As my department moves toward establishing an internal intranet site using SharePoint, I took interest in Jakob Nielsen’s recent Alertbox article: Does SharePoint Destroy Intranet Design?
Luckily the conclusion was it does not destroy design… if done correctly.
Even if you aren’t currently in the midst of designing a SharePoint site, or an internal department site, there are take-aways for anyone who is using a content editor with widgets and feeds. Creating a site has become so simple and filled with optional components that we must be careful to not overdo it. We must always keep user design principles in mind. Jakob Nielsen says:
In fact, the easier it gets to build the intranet’s basic infrastructure, the more important it becomes to populate it with the most useful features possible and to create efficient user interfaces for those features. Intranets of the future might require less programming work, but they’ll surely need even more user experience work.
You can have hundreds of widgets, plug-ins, content pieces at your disposal, but you should limit yourself focusing on the end user. The end user you are designing for depends on the their culture and the specific needs they have when visiting your web site. There is no one size fits all and you need to know your audience in order to serve them properly.