5 ways to get your users to love SharePoint

One of the problems with SharePoint is that, for many of its users, there’s a day when it “just appears.” IT is tasked with rolling out this technology and users of business units are tasked with moving documents into one of their team’s document libraries and suddenly start working on documents from within that library.

The description above isn’t a rare case. Though many organizations do their best to give their business units a heads up about the technology before it’s production roll out, there are still many cases where the communication and training is not quite so concise. When this is the case, SharePoint’s presence can become akin to that of an ugly monster.

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So…with this lack of love in mind, how can you get SharePoint to be used more frequently within your organization? When it comes to SharePoint, an organization’s primary goal should be ensuring users are visiting the key SharePoint pages to result in an outcome that can align itself with organizational goals. How do we accomplish these outcomes though? Well, there’s no magic bullet but there are some tips to be given across the board.

Typically, user adoption is increased by aligning to drivers (reasons that make users want or need to visit sites. The list below includes some of the key drivers for selling user adoption.

While some items on the list might appear obvious, the execution of each one is important in order for users to feel they are on a fully functional website. 

1. Make sure the content you store in SharePoint is relevant

The relevance of content, is likely top of the list. Users become impatient and can lose confidence quickly so it’s imperative that the content is current and targeted correctly to an audience.

The term “relevant” is of an open nature. Relevant content in one user’s eye might not be so relevant in those of a different user. When a user comes to a SharePoint Portal, they expect to see current information related to the business. Also, what is even more important is if the content is targeted toward the correct audience. So, if a user moves toward a home page, they will see content that was updated by authors that relate to the current state of the business. If there were events that took place within the last couple of weeks, those events reports would be visible on the home page. Users like visual content too. If an event report was posted then it helps also use SharePoint to add and display photos of the event and display them in a revolving format on the home page. A normal website should be dynamic to the user’s eye and make them feel that there is content they care about on the home page.

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Relevant content also means content that is specific to the current user. If I am an engineer, I might care about certain articles that were created and published and then expect to see them on the site’s home page. The problem is that the home page in itself becomes a design problem. What if the organization needed a home page blog area for Engineering, Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, Information Technology and other key business units too? The space could become cluttered very quickly with each unit’s blog requiring its own web part. This would be a case that fits well with being able to target content to relevant groups without displaying the content for the other groups. Keeping home page real state to a minimum is import so that page doesn’t become cluttered up and serves the purpose of only displaying content for a particular group of users.

2. Make sure you present content in a meaningful way

Presentation of the content is very important. Whether you are presenting on an Intranet home page or a Team Site, it is important to present content in ways users can identify with. How it is displayed depends upon what the content is. For example, Intranet news articles are usually displayed with the most current article at the top of the list. A Task list, on the other hand might be displayed with overdue tasks being at the top of the list. There are many ways to be able to present the relevant information. What the business requires should be defined ahead of time so they find use in what is being presented to them.

3. Make sure your site looks good

In the days of SharePoint Server 2007, organizations began to realize the Portal sites were receiving more visits from employees when the site looked more attractive. In SharePoint 2007, there were a few different techniques that could be used to brand a site but each came with its own hang up and the solution options were either (1) difficult to develop and difficult to maintain, (2) moderately difficult to develop and easier to maintain, or (3) easy to brand, easy to maintain, but less flexible.

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Some organizations would just leave the vanilla SharePoint out-of-the-box look on their sites but IT departments would receive feedback about how boring the pages looked. They might have been functional but there was little to nothing to get users to feel excited about going to the Portal. Through the subsequent releases of SharePoint (2010, 2013, 2016, and SharePoint Online) and JavaScript’s accessibility as a more powerful development tool (together with more advancement and integration with open HTML and CSS standards) has allowed for the front end development to become more commonplace at organizations using SharePoint and has therefore allowed more SharePoint Intranet and Portal sites to be branded more attractively at a lower cost to the organizations

4. Make your SharePoint experience interactive

As site branding has grown more advanced through the use of front end development, the advent of the SharePoint Store has given rise to use of independently developed apps. There are a variety of apps that are downloadable and supported. These apps provide some readymade options for providing some interactivity into an organization’s sites. For example, there are a variety of quiz apps available for download in the SharePoint Store. Quizzes come in the form of single question all the way through full scale LMS applications. To see more apps, check the SharePoint Store.

5. Have resources that can support your SharePoint users

Your business units are being asked to adapt to a new system that, in many cases, drives part of their daily business processes. As with all systems, business users need to feel comfortable enough to use and begin to understand how they might be able to further streamline their processes by using SharePoint. One of the most crucial (yet overlooked) pieces of the user adoption puzzle in with SharePoint is that it needs support presence. With its feature set capable of driving such a wide-range of processes for varying business units, users need to know there is a reactive support presence.

Successful adoption hangs largely upon users feeling confident that there is a support model in place and that their support experience is a pleasant one. Whether the support is in-person v remote, depends upon the company culture but the importance of an organization’s SharePoint support cannot be understated.

Conclusion

Whether users will “love” SharePoint after using these tips but there is a strong possibility that adoption rates will increase. Remember, SharePoint is all about content and the content needs to be useful and easy to find for users.

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