Have you ever wondered why many of your SharePoint users were not always using SharePoint for actions it fulfills perfectly? I say that because I've seen most of the features of SharePoint being replaced by external tools by my coworkers and even me, I have to admit.
Why is that? How can you make sure your users really use SharePoint the way they should in their daily work? Here are a few tips that worked for me as a SharePoint user and I'm sure, will for many others.
SharePoint training to increase user adoption
I don't think this will surprise anybody. Without a good understanding of how the platform works, people won't see the real value of using it. I'm not talking about the usual little training you get when you start a new job, which means telling them quickly how to use the platform for basic stuff they'll have to do.
No! I'm talking about a real Power User training describing the different features of SharePoint and how to use some of them. You don't have to get into the small details, but it has to be more complete than a quick click this and that talk.
I started to see the real value of using SharePoint through training. I started to learn SharePoint with expert Benjamin Niaulin a couple of months ago to write a SharePoint blog series for beginner and realized that the more I knew about it, the more I used it in my daily job.
A good way to give a valuable SharePoint training without spending too much of your time, or someone else's, into it is to create short videos. Of course, creating those videos takes some time and energy, but once it's done, you can make sure every new user and existing ones understand perfectly the platform.
They can even go back to a specific video if they forget how to use a feature. This will then save you a lot of time answering questions and you'll know your users will treat SharePoint well.
SharePoint Branding will help engage users
We usually hear that all that matters is what's inside right? We can all agree that even if it's partly true, the look or design always gets in the way. Of course, if the inside part is weak, the look won't make up for it, but we'll get to that part later.
The importance of branding is very relevant for a website, an extranet or an intranet created with SharePoint. Your users will be more inclined to use your platform if it's aesthetically appealing which is the case for many other things.
Don't tell me it isn't the first thing you check when you arrive on a website for the first time. I have to admit that sometimes the design of a website will have me leave right away. For me, the effort you put on the interface reflects the importance you give to the platform. It shows that you went one step further to improve the experience of your users and that you think it's valuable.
Don't try to do it yourself if you know nothing about SharePoint design and CSS. Why? You don't get the point if you think that only you need to do is customize your SharePoint a little bit to make it more appealing to your SharePoint users. It has to be really pretty!
People specialize in design for a reason and if you choose well, you'll get a SharePoint branding like no other. A branding that'll create positive emotions and a sense of belonging within your users and represents well your business' brand. It's a little bit harder to hate something pretty and cute don't you think? Would you easily hate that kitten?
Clean and Organize SharePoint to make it last
No-one likes a mess. I know for a fact that when something isn't clean and organized, I tend to stop using it. This is also true for your SharePoint environment. When it gets very messy after a while, it creates a negative experience for your users which can lead to negative emotions towards SharePoint.
It's very easy to lose control of your environment when there are many users downloading stuff and changing elements in your site collections. Now, the best thing would be to let them manage their mess and clean it once in a while, but we both know they won't do it.
Make sure you keep an eye on what’s happening in your site collection; what gets in, the changes made, etc. This way, you can act quickly if a mess is starting to grow in one or many of your lists and libraries. Take some actions or ask one of your users to clean it before it gets out of control. By making sure everything is organized and clean, you take one step further towards making your users love SharePoint.
How to be able to proceed to an overall checkup of your environment without taking a huge amount of time doing it? There are third party tools like the SharePoint management tool of Sharegate that can really do the job perfectly without having you spending days and days manually supervising what's happening in all your site collections which is a really huge and time consuming task. You can even fix right away the issues that are messing things up in your SharePoint very quickly.
Build a good information architecture in SharePoint
I'm not a SharePoint expert, so I can't tell you how to build a good information architecture. However, as a power user, I can definitely tell you how much it's important for the user experience. If your architecture is logical and makes it easier to use the platform and understand where the content is located, you can definitely increase the positive emotions towards your environment. The opposite would definitely create frustration and discourage your users to use SharePoint.
What is the SharePoint information architecture? How content is shaped, organized and displayed in your SharePoint intranet or website.
This tip is related to the one before, since having a good architecture is also a best practice to make sure messes are not easily made. One of my colleagues wrote a great article on the information architecture in SharePoint which explains in more details what it is and gives you tips and tricks to help you build it.
Communication is the key to SharePoint adoption
If you want your users to adopt SharePoint, the best way is to ask them regularly what they like and what they don't about it. They live with it every day, so at some point they probably know what irritates them and what parts they would like to keep. To ask them also proves that you care and that you want the platform to be as good as possible for their usage.
There are many ways to ask your users about their experience with SharePoint. The one that I'd recommend is the online survey. It's very easy to build and then very quick to fill out. Don't expect a 100% rate of answers because you will be disappointed. However, the small amount of input you get might give you really good insights on how your users feel toward your SharePoint environment. You could also ask them in one on one meetings and make sure you get many answers, but this technique is very time consuming and you might get wrong data due to lack of privacy.
Have your SharePoint users fall in love with the platform
Ok, maybe your users won't "fall in love" with SharePoint even if you apply all these tips, but I'm sure they'll be more motivated to use it and maybe even like it.
This is a real story because what I told you here is what worked for me and other SharePoint users in my workplace. Like your users, I had my share of negative emotions towards SharePoint when I started working at my job. My opinion completely changed after a while and I hope you succeed in changing the attitude of your users towards SharePoint.
Do you have your own tips to share with everyone? What do YOU like about SharePoint? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section and maybe we will be able to create a Wave of Love for SharePoint!