The New Sharepoint – Blog Features

So I’ve been playing around with the new version of Sharepoint (created for the Office 2007 release) to check out the features.  There were some things I did like about it, and I’ll try to capture these here. But honestly, I feel like I’ve been burned by the tool in the past. Specifically, I’ve been burned by some of the user-assumptions that Microsoft made.  This end-user slighting, has resulted in much of my disdain for Microsoft products and perhaps my skeptical view of their tools. But who knows maybe MS under it’s new leadership is really starting to care about what users think (now that they have to be concerned by some competition from the open source realm).  It is possible to re-gain a slighted end-users trust and loyalty. Maybe, just maybe Microsoft will be able to wash some of that “dorkness” off of themselves.  My husband noted the other night that maybe it’s just that the open-source world has made headway on some in-roads by developing more usable and ‘sexy’ products and so this is just Microsoft’s attempt to keep up.

My biggest questions in exploring this new version of SP were:

  1. Can I effectively use Sharepoint to blog?
  2. Can I effectively post wiki articles that are easily editable and searchable and editable by others?

In short the answers were:

  1. Yes will a lot of initial frustration (but I believe that’s a common business model held by companies or projects that assume that the users must deal with the shortcomings of their tools because they don’t have a lot of other choices – i.e. their company bought the software and now they’re being forced to use it)
  2. Yes, well sort of…

In the next few posts I’ll try to capture most of my observations on the ease of use of the tool as well as it’s key features.  What i’d really like to do if I had the time and better expertise is to evaluate the Sharepoint tool and it’s features using the Ten Usability Heuristics.  These observations are only from an ‘end-user’  or blog writer and wiki editor/author perspective. It would also be helpful to evaluate the tool from both a content management/admin perspective. 

Brief observations on Sharepoint blog features

  1.  It’s very difficult to figure out how to create a blog.
  2. Right scrolling for minutes IS NOT AN OPTION
  3. Search feature works okay, but you still can’t search for posts or comments.
  4. You can readily access blog admin features from your blog home page.
  5. Image posting has universally accessible features

1.)  😦 It’s very difficult to figure out how to create a blog. The path to the  blog creation feature in this new version SP is NOT intuitive.  The designers did try to make up for the lack of ‘intuitive’ design by creating a mouseover menu feature that illustrates what each link in the “Create Page” section does. See if you can guess where you should click first to create a blog just by looking at the image:

SharepointCreate_SM

2.) 😦 Right scrolling for minutes IS NOT AN OPTION.  The default settings on the blog feature post a list of all blogs at the top of the page. This list scrolls horizontally.  Unfortunately, Sharepoint is set so that the horizontal page content determines the entire length of the page. Perhaps there’s a setting or control that changes this, but someone needs to tell Microsoft that they should set page settings so that they fit common web usability standards.

3.) 🙂 / 😦 Search feature works okay, but you still can’t search for posts or comments.  I was able to search for unique words in test postings and also for the names of posters without issue.  However, I wasn’t quite able to figure out how to use the categories for searching.

4.) 🙂 You can readily access blog admin features from your blog home page. (See below image).

SharepointSearch

 

 

 

 

5.) Image posting has universally accessible features– You can use the same image library to post pictures to both your blog and a (Sharepoint) wiki page.

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7 Responses to “The New Sharepoint – Blog Features”


  1. 1 strategyworks December 16, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    Hi Natalie

    This is very useful material. I have a client that I am working with to pilot Wikis and blogs as knowledge management tools. So we’re looking at Sharepoint Portal as a one stop shop solution, like most people are, I guess. Your posts about Sharepoint are very timely. I share your apprehension about Microsoft’s assumptions of user-inuitiveness.

    Alex.

  2. 2 nkilkenny December 16, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    Glad to be of help. I wish I had the time and expertise to be more thorough in evaluating the tool. I know a number of HFEs (Human Factors Engineers) that cringe when you mention Sharepoint to them.

  3. 3 seacat June 28, 2007 at 2:34 am

    Hi Natalie–I’ve heard that msft has made changes to its Sharepoint tool in the last quarter–do you know anything about that? This post is from a while back…What I’ve noticed about the application is that companies are much more willing to try out a blog or a wiki if it’s in sharepoint which, honestly, makes zero sense to me.
    Still, if they’ve improved it, that would be something to know about…
    Thanks!

  4. 4 nkilkenny June 28, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Hiya, Seacat. Thanks for the note. This is true this post is a little dated, but on the other hand it’s good of have a historical record of where the tool needed improvement.

    People (corporate) likes Sharepoint because it’s seductively familiar. This is where the advantage of being the dominant dog in the industry lies. I know as well, after working for a company that partnered with MS (not Multiple Sclerosis) as a large beta testing population… that there’s an advantage to being big and pushing your tools with other ‘big fat entities.’ You build a base of familiarity with your tool.

  5. 5 srgsmom August 14, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Hey there…I saw your part about “Scrolling Right Forever” have you ever figured out how to stop that? I’m in IT and got the job of setting up sites for departments and teams…so I create many sites…and now these sites I have are REALLY wide. I scroll and scroll to get to the other end. Any suggestions?

    There are also other things that drive me nuts…I see on the screen that someone has access to a page, but they get access denied, I see the shared documents (owner) but others don’t (members). ARGGG I’m so frustrated! Thanks for any help!

  6. 6 nkilkenny August 14, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Unfortunately, if people have already added their entries the only way I can think of to remedy this is to re-set up the pages but do categories and then have people file their pages or sites under their appropriate category. It’s not an elegant solution; however, working in Sharepoint is about as Elegant as being a supporting cast member on the “Love Boat.” I no longer work with the tool as my group has moved to using wikis and blogs to communicate. Also, the version I used was at least a year old. Perhaps in newer versions they at least allow you to freeze panes.

  7. 7 srgsmom August 14, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Thanks!!

    We were just talkinga bout that as a solution (althought it’s not much of a solution). I also heard about SharePoint Design 2007 which helps design the pages and I’m hoping it will allow me to “stack” the pages on top to have multiple rows instead of one long one!

    We are using 2007…so it’s the newest..and hasn’t improved much from 03 I’m guessing! Thanks again!


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