The primary thing to consider in terms of UX when using SharePoint:
That's about it. It's a beast and horrific at most tasks. It does excel at a few tasks, but content management is definitely not one of them and building custom interfaces to accommodate better UX is not a priority of the software toolset.
The only reasons to ever pick SharePoint as an intranet framework are:
- the primary toolset will be team-sites with the primary objective of sharing and storing MS Office documents.
- management bought it and is telling you to use it because, afterall, they just paid 6 figures for the license and don't want to look like the idiots they are.
The only reasons to ever pick SharePoint as an public facing web site are:
- I'm stumped. I can't think of any good reason to ever subject the general public--especially customers--to a SharePoint built site.
My from-the-trenches experience:
I became a SharePoint site/server admin for about a year when the org I was with at the time brought in MS Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS). The CMS I had built 6 years prior was, admittedly, long in the tooth and we definitely wanted something more robust for the new intranet project. And Management had already purchased MOSS, so, there you go. It's what we have to use.
In terms of getting the server farm set up, it was a nightmare of meetings with Senior On-site MS support staff. That, alone, should have been the biggest red flag ever, but we continued to plow through.
My job was to build out the new CMS within SharePoint using a new UI/site architecture designed by a 3rd party ad/design firm.
It took me 6 months of trying to do what is normally trivial things inside of SharePoint. We brought in a great consulting firm that hand-held my attempts. EVERY single interaction with this firm went like this:
I need to [insert some simple task like create a vertical layout for a menu]
well, you can't do that but here's a hack/workaround/duct tape solution.
After 6 months, I was proud that I had beat SharePoint into submission and I actually got the UI to look like the one the agency had given us. It was, of course, fragile, and basically hacks on top of hacks. The site was also insanely bloated, no web standards, and slow, but that was besides the point.
Then came training. I spent two days getting relatively computer-literate staff up to speed on the MOSS CMS workflow. Why only two days? Well, after two days staff revolted, went to management and insisted we scrap SharePoint and go back to the CMS I had built some 6 years earlier as it was 'easy to use'.
I had to agree with staff.
The lessons I learned is that SharePoint is a standard due to MS's ability to get into the IT departments of large organizations. It's not going anywhere. IF you have to use it:
- hire UI designers that know SharePoint
- don't design a custom UI. Modify existing SharePoint templates.
- realize that SharePoint, at it's core, just makes list of things. Every feature builds upon this list concept.
- Most of the features are features in name-only. (It's not a real CMS...it's Wiki is not a real wiki...it's discussion groups are nothing like normal web forums, etc.)
- To truly customize SharePoint you need to be a .net developer--and not even just a .net developer. You really need to be a .net SharePoint developer. Very few UI/UX folks want to focus solely on that niche (even though it is in demand and pays well ;)