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January 28
Look before you Leap – into customizing SharePoint

I’ve worked with SharePoint since 2002. I’ve seen a lot of change, and a lot of “interesting” implementations over the years in order to meet business requirements. In SharePoint 2007, I led the charge on customizations because well – if you wanted to do anything beyond the most basic of sites, it was required.


But now with SharePoint 2013, I find myself having very different conversations with clients. A lot of requests start like this: “We want a custom search to look for files based on different types of topics and metadata.” “We need a collaboration site beyond what SharePoint 2010 provides, how much custom work is involved?” “I’ve worked with SharePoint before – it’s so ugly out of the box, it needs to look great, but I have a really small budget. What can you do?”

And immediately I know they have not seen SharePoint 2013 yet. More and more, I am advising my clients to take a hard look at how the new features in SharePoint 2013 can meet their business needs right out of the box, or darn close to it. It may require a demo to show new features, or how explaining how using metadata can allow them to bring back specific content based on a search. When we go through this exercise, I am pleasantly surprised at more and more clients saying – “Oh, this is really cool! I never thought about doing the search like that”, or “Hey, this looks great!” or “I actually hadn’t seen this version yet – this community site is exactly what we are looking for with a collaboration site.”

So if you are planning on diving into SharePoint 2013, but have not explored the capabilities yet, I strongly recommend you spend some time online (or with us of course) and learn about what’s new. Some of the features I think my clients are finding most interesting these days:

·         Overall look and feel – the navigation of the overall site still needs some work to make it really usable, but in general the OOTB look and feel is friendly, modern and clean. We have had clients take this look and feel with minimal changes. That said, branding is still a great idea!

·         Search, Search, Search – whether you are using the “Search everything” or searching for words within a specific list or library, it is incredibly powerful now. Refinements help narrow down results, and different hovers for different search results allow users to preview in-line on the search results, rather than click on every single option to see if it’s the right item (you do need Office Web Apps running on a separate server in order for this to work, but it’s worth it!)

·         Content search web parts – taking content query to the next level, it allows site administrators to create display of content based on search terms. So great – it provides your users dynamic content with minimal effort.

·         Video – the video/asset gallery is vastly improved and allows for the flexibility to manage video renditions, mix and match a gallery of uploaded videos with videos hosted in Vimeo or YouTube, and more. Check it out if you have been disappointed with SP Video capabilities, or lack thereof.

·         Community templates – where Facebook meets the office; these are GREAT for “interest groups”. Whether it’s a technology specialty group, diversity initiatives, “green teams” or a runners club, these templates allow employees to connect in a more collaborative, fun way.

There are a ton of new features, but these are some of the top features to consider over building difficult-to-support custom capabilities.

Again, enjoy your exploration of SharePoint, and if you have questions, please tweet them to @sharepointjuju! Thanks!

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