In part 5 of our 8-part branding series, we zoom out of our micro-level site discussions and look macro at your overall SharePoint environment. In this article, we discuss the use of themes and how they can help you create a space for your users that aligns with your overall brand and encourages adoption.
In part 4 of our SharePoint Branding Series, we looked at Project Sites and how they are a more formal solution (as opposed to Team Sites) containing out-of-the-box tools built especially for project management. They are designed to help track project activity, prevent bottle-necking, and monitor milestones and progress.
In part 5 of our 8-part guide, we zoom out of our micro-level site discussions and look at the overall SharePoint environment. In this article, we discuss the use of themes and how they can help you create a space for your users that aligns with your overall brand and encourages user adoption.
3 Steps to Implementing a SharePoint Theme
You can easily change the look of your SharePoint site by applying a new theme to it. However, for the best results, we recommend taking a calculated approach.
Step #1 - Assess your Brand’s “Look and Feel”
As you start to consider a theme for your SharePoint site, it helps to determine what will make your users feel most comfortable. By referring to your established brand “look and feel” or style guide, you can create a place for them that will be immediately recognizable and will establish trust from the start. You can accomplish this by doing some key, up-front research:
● What are your brand colors? Whenever possible, try to incorporate the same color palette into your SharePoint environment.
● What personality do you want to portray? Fun and friendly, or modern and professional? Your brand might present itself one way to your customers, and you may want to go another route for your internal SharePoint environment. This can be done successfully, but you will need to make the decision beforehand and plan it out strategically.
● What fonts will you use? Normally there will be one or two designated fonts in a brand style guide, which you may want to leverage. Alternatively, if your SharePoint environment “personality” is more professional, you might choose to stick to a basic, simple font. Try not to go crazy with fonts. It’s okay to be unique and different, but the main goal should be choosing something large and readable.
With these answers in mind, you can begin planning out how you want your SharePoint site to look. The design will encompass everything you put onto the site, so be sure to take a measured and well-thought-out approach to deciding what that look will be as it grows. The theme of your site can impact how information is perceived by your users.
Of course, you will want to try to lean towards simplicity rather than making a statement. You can have both a navigable and beautiful SharePoint site, but you should never compromise usability for eye appeal. At the end of the day, function is going to govern how effective your SharePoint site is for your team.
Step #2 - Gather Stakeholder Input
Before you begin implementing your design, seek input from groups and key stakeholders who may have valuable insight. Like any new product implementation, it is important to do your due diligence and ask questions up-front. Your marketing team wouldn’t launch a new campaign without holding focus groups and the product team wouldn’t introduce a new product without testing it first. The same theory applies in this case.
Be sure to find out who your stakeholders are, meaning, who might have an interest in the success of your SharePoint environment? Marketing might be able to help connect your environment with the overall brand, Compliance may have requirements on specific language, etc. Who might be a “power user” and can offer a different viewpoint on usability or organizational needs? Who needs to be involved in which phase of the process? The feedback you will receive can be invaluable as you not only will be able to improve your initial design, but you will begin to generate interest, excitement and trust among future users.
Of course, seeking input from a multitude of users comes with the raw feedback, which can sometimes be hard to hear. Especially when it means you need to go back to the drawing board in certain areas – be prepared for this possibility. If you can’t reach a unanimous agreement, be willing to compromise. Remember that your goal is maximizing user adoption – it makes sense that the team members who are actually going to be using the platform should, ultimately, have the most say in how the SharePoint environment is presented.
Step #3 - Organize Strategically
Arguably even more important than the “look and feel” of your environment is the organizational structure of your SharePoint site design. Thinking about the color scheme, fonts, and “brand” personality will help your SharePoint site feel branded and uniform, but ensuring that users can find the content they need when they need it, is essential.
Your SharePoint site needs to be structured intuitively, so that any piece of information a user may be trying to locate can be found with ease. Of course, intuition is subjective and each organization has its own method of operation, so there is no one structure that will work for every situation. This is why it is so important to follow the first 2 steps in this article and gather that essential data. Take that information seriously and apply it to the branding of your SharePoint environment.