CMS Fridays: Showing Progress And Managing Content In A SharePoint Implementation

One of the great things about SharePoint is it is this complete platform: there are many great features that you can implement allowing end users to manage their own content.

And one of the worst things about SharePoint is that you allow users to manage their own content, which scares end users in most organizations.

We work with a lot of clients who don’t know where that content’s going to come from, because showing little boxes on a site map and empty content areas on a wireframe doesn’t equate to content making it to a published system.

Here’s a few tips about content management systems in general, and SharePoint in specific, that are forgotten during the development process:

If there’s a page in the site map, someone has to write it.

One of the biggest mistakes I see regarding developing websites is there’s time built into the quote for development, requirements gathering, and design, but almost never any time for copy writing. Why is that? Factor in some time not only for writing content, but editing content, because sometimes what you start with is the equivalent to a square peg in a round hole.

There should also be a content style guide (one sheet of paper) that describes the tone of the copy in the intranet. If you are working as a consultant, establish exactly who’s responsible for the content.

If there isn’t any content, it’s good to mock it up.

A legacy from the print work is greeking in text, which is actually latin. It’s the placement of content written in another language to show how the system will work when content is placed in the pages. Lorem Ipsum is a site that generates latin text on the fly depending on your requirements, and is a great resource. This allows end users to see how the system works without focusing on the content on the page.

What happens if the system isn’t full? Plan for this.

One of the biggest misconceptions of software development and information architecture is that all systems start full of content, and there’s never any fallback for when the doors open up and the shelves are empty. Plan for two states: 1) opening up the doors without content, and 2) when the content will grow to fill the site. Remember that you also have to plan for future growth.

Training is good; a SharePoint quick reference guide is better.

SharePoint is a huge product, and expecting the end users to remember what to do after an hour of training is unrealistic. What we’ve done is come up with a tailored quick reference guide that focuses on about 10 key use cases, and it’s the front and back of a tabloid sheet of paper. Users keep it around and refer to it, which limits phone calls in the future.

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