UI/UX Design in SharePoint                                  

February 25, 2017

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Rameswaran VS

SharePoint Technical Architect

User Interface and User Experience design play a vital role in the design of any website. A high fidelity design ensures that users have better experience while accessing the website in the form of readability, usability, accessibility, etc.

SharePoint’s features cater to the business needs of any organization. However SharePoint does not provide enough Out Of the Box (OOTB) options for creating enriched User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) which is essential for websites that need to be device and browser agnostic.

What is UI/UX in SharePoint?

User Interface is a subset of User Experience. UI focuses more on the form fields, buttons, web parts and other design details while the UX is more to do with the performance of the site, functionalities, architecture and content. UX is also concerned with usability and accessibility of the SharePoint site.

SharePoint UI Design can be elegantly done but end users may still have a bad user experience if the site content is unorganized and takes more time to load.

Considerations in UI/UX

A detailed research and analysis during the initial phase of the project to understand the business goals and end user challenges in the usability of the existing application or expectations on the new design will help in coming up with a roadmap and hence better design.

Options in SharePoint for better UX

Microsoft has been introducing new and innovative features in SharePoint Portal Design with every release which helps the developer community to design and develop intranet and internet portals with rich UX. In the earlier versions, limited options were provided for SharePoint UI design which included the customization of the master pages and style sheets.

SharePoint 2013 release dealt with creating client based solutions which predominantly cater to cloud hosting. Microsoft introduced Design Manager Feature which helps the developer community to just develop HTML, CSS and JavaScript and package them as SharePoint artifacts and deploy them. This option provides flexibility to any client side application to be ported to SharePoint using Design Manager.

NAPA can be used for only browser based online solution.

Microsoft is currently working on releasing new features which will help developer community to design better UI/UX solutions using UI Fabric and SharePoint Framework. The primary focus is on introducing these new features in Office 365. On 23rd Feb, Microsoft released SPFX 1.0.0 for SharePoint 2016.

After the introduction of SharePoint Add-ins (apps), designing a component with better UX has become easy because of the extensive use of client technologies like HTML 5, CSS 3.0, JavaScript, JS Frameworks and REST APIs.

Also, an intuitive SharePoint form designer called PowerApps has been released in SharePoint online version, which helps in creating better UI/UX SharePoint list and library forms. This will not only help the developer community but also the designers and power users who can instantly design and apply branding using the browser based configuration wizards.

Developing responsive web sites has become the need of the hour for any organization due to the extensive use of smart devices. All the above mentioned tools and technologies help us achieve them with ease and minimal coding.

Final Thoughts

A better UI/UX in any SharePoint site will be achieved when the below checklists are adhered to:

✔ Understanding the business goals

✔ Understanding user community and their needs

✔ Choosing the right hosting environment (cloud/onpermise)

✔ Understanding SharePoint roadmap

✔ Organized Information Architecture

Skilled SharePoint UI designers and developers

If you would like to know more about our SharePoint portal services, then do leave an enquiry with us and we will get back to you soon.

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