Can anyone advice me on how to conduct the usability review of a share point
What are the guidelines that i need to stick to?
Get to know the user base really well first. If possible, observe them
using the application in their own space to understand their
frustrations as well as what works best for them now.
Learn the limitations of Sharepoint so that when you communicate
usability recommendations, you won't hear too much "we can't
actually fix that".
Be clear on what the goals of the app will be. What are users trying
to accomplish? Are they sharing files, communicating through a
discussion board, sharing a calendar, etc?
Every Sharepoint site/app is set up a little different because each
group using it will have different goals. Know the user and the goals
and you'll be on your way to a good start.
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Posted from the new ixda.org
I agree with Samantha. If you can get an interview with the users
before they use the application, this will be useful.
Sometimes you cannot visit your customers from any reason (which would
no doubt be the preferred option).
If you cannot conduct focus groups and observe your customers using
the app, then:
* Talk to the support representative and ask them which issues get
the most volume
* Listen to the marketing people and their complaints on why the tool
* Use Web analitics software to learn about your visitors behavioral
* Publish online survey and ask your customers for a few minutes to
help you improve the service
* Use any possible (and impossible) way to gather as much information
as you can
lucky you...if there ever was a treasure trove of opportunities to
uncover usability issues with an enterprise application, sharepoint
Keep in mind that sharepoint is a type of content management system,
where the "ownership" is distributed down to the users of the site
usually. I have found that rarely is proper IA development applied
here, for fear or taking away the freedom of the users to do what
they want. As a result, a large problem with the usability that
people experience is not sharepoint's fault, but a problem with its
That said, if you wanted to test the out of the box usability of
sharepoint, you could design a series of scenarios (e.g. create a
list, change the list name, assign a new user to the web site etc...)
and you would find that there are a lot of things that are usability
challenges. The question would be, what can you do about them? It
would be like identifying there were problems with the MS Word
interface. However, that said, you could use that information to
provide extra help guides for your users, or isolate certain users
from having to execute tasks that might be too confusing for them
To test the implementation of the site, use the same approaches that
one would for any website/application. Make sure that the structure
of the information and the terminology used are tested to make sense
the user community in question.
Good luck with it!
Earley associates had five webinar series on Sharepoint IA. The link
where you will need to register to download the webinars (it's free).
They were pretty informative.
I think you've got most of the points covered; it's just tough
sometimes to distinguish between what can and can't easily be
addressed. The unfortunate thing is even in a new implementation
there are often so many issues in play it's difficult to tell.
A recent review I helped conduct of a newly-implemented intranet at a
Fortune 50 client (developed by the company responsible for half of
the 'top ten' intranet sites) was a complete mess - from IA to
visual design to poor(should be unlawful and maybe is) HTML/CSS/web
standards compliance to just plain painful to use content editing
That said - it's certainly possible to address many of those issues,
but it's important to remember that only a portion of those can be
corrected through better organization and USE of the tools, another
portion can be corrected through better front-end implementation
(many of the 'web part' blocks come stock with poorly done
table/mixed CSS HTML), and the rest are much more difficult to
address as they are mired in 'that's how the tool works' - i.e.
the process for a user to create a page, put web parts on it and edit
that content can be pretty painful.
Certainly lots of challenges, but as a sailing instructor once told
me: when you're starting all the way back, it's the land of
opportunity and you have nowhere to go but up! Categorize the
challenges according to biggest bang for the buck compared with size
of the challenge in addressing it. That way you can find the 'low
hanging fruit' that are easier/less costly and keep resources
available for some of the tougher challenges on your list.