SharePoint has never been known for having the best user interface (UI). But what it has provided is a platform around which organizations could develop powerful business solutions using things like forms and workflows, lists and tam sites, and by manipulating the look and feel. SharePoint has long been referred to as a “Swiss army knife” in that you could build it out to meet your unique requirements. The problem, however, is that adding new features does not mean you’re improving the overall user experience (UX). With all of its advances, the fact remains that SharePoint has a UX problem.
UI and UX are not the same thing, of course. A user interface is about the presentation of data and functionality — the graphics or images, the color and design themes, the buttons and drop downs. The UX, on the other hand, is about the underlying technology framework of capabilities — the capabilities or workloads available, and the flow of movement between workloads. A UI can be appealing to look at, but fall short when key features are missing.
Even the most beautiful design can fail to deliver necessary business value.
End users often compare the SharePoint UI, which, to be fair, has improved dramatically since its early days, with the latest consumer tools. Ignore the fact that the majority of these tools have one or two capabilities, only serving a small sliver of the capability of SharePoint. But therein lies the answer to why users gravitate toward these small, disparate solutions: they perform as expected, and deliver what is needed.
Rather than focus on being the best at any single capability, SharePoint seeks to provide a broad, horizontal strategy across many functional areas. The core benefit of this approach is that you have the benefit of shared infrastructure, including identity management and authentication. That’s a huge benefit, right there. And many of the features it provides are as robust (or nearly as robust) as the most popular consumer-based tools. The problem for SharePoint is in creating a fluid, flexible user experience across these capabilities.
If you’re watching the developments and news coming out of Microsoft, they are most definitely focusing on improving the SharePoint UX. CEO Satya Nadella is talking about “transforming collaboration” and productivity, which for SharePoint looks to mean the creation of a stronger UX around core solution areas, such as Office 365 Video, one of their new “NextGen Portal” solutions that seeks to make the platform more intelligent, social, mobile, and ready to go.
How important is the UI? People are drawn to a beautifully designed site — even if that site provides less functionality. What keeps them coming back — whether to a small, consumer-based tool that provides one core function, or to an enterprise collaboration platform that serves as a digital workplace — is a combination of design and capability that provides the user with a positive work experience. At the end of the day, its about driving productivity and collaboration.
The key to end user adoption and engagement on your SharePoint environment is to provide both a well-designed UI as well as powerful and flexible UX that meets your business requirements.
That’s the Beezy approach. While the market is flush with consulting companies making the transition from hourly consulting to managed services, providing customers with an improved UI “skin” on top of SharePoint or Office 365, Beezy provides software that actually extends the UX of SharePoint to provide customers with a unified platform that goes beyond the out-of-the-box experience. The end result is a solution that has both a beautiful UI and a compelling UX — form and function.
Beezy is what collaboration is supposed to look like. If you’ve not seen a demo of Beezy, its time you took a closer look. Contact us today.