Gather ye rosebuds:
Now, it’s time to get all of the technical bits lined up. We’re going to sure up all of our “Information Lists” and document each one. While it’s a good idea to keep all of these documents in one place, they certainly serve a purpose individually. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep each of these lists in its own, unique file.
Here are your Information Lists:
On March, 14th, I posted “Create Audiences”, which brought you the finer points on how to bread down your user community into audiences. Keep a list of all of the audiences you created. In this list, highlight all of the audiences that you intend to create in SharePoint. Included in this list should be the rules you created for audience creation. You will need these when you go to build out your portal.
Create profile pages (like address or ID cards). These will be used in a variety of ways, including:
- Identifying users (in general)
- Validating users in workflows and/or forms
- User assignment in workflow and/or forms
- Populating workflow form fields
- Company Directories
- Social Networking
- People Search
If you just like to make ‘em pretty, you can choose to do a “Persona Page”, which would include a photo and all of your personal information, you can certainly do that. However, a simple list of property names will do fine. You’ll use LDAP Queries to import the users into SharePoint from Active Directory later.
By now, you should have a well-formed list of Categories. This would be derived from a variety of sources, including:
- User Survey – “Things” list.
- Card Sorting Exercises – the best source
- Committee meetings
- User Interviews
Categories can be based on any or all of the following (Feel free to use combinations where they are applicable to your business):
- People Groups
- Work Tasks
- Job Roles/Functions
We didn’t mention much about Meta-data yet, so I’ll give a quick definition. Metadata is “data about data”, or “properties” of a piece of data. In other words, if the piece of data in question is a Word document, for example, it’s metadata may include things like:
- Document title
- Date Created
More updated “social” content uses metadata as well, but they use it in the form of “tags” as was described in our taxonomy/folksonomy discussion.
Metadata is important because it enables you to classify your individual files. This can be beneficial in numerous ways. “Findability” is probably the biggest reason for thoroughly documenting your metadata strategy (and maintaining it through Governance). Metadata allows you to classify, store, present, and retrieve content in a way that is contextually relevant to your scenario. For example, if you were looking for a document on your Corporate Portal search about how to file an expense report, you might query on “how to file expense report”.
Each word in this search would be taken in “context” first. That means you would find “How to” articles,” Expense Reports”, and any combination of the two. The more these words appear in your content, the higher on the results list they will be for your query.
We will cover search in much greater detail after The PORTAL Method series.
Content Types in SharePoint 2007 are basically templates with Metadata already attached. Like a template, they are a repeatable document type (such as Expense Report, Direct Deposit Form, or PTO request Form). Additionally, these “templates” can be further classified to include metadata that is “pre-configured”, so that the documents created from these Content Types would automatically be classified with other, like documents.
In SharePoint, you can attach content types to Document and Form Libraries, so that any documents created in these libraries would inherit the metadata properties by default. This is a great way to ensure consistency, predictability, and “findability” across your portal.
Final Site Elements list (Scope for Phase 1)
From your End User Surveys, Shadowing, Interviewing, and committee meeting “smack-downs”, you should have, eventually, arrived at a “final” list of WebParts that you intend to include on the Portal Landing Page, as well as each Departmental Portal/Team Page. NOTE: They should be two, separate lists – one list for the Corporate Portal Landing Page, and another list for your Departmental/Team Landing Pages.
This list doesn’t have to be complicated. They can look just like this:
- Announcements – Audience Targeted Memos, etc.
- News – Company Wide (Press Releases, new hires, re-orgs, etc)
- News – Audience Targeted
- Departments links list
- Calendar – PTO and/or Company Holidays
- World Clock widget
- Weather/Traffic widget
- Directions / Maps
- “I Need To” list – Shortcuts to most common features, like:
- Create Expense Reports
- File a complaint
- Nominate someone for an award
- Order business cards
- Order office supplies
- Book travel
- Book conference rooms
- Workflows – links
- Links List
- Stock Ticker widget
Also, you’ll want to have a prototype image of your Landing Page mockups that include each of these WebParts and how you will position them on the page. You can include your Wireframe drawings, if applicable, or just use your “pretty” prototype. Your choice.
Just a side note: There are “fancy” ways of doing all of this, that MVP’s or other Professional Consultants may recommend. You can certainly go that route if you have the time and money to do so. I’m offering the above as a more “scaled down” approach that will still enable you to deploy a best-practice portal solution.