• SharePoint Designer 101

    SharePoint Desiger is the best tool for user-experience customization of SharePoint sites, at least for those who aren't fluent in code. This software is available for free on the Microsoft website and comes pre-packed with most SharePoint deployments. This article walks you through the basics of using that software.


    During the installation process of SharePoint Designer, the default settings (for the installation, maintenance, Microsoft updates, and so on) are typically preferable. Do not choose non-default options unless you're confident about what those changes will mean. If you have any problems with locating, downloading, or installing SharePoint Designer, the best way to troubleshoot is to refer to the Microsft site. Once you have Designer installed, you're ready to move forward with this article.

    Setting Up a Base Template

    To ready a template for your SharePoint sites, you will go to File → New → Web Site. While there are multiple options available here, the best path is to choose "SharePoint Templates" and select one of the blank basic sites you see on this page. While they lack dynamic content and web parts, those pieces can be added later without difficulty as the templates are pre-built in the ASP.NET framework that allows for such dynamic elements. Unless you have strong reasons for doing so, importing a site at this stage is not recommended.

    Connecting to Your Hosted SharePoint

    To synchronize with your hosted SharePoint, simply enter the URL of your SharePoint into the "site location" box and click "OK." From here, you will be asked to input your SharePoint credentials (i.e., username and password). Once you have done so, Designer will automatically make the necessary synchronizations.

    Using the Interface

    The SharePoint Designer interface is designed to be intuitive for users, especially those familiar with the Microsoft Office suite. While a great deal of good comes from simple experimentation, there are dedicated guides to navigating Designer, with the most prominent coming from Microsoft itself.

  • Conversations for SharePoint Governance Planning

    Setting up an effective SharePoint governance plan is challenging, but it becomes impossible without appropriate communication. After all, without a real understanding of what drives those who live within the framework of that governance, it's entirely possible that your approach will do more harm than good. This entry gives tips on what conversations to have as you work to establish the right governance plan for your company.

    What Are Your Core Company Goals?

    Your governance plan must always be centered around your crucial business outcomes, but it's easy to assume that everyone is starting on the same page when it comes to what those goals are. In reality, employees at different levels of the company, and even different company leaders, may have distinct visions of where the company is headed.

    Establishing and communicating about goals is an effective business strategy in any context, but it serves as a foundation for any governance plans. If that foundation is cracked, everything else is bound to crumble.

    What Roles and Responsibilities Do Employees Have?

    Job responsibilities for various projects should be considered in setting up the framework of SharePoint, but it must also be accounted for when thinking about governance.

    While having these conversations is crucial, it's important to understand that strictly defined roles aren't necessary for every company. Some companies prefer to keep a fluid set of roles, with each mutli-skilled employee blurring the lines between traditional roles as they move the project forward. It's entirely acceptable to define roles in this way. For governance, what matters isn't the exact roles but the boundaries and permissions they require.

    On-Premise and Off-Premise Enforcement

    While the policies of your governance plan will be highly tuned to your business goals, company culture, and the industry you work in, those policies will need an enforcement plan to have any weight.

    Most companies have a policy in place for on-premise work, which is the first step to take. In today's mobile world, however, it's also important to have a policy for off-premise access of sensitive files, emails, and client details. Once these policies are in place, the most important step must still be completed: You must ensure that the enforcement policy is communicated effectively and non-threateningly to your staff.

    Your company may have specific needs or objectives that require other conversations before you can effectively make a SharePoint governance policy. In any industry, however, the conversation topics listed above should provide a solid start.

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