Building a teamsite: Planning

Team sites are a fantastic tool offered by Sharepoint that give you a place to share information, manage documents and collaborate with colleagues. The point of a team site is to create an area for you and your team—a virtual office space where you can access the files you need, get updates on important tasks easily, and feel you’re in touch with the business. Team sites can also be used as a great way to open up communication between your department and the wider business.

The biggest problem with team sites is that they are often created without any planning beforehand or clear vision of how they should be used. They also neglect key element of web design and user experience principals – resulting in a very dull and clunky experience for users and ultimately them not returning to use the site.

Over this blog series, we hope to help you overcome these issues by giving you the tools and knowledge to create SharePoint team sites, that are not only much simpler to use, but are much more engaging for users.

Planning your Team site

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”

As with any project you might do at work, or task that you need to complete as part of your home life, it is always important to have the end goal in mind, and a clear plan of how you are going to get there. Designing a team site on Sharepoint is no different, so the first thing you should do is create a high level plan for the type of site that you are building, the content it will contain, and a clear vision of how you would like it to be used.

Questions to consider:

What is the purpose of your site?

The purpose of a site not only determines the type of content the site will host, but also dictates the overall look and feel. For example, if you decide to build a site that will be used to showcase a department to the rest of the business, you will most likely want to adopt a friendly tone of voice and include lots of colour icons and images. Whereas, a site designed to keep track of project documents should concentrate on a design that helps people quickly find documents.

Who is your audience?

The intended target audience of your team site will help dictate the overall tone your team site and help you decided an appropriate look and feel – In the same way that you might word an email to your CEO very differently than to a friend or colleague.

What type of content will the site host?

Whilst planning your site, it is important to identify all the different types of content that is likely to be added to the site so that you can include the relevent tools and libraries. For example, if you would like to share videos and images, you will need to include a Media Library or section to host them in your site structure. In Sharepoint you will often find multiple ways of storing and/or displaying different types of content, so an additional thing to think about is which apprich is best to take.

A few questions to help you decide are:

How often will the information/data be updated and by whom? (if content is going to be static, it may be best for you to just add text directly in a wiki page, however if it will change often you may want to have the data list driven, making it easier to update)

How will people be interacting with the information/data? (A advantage of converting data into a Sharepoint list is the ability to interact with it in advanced ways, such as setting alerts, creating views and adding workflows)

​Here are some addtioanal tips for planning what content to include on your team site:

  • Brainstorm – It’s always extremely useful to get input from key people in your department or group and write down their suggestions.
  • Arrange & Prioritise – After you have brainstormed content, ask yourself, what areas are most important in supporting your ultimate site goals and objectives? Or better yet, how do your website goals map to your departments business goals?
  • Make a visual flow chart – Use an organization flow chart model, or boxes with lines that link to sub categories. Or use a traditional outline format that is purely text-based.
  • Write and finalise your content – Don’t let the technology stop you from getting started working on your content, you often find writing content helps identify missing section of a team site. Many people get started with a simple Word document.

In the next addition of this blog series, we will look at the next step of planning your site – deciding on site structure. Will you split your content into different sub sites, each with their own libraries and pages. Or will you keep everything in a single site but split content in to libraries and folders?