A successful SharePoint environment is one that has users, and those users need to be engaged in order to ensure future adoption rates. We look at 8 features that are available to enhance your user experience and help offer a comprehensive solution.
We know from our past blog post that the three essential ways to increase your user adoption are: to brand your site and make it familiar to your users, to keep it clean and simple so they can easily find the information they need and to invest serious time in proper training. You can spend countless hours migrating your system and creating the best SharePoint environment for your company, but if nobody uses the platform, it will be all for naught.
You might look at the data and see that users have visited but aren’t coming back. Or maybe they use it for certain purposes, but are using alternative external solutions in addition to what you’ve built. Either way, your user adoption rate will suffer and you SharePoint environment won’t be used to its full capacity. So how can you make sure your users engage and interact with SharePoint to the level you would like? Several features are available to enhance your user experience and help offer a comprehensive solution, we review 8 of them below:
8 Features that Increase SharePoint User Adoption Rates
- Versioning - Track your information and data as it evolves. Enabling this feature in your site lists or libraries means that your users can recover earlier versions as needed. It also means that edits to documents are stored for safekeeping. Sometimes policies changes and you suddenly need to reference how things were done in the past. With versioning, that information is available and easily accessible. This not only makes life easier for your users, but also your compliance and/or legal departments.
- Real-time collaboration - Allow your users to work on a document, at any time, without affecting each other’s work. Users can view the same information and make live updates or edits within that document. This immediately reduces confusion and misunderstanding by ensuring those who have access are seeing the most up-to-date version, plus it reduces overhead requirements since it bypasses the need for additional administrative resources.
- Spreadsheet to list conversion – Excel spreadsheets are widely used by all organizations to share and collect information. While Excel does a great job of collecting and organizing, collaborating with Excel can become cumbersome. Users have difficulty keeping up with the latest version of the spreadsheet. SharePoint allows content administrators the ability to import the excel file as a list and make it accessible by multiple users. Once imported as a list, admins can secure the access to the list, share it with authorized users, and track changes to the list as content is added or changed.
- Windows Explorer and OneDrive sync- This feature allows your users to download a OneDrive client to your devices and instantly sync to your SharePoint environment. They benefit from a seamless flow into the new environment that helps them acclimate with minimal disruption and confusion. They can drag, drop, save and open documents from Windows Explorer and benefit from an automatic save and update to the SharePoint environment.
- Metadata tagging – Tagging is a very old mechanism used to increase the findability of content.   Users are accustomed to storing content in folders for organization and easy access. While this has worked in the past, industry experts have not found this to be a feasible solution for the scaling by which data is created. SharePoint users are able to find content more easily and quicker while searching the tags instead of going through nested folders.
- Wiki Pages - Microsoft defines a wiki as “a site that is designed for groups of people to quickly capture and share ideas by creating simple pages and linking them together”. There a countless ways that a wiki can be leveraged within your SharePoint environment - you might build one that includes all company policies and procedures, or one that acts as a library of all materials for reference. They are simple to set up and are meant to as informational pages.
- Newsfeed - One of the user-friendly features within SharePoint is the Newsfeed. Your users stay up-to-speed with the latest details about their teams, sites, portals and projects - all in one spot. Information comes in like a Twitter feed and users can tag each other to make sure updates are sent to the right person. Interactions can take place within the feed, which means your user doesn’t have to jump around between various sites.
- Promoted links - Also commonly referred to as “tiles”, promoted links are a more visual and user-friendly way of linking to URLS for easy access to certain functions or locations. You can develop icons to represent certain departments (i.e. a dollar sign for accounting, a computer for IT, etc.) that are easily recognizable to your users and help them quickly identify the information they are looking for. Essentially, it’s a way to brand your internal environment and make links more engaging.
A successful intranet is one that has users, and those users need to be engaged in order to ensure future adoption rates. Always look at your environment from the perspective of your users and try to implement features that will enhance their productivity. They will thank you without even knowing it - by using the platform!