Don’t Make Me Think!

I just finished reading “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug, which focuses on improving web usability. While this book discusses general web development/design, I saw a lot of lessons that could be applied to SharePoint, whether it’s for creating team sites or teaching users how to use SharePoint. Here are some key points I got out of the book:

  • People scan -> design pages for scanning, not reading
  • Use simple, easy words

Isn’t “Jobs” so much more easy to understand than “Employment Opportunities”?

  • Navigation and Search – the two ways people find info (so make sure they’re good!)
  • Minimal amount of words

This rule really applies to everything in life – essays, speeches, blogging, and yes, web sites. Krug suggests cutting at least half of the words. I think this rule really applies when people are writing instructions for say, filling out a new item in a sharepoint request list. People are not going to read paragraphs of instructions.

  • Use a good tag line and/or brief site description

If I go to any unfamiliar site, these are the first two things I look for – what does this site do and what can it do for me? Because if I can’t even figure out those two questions, I’m not going to even bother using the navigation or searching the site. Likewise, SharePoint site owners should include a brief description of their site for any newcomers.

  • Usability Testing

* Minimum 8 testers
* Watch as they test – recommend using a screen recorder to track them
* “Get it Testing” – show them the site and see if they understand the purpose, how it works, etc
* “Key Task Testing” – ask users to do something and see how well they do it

I know people scrimp on usability testing – I have. But it’s true – usability testing really works. Chances are what you think is obvious is not obvious to a new user. When I’m blogging about SharePoint features on our intranet, I try to have someone else look at my post first to make sure it makes sense. And when I’m writing out steps for a training, having another person test the steps really helps pin-point potentially confusing areas.

  • Usability as a common courtesy

Things that detract a user

* Hiding information that I want
* Punishing me for doing things my way

Make it obvious for users filling out an item in a SharePoint list what format you want the data in (ie. dashes in phone numbers, format of a person’s name as either their login or lastname/firstname)

* Putting sizzle in my way

Sometimes users want to put flash or large pictures on their home page to add pizzazz. Skip them – they increase the page load time.


Next on my list – The Design of Everyday Things!


Steps to Drive User Adoption

I just finished watching a Metavis webinar by Dave Coleman and Mark Miller. Here are some of the steps they’ve outlined to help drive user adoption that I thought were interesting:

  1. Show solutions, not functionality
  2. Solve a simple, real world problem
  3. Evangelize small wins
  4. Weekly office hours for company users
  5. Add little items of interest to your site: weather magnet, quote of the day, stock quote (via CEWP)
  6. Include site manager contact info on every page
  7. Find a champion and feed her
  8. Create a weekly newsletter – short & sweet, tips & tricks – links to source
  9. Build a “This is how we did it” category – instructions of how to do things in sharepoint
  10. Have the CEO answer a question a week on the front page of the site
  11. Pictures, graphs, videos, images

Another interesting observation to increase user adoption is to integrate SharePoint into the tools that people use everyday. Examples could be showcasing the integration between Outlook and SharePoint or RSS.

Also, Microsoft has a white paper! – SharePoint 2010 Adoption Best Practices