SharePoint offers great functionality out of the box. I find that when I spend too much time looking at complex issues, I often forget the simple things that provide so much impact to my solutions.
Most of the time, these things are just little configurations that I can set that provide an extra layer of usability for my end users. I think it is good to take some time to remember all those basics, so here are some of the basics to remind you of the simple things, and to encourage you to try them out in your current solutions.
• Using InfoPath to Display a List Form on a Page: You can use this trick when you need a way to take the data within the list and display it in a nice clean format. An example would be if you want an easy way to display Project Data on the home page. The data is stored in a list, so it is easily edited, but it is displayed using the Form Web Part. Easy to read and easy to administrate. Two wins for your power users!
• Using the Calendar Overlay to Display Items Based on Category: If you need to quickly add color to an existing calendar, then Calendar Overlays are the way to go. You can do things such as color-code the items based on type or even based on due date. This trick would allow you to quickly display what tasks are late in red and anything due soon in yellow. By visually providing this information, you are helping get information quickly and in an easy-to-understand format to your users.
• Default List Styles: There are many different ways to style your list views using out-of-the-box functionality. Each different style provides a different type of formatting. By taking advantage of these styles, you can help provide data in a clear and meaningful format for your users.
• Create New Quick Steps & Custom Actions: One way that you can really help out your users is by making sure that they have all the information they need available to them right when they need it. By adding Quick Steps and Custom Actions, you can customize the Ribbon and the List Item drop-down and add links to the information they need. You can also use these to allow users to quickly start custom workflows. By taking the time to configure these items, you can really save your users a few clicks!
I know it’s easy to see these items and think how easy it would be to use them in a solution, but oftentimes by the time we get around to our solution, we seem to have forgotten all the tricks and tips we learned along the way. So I would like to encourage you to spend some time with each solution you build to really look at the solution and identify the simple things that you can implement that can provide value to your users. Sometimes the smallest and simplest changes can have the biggest impact!
Jennifer Mason is a consultant specializing in business user issues at SharePoint911, a Rackspace company.