We all know that the companies who make the stuff that they put on the eye-level shelves in the grocery store, paid a price to get that placement. When you walk in and see one brand of soda on an end-cap, and one flavor of chips on the third shelf from the floor, you are looking at the results of a marketing decision. If you are primarily an impulse buyer (like me) this type of marketing is very effective (which is why my wife does the shopping). As we start to turn the corner on our goals to store more and more information in SharePoint, we are facing product placement issues of our own. Unfortunately, I can’t start charging users for prime locations… or can I? (cue the evil laugh). No, I actually can’t.
In an ideal world, placement shouldn’t matter beyond the impact it has on usability. If several people need to work in a particular library on a regular basis, navigating to that library should be easy. On the other hand, does making one library easy to get to elevate its importance over other content? You wouldn’t think so, but then again, you might if you owned the other content. As long as I’ve worked with SharePoint, I have listened to my users moan about what they consider pathetic navigation. It’s not that the K: drive was any better, but even if your entire world is an ill-designed hierarchy of folders, you still know how to navigate. Getting to the folder that is seven levels down in a nonsensical structure is hard, but you can do it, and so can everyone else. When we introduced links, libraries and sorted and filtered views, we were solving what wasn’t largely accepted as being a problem. Now that a number of solutions exist which include “advanced” navigation, it is accepted that we are adding value to these solutions, but it also may be perceived by some that we are adding value disproportionally.
We are working hard to consider usability into our design and development on SharePoint. If you know me, you also know that this approach is relatively new. I am famous for wanting to make things work before making them ”pretty”, but I’ve seen the light, and I realize that there is more to usability than appearances. Now I also realize that usability needs to be evenly distributed – if I make it easier for one group to access their information, another group is likely to feel like the cereal on the bottom shelf. Since I can’t undo years of ignoring usability in one fell swoop, I think I have to have a plan, and then I need to talk about the plan. Hopefully, if people know that we consider all information equally valuable, they will have patience as we make that fact apparent in our design.#userexperience #SharePoint #UX #Naviation