The second session that I attended yesterday at the 2011 SharePoint conference was about managing the lifecycle of your website design (#SPC258). This session focused mostly on public-facing websites but had a lot of great content that was also applicable to Intranet site designs. The session was delivered by PJ Zargarzadeh, who is a TSP for Microsoft in Canada. PJ had a great presentation style that really lent itself well to this type of delivery.

Key Process Points

He focused on the key process points that are required for a good development, which I have outlined below:

  1. Planning
  2. Design Roadmap
  3. Build Roadmap

The thing  I liked the most about the session was the flow of the content that he presented. His first point was that you need to have a plan to implement anything. If you have no plan, then you have no idea how to measure your success. Your plan needs to be specific and include goals that can be measured. You need to start with this before you really move forward with any other steps.

Once the plan is in place, your focus will move to the design of the site. This will include items such as the information architecture, wireframes, design comps and functional prototypes. From here, the final part of the process is building the site. This is where you work with the team to build the actual product on the staging and production environments.

Social Design

In addition to the steps discussed above, PJ spent a good deal of time talking through the importance of the social design of the site. He made a clear distinction between using social integration features vs. having a social site. When discussing the integration features, he used the Facebook Developer tools as an example of how you could integrate specific items into your website.

For a social site, he used the example of Trip Advisor. With the Trip Advisor site, you can login with your credentials and then see information from your friends, which will create a customized travel site experience. While this site isn’t created in SharePoint, it is a great example of the concept PJ was presenting.

His point in showing these sites was to promote the idea that a social site needs to be designed from the beginning. Much work will likely be required, and it is not something that you can just add later if the site was designed with that in mind.

Importance of Search

Finally, one of the last items PJ discussed was the importance of search. He discussed a statistic that claimed that 80% of people who access websites start with the search components and ignore the navigation elements. Because of this, search should be one of the primary items you design for. This will start by making sure you have meaningful relevant content on the site. Once the content is on the site, you can use things such as relevant title names and information architecture to help ensure site findability.