While SharePoint developers must adhere to business requirements when building solutions, they should also consider the entire user experience, according to SharePoint MVP Marc Anderson‘s educational break-out discussion “Creating a Great User Experience in SharePoint 2013″. How should users feel when they use this piece of functionality? Will they see it as saving them work or creating work? How will it compare to what they see on the consumer web?
Findings from a 2013 Forrester Research study revealed dissatisfaction is centered on several areas, including adoption challenges, a dislike for the SharePoint user experience, as well as a preference for other tools such as email.
Anderson suggests developers tap the web for consumer experience inspiration. By creating interfaces similar to popular sites like Facebook and Dropbox, developers can produce a familiar experience for end-users.
Another solution proposed by Anderson is marrying form vs. function. Typically, designers and marketing teams (form) and developers and other IT professionals (function) butt heads when developing solutions. However, the reality is “function requires form.” An ideal user experience integrates both. When it comes to content, Anderson recommends keeping the important information above the fold (just like in newspapers). If users have to scroll every time they land on a page, things are in the wrong place.
- Use real estate wisely
- Decide on a design aesthetic
- Few dense pages vs. sparse pages
- Graphics vs. text
- Color vs. Monochrome
Also, when it comes to the technical aspect, know your user base:
- Browsers (brands, versions)
- Screens (size, resolution, shape)
- Available RAM (the fact that it works on your machine is simply not representative of your end-user)
In closing, many of Anderson’s points echoed Susan Hanley’s keynote when it comes to collaborative development. He suggests meeting with your users to receive feedback. And once that feedback is received, reiterate what they want to ensure there is a clear understanding.