SharePoint provides impressive tools for developing company-facing or client-facing websites. However, the ease of use sometimes allows websites to expand to a tremendous size without ever seeing the sort of user interface and design modifications required to support such a site. This article gives four simple pointers for handling large sites built via SharePoint.
1: Navigation, Navigation, Navigation
When working in digital spaces, the "location, location, location" mantra becomes moot: Everything is located everywhere, and the question becomes how that information is accessed. This should be your top priority moving into large-site design.
There's a challenging balance to strike in making an effective navigation system for a large website. On the one hand, not including important navigational links makes it easy for users to get lost. On the other, including too many links will overwhelm visitors. The best way to strike a balance is to allow a variety of "sub-sites" that each have a context-specific navigation to help users find applicable forms, pages, and gateways inside the category.
2: Unified Design
When working with hundreds or thousands of pages, it's easy for users to lose track of who your company even is. Whether you're trying to keep up professionalism by branding your website for your team or trying to remind your clients which name they should trust, keeping a unified design is a smart move in creating your website.
Bear in mind, however, that this design doesn't have to be identical on each sub-site. Using your company logo alongside category-specific design markers is a great way to give people trail-markers without sacrificing design cohesion.
3: Trim the Fat
It should come as no surprise that a "Spring Cleaning" should be a part of your design upgrades. The tricky part is knowing what elements can be moved off-website. Here are two pieces of advice on that front. First, ask the users! Whether it's your staff or clients, you can get a better sense of how the website can and should change by talking to the users about the user experience. Second, relegate what you can of the staff-facing website to SharePoint's searchable infrastructure. By moving files into this system, you get all the benefits of a well-tested UI without the hassle of making it yourself.
4: Plan for the Future
It's understandable that the site has bloated to its current size, but there's no reason to make this a recurring issue. Take this time to decide what will go on the website, what categories can be used to organize the site, and what can be done in the long-term to improve the user experience and aesthetics of the website.
SharePoint is an amazingly versatile and valuable tool, and the speed and ease with which it allows you to create web pages is just one of its advantages. However, as with all tools, the real impact lies in the hand of the person who uses it.