Our take on SharePoint branding

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When SharePoint is one of your integral applications it’s vital to ensure your users can interact with a vibrant, branded and familiar environment that will encourage use. Perhaps you already use SharePoint but it's been condemned as a peripheral application at the moment, a great powerful tool that's being underused and undervalued.

There are many reasons why SharePoint is a great sharing and collaboration tool and many businesses already know why they should use it, but what about branding and customisation?

Out of the box SharePoint provides the form and functionality needed to increase productivity but that’s only half of the story. Employee engagement and utilisation of its benefits are the only way your business is going to see real benefit. It’s a bit like having a gym membership and only using their shower when your boiler’s broken in the winter! SharePoint has in built design features allowing you to design either a public facing internet site or an internal facing intranet site. What you should add to the software is a professional web designer who knows HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

In addition to design and branding the layout of your SharePoint also requires some thinking. In order to gain that all important end user buy in, you need to include relevant information and useful tools. By running a single sign on application and integrating systems such as your HR process for leave requests and personal information you can ensure that each employee has to use the site. Once they’re comfortable using it the any perceived complexity and difficulty will soon fade away. Once that huge obstacle has been overcome the sky’s the limit.

Successful SharePoint sites such as those that win Intranet Innovation Awards increasingly use widgets to order the given information. But that’s not enough, the widgets need to be focused on your users. The information and tools provided need to be useful, while it’s a great place to store and give employees access to policies and procedures they aren’t going to be needed every day. That doesn’t mean they can be hidden though, designing a well-structured site is best practice and utilising a powerful search function enhances the user experience.

Clearly the required interfaces and information sources will be unique to your business. Consultation with SharePoint specialists and your users is essential to getting the mix right, with user buy in, useful information and productivity being key.

In short to realise the true potential of SharePoint you need good design and user engagement and acceptance. A great way to install the latter into your employees is to give SharePoint the look and feel that goes along with the rest of your company. Planting the idea that SharePoint is a vital component to your business will help engage your users and maximise the potential of this powerful piece of kit.

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