SharePoint UI best practiceThe out-of-the-box SharePoint user interface (UI) may be functional, but that doesn’t seem to be enough for some enterprises that want to create a better user experience. Designing a UI for the everyday user is not difficult, but requires understanding and attention to detail.

Apart from making the UI good to look at, the emphasis should be on increasing usability. There are several elements of SharePoint UI best practice that you should follow to improve user experience (UX) and thereby increase business efficiency.

The Header

Your SharePoint header should contain all the functions that a user needs for global access to your site. Best practice dictates that these should include a logo linking back to your homepage as well as functionality for search and navigation.

The header can be customized to include shortcuts and quick links to popular destinations, company news, and announcements.

Dropdown Menus

Your web-based UI should include dropdown menus that display second-level navigation links. Doing this instead of using a side navigation panel leaves more space for layout design on the home page.

However, strike a balance between dropdown menus and functionality. Menus that are so long that they disappear off the screen tend to irritate users, both experienced and everyday alike. It is recommended that dropdown menus be limited to eight links.

Search Function

In best practice UI, the search area is normally aligned in the header to the right, with the logo aligned left. However, this is not set in stone and you may prefer to swap it around for a different look. Be aware, however, that most people will look for search functionality on the right of the page. To refine the search function, use search scopes. But before including search scopes, determine the parameters you need from usage reports.

Web Parts

Pay close attention to where different web parts are placed on the page. Web parts should be ranked in order of importance. Put yourself in the place of a visitor or everyday user to see what catches the eye on page load.

The size of web parts in page design will play a major role in drawing a visitor’s attention. Align the most important web part to be top left below the header so it is the first thing a visitor sees.

Avoid cluttering the UI with too many web parts. No more than six per page is best practice for a SharePoint UI.

Differentiate Between Links and Text

It is important that visitors to your site can differentiate easily between links and read-only text. Assign one color to links and make read-only text gray. Black is often too stark and can make reading difficult.

Any images that you use should be cropped to ensure that the subject matter is to the forefront. Readers should not be distracted by too much going on in the background.

UI Buttons

Buttons can distinguish links from other interface elements. Several techniques can be used in designing buttons to make them stand out using color and depth.

Buttons can be a useful tool for enticing visitors to activate hyperlinks to valuable content. You may need advice from experts to learn where to place buttons for best effect.

Other advanced customizations for your SharePoint page’s UI could include fades and movement of images, which can be eye-catching and effective when designed properly.

Best practice UI for SharePoint is based on research and on what works for everyday users. When in doubt, don’t leave it to in-house people to design the UI according to their own personal thinking, but call in consultants to provide fresh perspective and expertise for everyone’s benefit.

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