So this has been on my mind for a while. I spent some time looking at various Office 365 / SharePoint Intranet options that I could use to offer to my clients, and was surprised to find that some of them looked nothing like SharePoint. I know, I know – SharePoint by itself isn’t a gorgeous beastie (although it’s getting better), but folks, if you’re investing in something built on SharePoint, why would you choose a product that actively denies its heritage?
At best you’re buying into a jarring user experience as your users are inevitably confronted with SharePoint elsewhere in your organization. At worst, you’re wasting training hours teaching people two different platforms, creating a jarring user experience, losing functionality Microsoft built into the product, increasing the risk of losing existing functionality due to upgrades, et cetera.
Sure, everyone wants a unique branding experience, and that’s all good. There’s a line that ought not be crossed, however. The line may be different between organizations, although based on what I’ve seen it’s fairly consistent.
Global navigation within Office 365, for example, ought not be hidden. Document management features should remain the same whether you’re in the Intranet or in a SharePoint site. Functionality names should not be changed (a document library shouldn’t be called a folder!). Page layouts should use the SharePoint UI framework (whether classic or modern). Use web parts. Build out information architecture using content types and managed metadata.
Be proud of your Intranet’s heritage. SharePoint ain’t always pretty, but it packs a punch. Use it to your advantage!