“I just want to create a form and add it to a page. Why is it so difficult to do that in SharePoint?”
– Many SharePoint users
SharePoint is a fantastic product! I truly believe in that! And before you get into a fit and start furiously typing away to educate me on how SharePoint is far from great, just take a moment to breed in and relax. Yes, you are right, the product has its flaws. All products have their weaknesses. Yes, I know, it is not user-friendly, lacks the obvious type of functionality that we all wish should be present. Yes, it would be awesome to be able to:
click on a button to save a page to PDF
create dashboards with content from different sites
change the design of a site easily with a click of a button
add a simple form into a page to collect feedback from your employees
Why can´t we have the joy of doing these simple things? Allow me to explain why SharePoint lacks that functionality. Ready? Here goes:
SharePoint is not a website builder!
The reason you think you can use it as an ordinary website builder is that everything you do in SharePoint “feels” like a website. To start with you access SharePoint with a browser. You click on links to navigate from page to page. Sometimes you click on a button to save something that you added or updated. Everywhere you navigate to “feels” like you are using a normal website or maybe even reading a blog. Sometimes it seems that you are using something like Dropbox or google docs when you are working with files isn´t it? Then to add to your confusion, suddenly you see the button “+ Create site”. But wait a minute, create a site? But, isn´t SharePoint already a site? Short answer: Yes, it is. One of the features of SharePoint is to allow you to create sites. As many as you want, for free! However, this is where it all starts to get a bit complicated though. But don’t get strung up on that concept for now. I will explain that concept later on for you. For now, accept that SharePoint allows you to create sites. There are many more features that you can use in each site or SharePoint as a whole. You probably heard of document libraries and Lists. What about Content-types? Metadata? How about my favorite: Taxonomy? Do you recognize yourself in the image below?
Yes, SharePoint offers so many features that it is easy to get lost and confused, especially for people that have the mindset that SharePoint is just another website builder or only another CMS. The point is, with SharePoint you can do way much more with the out of the box features compared to a typical website builder like WordPress or Drupal. It’s even nonsense to compare these products since they are very different and use different concepts. It´s as simple as that. SharePoint is not an ordinary website builder. That is why many of the features that you can easily do with other known products in the market are not present in SharePoint. It is just not meant for that. If you would like to have a feature like that, you must develop it, have someone develop it for you or use an add-in from a third-party company that specializes in SharePoint add-ins, like with any other product or SAAS.
I think you get an idea of what SharePoint isn´t at this point. Which is a great mindset to understand What is SharePoint after all. But in the meantime, let´s take a minute and be honest with each other.
SharePoint is meant to be the central product for your business. Even as being part of office 365, SharePoint is where all content is going to end up like it or not. It is where files are saved, edited, shared and where content flows between people in any organization. It is an open canvas with some pre-defined functionality that you can use right away.
You can turn your business into a powerhouse of productivity or run that small project where everybody can share files, content, follow the progress easily and know the tasks they need to do at every step of the project without complex meetings or emails sent back and forth. However, if you want to reach that level of productivity all by yourself, then accept that it will require a steep learning curve. You will need to put aside loads of time to read articles on how to do things, make lots of mistakes while implementing your ideas and deal with a reasonable amount of frustration and tears because the road is bumpy. Pretty much like when you are using any other IT product that you have no idea how it works. The other side of the coin is that you can hire an expert to configure SharePoint according to your needs or even build solutions for you in a fraction of time so that you keep focused on what matters. Achieving Your Goals!
Until next time