In this series of blog posts, we have been talking about designing a SharePoint team site. The first two posts detailed the process of working with the teams to determine the Apps to support collaboration and business processes. I also introduced you to Pages and what they are used for. In this blog post, we focus more on web design and user interface design. Now, I’m not an expert on either of these, but fortunately with SharePoint, you don’t have to be. Site Owners are not supposed to have to know web design or coding and should not have to rely too heavily on IT to provide this expertise. When it comes to user experience I hope common sense guides me.
Most web sites on the Internet are revenue driven. The web site owners want visitors to frequent their web sites and for most of them there are tons of advertisements that they hope will catch your eye. To keep you coming back, the websites must have value to the visitors. Take Amazon for example. Amazon displays content to each visitor based on past visits and past experiences. Amazon knows what you purchase and they tailor what you see in hopes that they display merchandise that you are most likely to purchase. Another example is CNN. If you have an account and log in, you can customize your news consumption experience and they will show you content that is relevant to you. In both cases, the sites provide immediate and relevant information to the visitor. Otherwise, you would not frequent the site. Imagine if you visited CNN and the news was 2 weeks old. Or, if you visited Amazon and they kept presenting you with female bath products when you were a guy that leaned more towards electronics as a hobby. In any case, a web site must have valuable and relevant content. This is the most important thing to remember when you as a Site Owner are architecting your sites pages.
Continuing with my series of posts regarding the design of SharePoint sites, I continue by talking about the process of working with your teams to brainstorm and formulate the requirements for the site as well as the business processes to be addressed in the design.
From as early on as you can accomplish it, you should involve the IW’s (Information Workers), or the team members and users that will actually utilize the site. They, after all, are the users that will tell you whether the solution works and has value. So, work with your team members. Ask them what they need from the solution. Keep them in the loop throughout the design process. Ask for their input. Have them test the solution whether through a formal Pilot period or at some other interval.
Throughout the design process you will decide what SharePoint Apps (artifacts) you need to accomplish your teams collaboration needs. You will use some Apps out-of-the-box and some you will highly customize. You may even use the SharePoint App Store or purchase 3rd party Apps to accomplish your goals. Regardless, you should have a detailed list of the Apps required for your team. Those Apps are now part of your site and can be found in Site Contents. You could simply stop here and have your team navigate to Site Contents whenever you wanted to work with Lists or Libraries. You may even go one step further and place links to those Apps in the Quick Launch menu. But this is SharePoint. SharePoint is a web site that is made up of pages. Our next step is to design the purpose for these pages and then populate them with content using our Site Contents.
Whether its status reports for management, updates for team members, or presentations for business partners, project managers are constantly asked for reports. Project managers also need reports to make quick decisions to keep projects on track. On September 25th, 2015, Andy Huneycutt presented a 1-hour web seminar, in which he demonstrated how to take advantage of the robust Business Intelligence capabilities in Project Server 2013 and Project 2013. Attendees learned how to start analyzing project data with the reporting capabilities in Project Server 2013 and Project 2013.
Topics covered in this web seminar include:
Creating and customizing graphical reports in Project 2013
Selecting the right report type
Using Microsoft Excel to create reports
Which tools you can use to create reports in Project Server 2013
Project Web App reporting improvements in the Business Intelligence (BI) Center
Changes in the Reporting database
OData service for online and on-premises access for reporting
Organizations often struggle in early SharePoint implementation to understand how to really utilize SharePoint and hit the ground running. One of the most common ways that companies initially implement SharePoint is as a replacement for network drives. Because of the obvious information management features like “Check Out” and “Versioning”, SharePoint administrators often think that SharePoint is just an improvement over storing information on network drives. But SharePoint is NOT a replacement for network drives.
On Friday, September 18th, SharePoint expert, Tom Robbins, presented the free webinar, SharePoint is Not a Network Drive Replacement. In this one-hour presentation, Tom discussed the best way to utilize SharePoint to manage information lifecycle and how to use SharePoint to implement business processes focused on that content.
Topics covered included:
What is SharePoint? The big picture!
What are Libraries and What can they be used for?
What is Metadata?
Folders vs Metadata
Common problems created by folders
Taking a complex folder structure and replacing it by architecting a Library for the content
Missed it? No worries! Download your copy of the presentation slides and a full audio and visual recording below to learn about what SharePoint was truly designed for, best practices for Library architecture to avoid the problems caused by Folder structure, how to move beyond the inefficient and antiquated practice of storing content in containers for categorizing, and to see how metadata implementation sets your SharePoint system up for success in many ways.
The process of designing a SharePoint site that will be of immediate value and provide return on your investment should start very early on in the SharePoint rollout. This is not always possible as many organizations take a “roll-out and learn-as-we-go attitude” when it comes to SharePoint. However, to maximize adoption and to guarantee a great return on investment, it helps to understand how to address deployment and follow those guidelines from the beginning if at all possible. That includes planning, governance, and adoption strategies.
In my next few blog posts, I will talk about how to plan for and design a Team or Project portal. To get started with site design, you have to fully understand what your end goals are for SharePoint? Why have you chosen this tool, and do your business requirements fit in with what SharePoint offers? So many customers try to make SharePoint into something that it is not. It’s first and foremost a Collaboration Platform. While it can be made to do almost anything, OOTB, it comes with tools and apps to facilitate collaboration. By being very creative, you can make it do anything, but that is something for later down the road. So make sure you have an understanding of the type of solution SharePoint provides.
Next, work with your teams to pinpoint the breakdowns and pain-points in their current collaboration and processes. Often you will hear that teams use email, and how inefficient email is at facilitating collaboration. You may also hear that document collaboration is an issue. It always comes down to not being able to find the types of information you need when you need it. SharePoint, by nature of being a website, gives us a platform to address all of these pain-points. Whatever your team determines as their major issues, work with them, by sharing the capabilities of SharePoint, to pinpoint which SharePoint tools will best address those issues. You will have to demo some real-world scenarios and show how SharePoint libraries, lists, discussion boards, newsfeeds, etc. can be leveraged to improve upon their broken methods of collaboration. So, make sure you have a functioning SharePoint installation so you can demo things on the fly for your team. There are some good examples of how SharePoint has been implemented for Teams and Projects. They can be found through simple internet searches.
The most important part of any successful SharePoint implementation is Governance. Governance should be started early on and should be a living/breathing and ongoing effort. In this web seminar we went over how asking the right questions can help you create a Governance team. From content management policies through security procedures, we discussed concepts that help you guarantee a successful deployment as well as a sustainable and useful system. Below are the topics that we covered in this one hour webinar:
What is Governance?
Building the Governance team
Asking the right questions
Checklists to walk you through to success
Ongoing adoption and Governance maintenance
On Friday, September 11th Tom Robbins presented a 1 hour web seminar on how to introduce SharePoint Governance to your team.
Web parts are server-side controls that run inside a web part page: they’re the building blocks of pages that appear on a SharePoint site. Web parts are like widgets, or better yet, Apps. Think of the apps on a smart phone. They provide functionality on a smart phone. Web parts on SharePoint pages provide functionality. There are web parts that allow you to display Lists and Libraries. There are web parts that allow you to display KPI’s or SSRS reports. Take this quick little quiz to see how well you know Web parts, and which web parts can be used to provide certain functionality….. Good Luck!
Match the Desired Result on the left with the appropriate Web Part on the right!
Display all of the documents currently checked out to a particular user
Excel Web Access WP
Display that Task List with or without the Timeline
Display an image
Site Users WP
Display a video
Image Viewer WP
Display a table in an Excel Worksheet
Page Viewer WP
Display a Visio Web Diagram
Content Editor WP
Show only List or Library Items that match a users filter selection
Visio Web Access WP
Display a title across the top of a web part page
App Web Part
View the members of the default members group
Relevant Documents WP
View a web page within a web page
Choice Filter WP
Answers: 1) I 2) H 3) D 4) B 5) A 6) G 7) J 8) F 9) C 10) E
How can users create dashboards in SharePoint 2013?
How can a user keep track of important activities related to their projects?
How can our managers easily track our progress in SharePoint?
These are some of the most commonly asked questions in SharePoint classes. Fortunately, SharePoint 2013 offers many options for building rich, interactive dashboards. Using out-of-the-box web parts, you can design interactive web pages that provide the right information to the user, at the right time, from any web-connected device.
On August 28th, 2015 ASPE Instructor Andy Hunneycutt presented a web seminar: “Creating Dashboards for Business Process Automation in SharePoint 2013″. This 1-hour seminar covered designing dashboards in SharePoint 2013 and using pages and out-of-the-box web parts including:
• SharePoint App web parts
• Business Data web parts
• Excel Services Web App web part
• Status List web part
• Content Rollup web parts
• Content Search web part
• Project Summary web part
• Timeline web part
• Filter web parts
• Text Filter
• Choice Filter
• SharePoint List Filter
• Current User Filter
• Forms web parts
• InfoPath Form web part
Missed this seminar? Catch up by downloading the slides and recording here.
There are so many web parts out there that allow you to customize the look and feel of your site and improve the user experience. In this video we are going to talk about how to use the current user filter web part in SharePoint 2013.
In this example, we have a project site with a document library. We have documents modified by multiple people in different project phases. We also have a task list assigned to multiple different people.
What is the current user web part used for?
Navigate to the filter page. Once this page opens, I want this page and all of the contents on the page to be customized to the current user that’s visiting the page. You can create views for each library and task list and have those views filter based on the current user, but that can be limiting. When we use the current user filter web part we can actually use active directory and SharePoint profile properties to narrow down how the page is viewed. On this page, I just want to see documents that I’ve modified last. In the task list, I only want to see tasks that are assigned to me. We can use the current user web part for that.
Setting up the current user web part:
1. To insert that filter on the page, go into page edit mode. It doesn’t matter where it goes on the page because it will be invisible.
2. Insert from the web part gallery, from the filters gallery, and select the current user filter.
3. In order to get to the properties, select the web part and then go to the top toolbar and select web part properties. The first set of properties that we need to configure in the web part window on the right is what value to provide. If you use the current user name, it uses the wrong format. You actually need to use a SharePoint profile value and select name on the drop down. This will give you the value of what matches the modified by field displayed in SharePoint.
4. Now a drop-down appears on the current user web part. You can use this drop-down menu to start creating connections to both the document library and task list to filter on the value we chose over in the properties window.
Add a connection document library: Select to connect the document library, choose filter value from, and click configure. I want to use the modified by field, so I want to filter and only see documents that were modified by the person who matches the name in the window on the right.
Add a connection to the task list: Notice when you go into the drop down menu, there is a check where the documents library is already connected. Select to connect the task list, select get filter values from, and then for the task list we want to use the assigned to field.
5. Scroll down to the bottom of the properties pane and click ok to save. The web part is still there but no longer has anything in it. When you save the page, the web part becomes invisible but the task list and document library are filtered.
That is how you set up a web part that is great for any time you want to customize the experience the user has on the page.
There are about 25- 30 out of the box web parts with SharePoint 2013. Some are obvious as to what they do, where some require some serious configurations including learning to write some code.
What I want to do is break down how to use the filter web part. The filter web part allows us to filter based on meta data in lists or libraries to that we can customize the look and feel of the pages to suit our audience. Its similar to audience targeting but different.
Lets get started:
I’ve got a task list here. As I scroll down, you’ll notice that my tasks for ease of demonstration are each associated with a specific project faze. You will notice I’ve got the phase here. Then I also have a document library that is classified and categorized by faze. What I’d like to be able to do is see the task list and document library on the same page, but I’d like to be able to quickly filter out and only see certain phases.
Example- Using the Filter:
Let’s say I just want to see documents in the initiation phase along side tasks in the initiation phase. I’ve got a completed page here to show you what I’m talking about. On the right I’ve got the document library and there is no filtering and I’ve got the task list and there is no filtering on it either. You’ll notice up here on the top, I’ve placed a choice filter. I can simply start typing in what I want to search on or I can pick from the drop down box on the right. If I choose initiation phase, now I just see the documents and tasks that that are in the initiation phase. It allows me to filter what has been seen on the page. I can switch to the planning phase or I can clear my filter and go back to using the default view. That’s basically what the choice filter web part will allow you to do.
Example- Setting Up the Choice Filter:
Lets take a look at another page where I have not yet built that filter web part. Notice there is no filter web part yet, so that is what I’m going to show you how to do. First lets go into edit mode, and then on this wiki page just above the task list, well insert the choice filter web part. Now it is on the page. To make it behave like a normal web part, you have to click on it to make the toolbar appear at the top and the web part properties. Once you have done that, we need to go in and give it the actual values that will match the phases within the task list as well as the document library. Then we will just apply the ones you have added.
Now if you scroll up you’ll notice that the web part has changed its behavior a little bit. Now there is an expand window that allows you to do connections. So what we need to do now is connect this web part to the document library and task list and tell it to filter based on our choices. We do that with the web part connections. In the connections, we are going to send the values in the choice filter first over to the task list and get filter values and then tie them to the phase field. You are going to do the same thing for the document library. Click finish. Then you can rename the filter phase filter.
Example- Testing and Resetting the Filter:
Now when we save the page, we need to test the filter to see if it works. We’ll click on initiation phase and notice the documents on the right and task on the left are sorted by initiation phase. This is a great way to give users the ability to filter out what they see on the screen when it comes from multiple lists and libraries.
The only thing missing here is how to clear out and go back to no filter at all. One of the options of the choice filter web part, if we go into the web part properties, is the part under the advanced filter options to show an empty value. That clears your filter.