the flat architecture approach Microsoft has created. There are countless silos of information that users are creating themselves. You will never be able to click through a hierarchy again, like we did with site collections and subsites till now. Everything is a site collection and you cannot get every single site collection into the top navigation. You need search.

If your business / branding requirements are saying the search box needs to be removed, you are doing SharePoint wrong. Push back and explain that this is not best practice on a content management platform like this. Don’t mess with the default admin / search settings, they are in constant use by business users across the globe.

If all you are focusing on is an issue like this, you are headed down a slippery path. Your prime goal for using SharePoint should be clean, well-managed, well-structured, centralised data. All the pretty branding in the world will be meaningless if there is nothing behind them to access easily. Leave search alone.

2 responses to “Don’t Hide the #SharePoint Search Box!”

  1. Veronique Palmer Avatar

    You are allowed to disagree. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your perspective. It’s not the experience I’ve had with the platform, but everyone’s is different.


  2. James Hathaway Avatar

    I could not disagree with you more.

    I have completed several SharePoint implementation Projects for large organisations, and the only ones that truely succeded were where we Disabled the global search function entirely, and created bespoke search functionality for specific use cases.

    8 times out of 10, the search function caused uses to retrieve the WRONG file and allowing them to bypass the governance and best practices of the organisation. You’re correct that good strategy and governance is the key, but in our experience, Sharepoint Global search is a BARRIER to good governance, rather than an enabler.

    The best SharePoint implementations are when the Users can find the information they are looking for within 3-4 clicks of a well designed structure and navigation system. This ensures the Users see what the organisation wants them to see, and not “unofficial” informationor documents randomly created by Users.


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