Akumina wants to make business users love Microsoft SharePoint as much as IT teams.

The Nashua, N.H.-based digital marketing and web solutions company continues that mission today with the release of its next generation SharePoint Apps and Web Parts — solutions CEO Ed Rogers said will enhance the SharePoint user experience.

"There's a gap between the platform and the business user. What we're delivering are solutions that bridge that gap," Rogers told CMSWire.

What Rogers is referencing is the latest evolution of InterChange, a suite of role-based authoring and site management tools designed to give marketing teams control over SharePoint sites.

Released in beta early last year, Akumina is announcing several new capabilities today, just in time for Microsoft's Ignite conference in Chicago.

The CMS You Already Own

Four-year-old Akumina is led by Rogers and COO Steve Sherkanowski, both veterans of Ektron. Rogers was a co-founder and former Ektron COO, and Sherkanowski was Ektron’s former vice president of marketing.

They think Microsoft SharePoint has a lot going for it … despite the fact that non-technical types tend to complain it's not the easiest product to use.

In fact, they describe SharePoint as a viable alternative to other content management systems (CMS) — and even advise potential clients to "Take another look at the Web CMS you already own."

Rogers said Akumina provides a "thin layer on top of Microsoft technology."

With InterChange, casual content authors no longer need to 'learn SharePoint' or understand the underlying information architecture of their site to create and manage content. It puts an easier-to-use, friendlier interface on top of good old SharePoint, Rogers said.

Apps and Web Parts

To make SharePoint less intimidating for content authors, information workers and site managers, InterChange offers several apps.

"With these apps, you can accomplish specific tasks without any exposure to the SharePoint user interface," Rogers said.

There are three kinds:

  • Content Apps: Help manage content in any SharePoint list or library
  • Control Apps: Allows for the creation and management of instruction sets to change functionality on SharePoint sites
  • Admin Apps: Allow developers and administrators to do tasks like create the instruction lists used to manage the properties of InterChange Web Parts with Control Apps

In addition, the InterChange user experience framework can be used to create specialized SharePoint Web Parts (InterChange Web Parts). These allow web developers and SharePoint architects to customize user experiences, Rogers said. "Think of them like Lego blocks. We are creating a loosely coupled system, that users can modify to create the specific experience they want," he said.

The source code for InterChange Web Parts is accessible to developers, he explained. They are built with responsive web design and "are easy to deploy and extend," he added.

At Ignite, Akumina will showcase several InterChange Web Parts, including its:

  • Document Library – Allows for the creation, sharing and collaboration on SharePoint-managed documents
  • HTML Banner – An easy to manage image banner to highlight key content
  • Discussion Board – Collaborate on projects and share status updates

You can learn more about InterChange in this 90-second video.