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Jaime L贸pez
Jaime L贸pez

Posted on • Originally published at intranetfromthetrenches.substack.com

5 Must-Know SharePoint Best Practices (Part 2) Empowering Users with Effective Lists and Libraries

Welcome back, SharePoint enthusiasts! In our first issue of this series, we tackled the art of optimizing lists and libraries within SharePoint Online, 5 Must-Know SharePoint Best Practices (Part 1): Fine-Tuning Lists, Libraries, & Files for Efficiency.

Today's focus is specifically for creators and configurators of lists and libraries. Do you ever feel like your creations could be even more user-friendly? Perhaps you worry colleagues struggle to find the information they need, or your carefully crafted structures feel clunky.

5 Must-Know SharePoint Best Practices (Part 2) Empowering Users with Effective Lists and Libraries

If you create and configure SharePoint lists and libraries, this article is your roadmap to becoming a master organizer! By following these five simple tips, you'll transform your creations into streamlined resources that empower your colleagues.

Imagine this:

  • Crystal clear navigation: Users find exactly what they need, thanks to your intuitive naming conventions and folder structures.
  • Effortless searching: Important information surfaces effortlessly, saving everyone valuable time.
  • Boosted productivity: A well-organized SharePoint environment fosters collaboration and streamlines workflows.
  • The hero of the office: Colleagues praise your organizational skills and newfound SharePoint expertise!

Ready to unlock these benefits and become a SharePoint champion? Let's dive into the five essential tips that will elevate your creations from good to great!

Tip #1: Unleash the Power of Color-Coded Folders

Imagine a cluttered filing cabinet where every folder looks the same. Frustrating, right? The same goes for SharePoint lists and libraries. Thankfully, you can leverage the magic of color to make important folders stand out!

Here's how this tip empowers you:

  • Instant Recognition: A splash of color instantly draws the eye, helping users identify critical folders at a glance. No more time wasted sifting through endless generic folders.
  • Prioritization Made Easy: Use color strategically to highlight folders containing urgent information, frequently used resources, or ongoing projects. This visual cue guides users towards the content they need most.
  • Enhanced Clarity: Color can add a layer of organization, especially for large libraries with numerous folders. Categorize folders by department, project type, or urgency level using a color scheme that resonates with your organization.

Putting it into Practice:

Simply right-click on the desired folder, and explore the color options. Choose a color scheme that aligns with your organization's branding or create a custom system for easy identification.

Tip #2: Embrace the Power of Numbers: Sorting Made Simple

Ever spend time dragging and dropping folders into the "perfect" order, only to have it all jumbled after someone adds a new one? Numbers are your secret weapon for effortless sorting!

Here's how this tip empowers you:

  • Effortless Organization: By incorporating numbers into your folder names (e.g., "01 - Marketing Materials," "02 - Sales Reports"), you ensure folders appear in the desired order automatically. No more manual rearranging!
  • Intuitive Navigation: Users can instantly grasp the hierarchy and flow of information within your lists and libraries. Numbers provide a clear roadmap, guiding users to the specific folders they need.
  • Scalability Made Easy: Adding new folders becomes a breeze. Simply assign the next sequential number, and SharePoint automatically places it in the correct position. No more disrupting the carefully crafted order!

Putting it into Practice:

When creating a new folder, consider incorporating a numbering system into the name. Here are a few approaches:

  • Sequential Numbers: Use a simple numbering system (1, 2, 3, etc.) for a straightforward approach. This works well for flat folder structures.
  • Numbered Prefixes: For more complex structures, use a numbered prefix followed by a descriptive name (e.g., "01 - Marketing - Brochures," "02 - Sales - Q1 Reports"). This approach clarifies both the order and content category.

Remember, consistency is key! Choose a numbering system that works for your specific needs and stick to it for optimal organization.

Tip #3: Speak in Code: Clear and Concise Column Names

Columns are the building blocks of your SharePoint lists. They hold the data that drives your workflows and information sharing. But cryptic column names can create confusion. This tip empowers you to craft clear and concise column names that are easy to understand, even without spaces or special characters.

Here's how this tip empowers you:

  • Intuitive Data Entry: Users can easily grasp the purpose of each column and enter data accurately. No more guessing games about what information belongs where.
  • Enhanced Search Functionality: Descriptive column names act as filters within views and search results. Users can quickly locate relevant data based on keywords, streamlining information retrieval.
  • Reduced Errors: Clear column names minimize the risk of data entry errors, ensuring the integrity of your information within SharePoint.

Putting it into Practice:

While you can't use spaces or special characters in column names, here are some strategies for crafting clear and concise names:

  • Focus on Content: Instead of starting with a verb, prioritize describing the actual data the column holds. Examples include "DueDate," "EmployeeID," or "ProjectStatus." These terms directly tell users what information they need to enter.
  • Abbreviations Wisely: Use common abbreviations that your audience understands. For instance, "ETA" for Estimated Time of Arrival or "Dept" for Department.
  • Consistency is Key: Maintain a consistent naming convention across all your columns for a cohesive structure. This makes it easier for users to navigate and understand your SharePoint lists.

By following these guidelines, you'll transform your SharePoint lists into efficient data repositories that empower users to enter, access, and utilize information seamlessly.

Tip #4: Discretion is Key: Excluding Items from Search

Let's face it, not everything in your SharePoint needs to be public knowledge. Perhaps you have draft documents, internal communications, or confidential information. This tip empowers you to keep specific items hidden from search results.

Here's how this tip empowers you:

  • Reduced Clutter: Search results can become cluttered with irrelevant information. Excluding draft documents or outdated files ensures users only see the most current and relevant content.
  • Streamlined Navigation: A focused search experience empowers users to find what they need quickly and efficiently.

Putting it into Practice:

There is one way to exclude items from search results in SharePoint Online:

  • Library Level Exclusion: For entire libraries, you can disable search indexing at the library level. Navigate to the library settings, locate the "Search" section, and choose "No" for "Allow items from this document library to appear in SharePoint search results."

Important Note: Excluding items from search results doesn't equate to deletion. The content remains accessible to authorized users with the appropriate permissions.

Tip #5: Focus on What Matters: The Power of Views

Imagine a library overflowing with documents, all jumbled together. Finding specific information would be a nightmare! Thankfully, SharePoint Online offers a powerful tool called "Views" that allows you to tailor content to specific needs.

Here's how this tip empowers you:

  • Highlight Key Information: Create custom views that showcase the most important information for specific user groups. This ensures users see only the most relevant data, saving them valuable time and effort.
  • Filter Out the Noise: Leverage filters to exclude irrelevant information from specific views. This declutters the interface and allows users to focus on the content that matters most to them.
  • Prioritized Content: Utilize sorting options within views to prioritize critical information. Users can quickly identify the latest updates, high-priority tasks, or recently modified documents.

Putting it into Practice:

Creating custom views in SharePoint Online is a straightforward process. Here's a simplified breakdown:

  1. Navigate to your desired list or library.
  2. Click on the view name and select "Create a new view."
  3. Choose a view type (Calendar, List or Gallery) or customize an existing view.
  4. Utilize the available options to filter, sort, and group information according to your needs.
  5. Save your customized view for future use.

By creating a variety of focused views, you empower users to interact with SharePoint content in a way that aligns with their specific needs and tasks. This fosters a more efficient and productive work environment for everyone.

Conclusion

Imagine a SharePoint environment that feels effortless to navigate, where information is readily available at your fingertips. By implementing these five simple tips, you'll achieve exactly that. You'll transform your SharePoint creations into user-friendly resources that empower your colleagues in several ways:

  • Reduced Time Spent Searching: Clear structures and intuitive naming conventions minimize wasted time searching for information. Users can locate what they need quickly and efficiently.
  • Improved Collaboration: A well-organized SharePoint environment fosters seamless collaboration. Colleagues can easily share information, track progress on projects, and stay up-to-date on the latest developments.
  • Enhanced Productivity: Streamlined workflows and effortless access to information translate into a more productive work environment for everyone.

Now, let me share a perspective from my experience of over 20 years working with countless customers on SharePoint solutions. I've seen firsthand the transformative power of these seemingly simple organizational techniques. When users can find information quickly and collaborate effortlessly, it fosters a sense of ownership and engagement within the organization.

By following these tips, you'll not only become a SharePoint pro, but you'll also contribute to building a more efficient and collaborative work environment for your entire team. So, put these tips into practice and watch your SharePoint creations flourish!

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