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From:
Ulrik Gade <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Ulrik Gade <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Thu, 21 Aug 2008 11:08:11 +0200
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Hi all,

Here's a quick summary of my take on the replies to the original
question. (Sorry 'bout the delay; lots of digging to do.)

First, let me quote these wise words of Milan Guenther (my emphasis):

"But instead of digging too deep into this particular platform, look
at portal / intranet / mobile design in general, DON'T LET TECHNOLOGY
DICTATE THE WAY YOU DESIGN portals on client site, and keep an eye on
the work of Forrester/Gartner/Avenue A et al on that matter."

Precisely. Serves me right for staring too blindly into the headlights
of the tech!

I was worried, though, about being put into a (visual) design straight
jacket by the tool. But these sample SharePoint sites, provided by Tom
Brauch, go some way towards dispelling that particular fear:

http://www.fpweb.net/sharepoint-hosting/sample-sites.asp

In addition, it's possible to create custom Web parts, so there's some
flexibility there too (if you've got the resources).

Maintaining the visual design (branding), menu design and IA
consistent over time may be difficult given the whole ethos of wanting
to enable people to create their own collaborative spaces, and despite
whatever permissions are set up. But this balance will likely need to
be struck, and the maintenance effort kept up, whatever the platform.
"Endless fun and variety guaranteed!", to quote Ellen van Aken.

Re. usability there seem to be at least two further challenges:

1. This type of product is in the early stages of the market maturity
curve (where functionality is all), and targeted mainly at in-house
corporate implementations (captive users). Usability traditionally has
had to struggle to get a place at the table in such circumstances, and
this may be the case here to.

2. SharePoint out of the box is just a pile of possibly great,
possibly not so great, but certainly disorganized features ("a dumping
ground" to quote an IxDA forum contributor). Which can be very
intimidating, to new users in particular. So making implementations a
success in a corporate, low-usability environment may be an uphill
struggle.

On the other hand, "Enterprise Portals Are Popping"
(http://www.useit.com/alertbox/portals.html) and, once organizations
start demanding business value from them, this seems to be a space
with a lot of growth potential and in big need of traditional UX/IA
virtues: figuring out who the users are, what they need and how to
provide this in a way that makes sense to them so they can be
maximally productive.

Thanks a bunch/merci beaucoup/vielen Dank to Milan, Tom, Ellen and
Mary for helping me make a more informed choice about whether to take
the leap!


Best regards,
Ulrik

Links:.
http://delicious.com/eddiexx77/portal (lots of great references)
http://www.ixda.org/search.php?tag=sharepoint
http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=24692&search=sharepoint
http://guenther.cx/index.php/a.enterprise+portals
http://cameronmoll.com/archives/2007/10/sharepoint_2007_pointedly_unskinnable/



-- 
Ulrik H. Gade
Skydebanegade 27, 4. th.
DK-1709 KÝbenhavn V
Denmark
Landline: +45 3698 1823 (SkypeIn)
Mobile: +45 4088 9884
Skype: ulrik.h.gade
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http://www.linkedin.com/in/ulrikgade

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step

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