Just how much customization does SharePoint need?

In this month’s IBF live broadcast, experts debated whether it’s OK to run Microsoft’s collaboration platform ‘out of the box.’

What’s the key to winning one of the biggest intranet design competitions in the world? If you’re using Microsoft’s SharePoint collaboration platform, one big factor is getting the software to work for your company’s culture, Amy Schade, director of user experience for the Nielsen Norman Group told Internet Benchmarking Forum subscribers on this month’s IBF Live broadcast.

Many winners of Nielsen Norman’s Design Annual Competition are examples of “making SharePoint do what you want it to do,” she said. SharePoint is “a starting point rather than an endpoint.”

Does that mean you have to load SharePoint down with third-party applications? It depends. IBF CEO and founder Paul Miller observed that Duke Energy was a winner last year, basically using SharePoint “out of the box.”

Bert Sandie, director of technical excellence at Electronic Arts’ EA University, said a great intranet “should look like one thing,” even with third-party apps. It ought to look like tools people use at home, such as Facebook and Flickr.

IBF Live co-host Paul Levy observed, “SharePoint out of the box doesn’t lend itself to that experience.” But Sandie said it doesn’t take very much work. At EA, one developer works on customizing SharePoint, he said.

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