In 2002, Microsoft started to build their web content management (WCM) capabilities by acquiring a company called nCompass.

The nCompass Content Management System (CMS) became the foundation for SharePoint’s WCM features. Each SharePoint release increased the WCM features available, and the product has gradually evolved into SharePoint 2013.

SharePoint 2013 offers companies the opportunity to consolidate their web infrastructure (public-facing website, customer extranet, and company intranet) onto one platform, adding great value to the total cost of ownership. That being said, starting any Microsoft SharePoint project can be a daunting task, especially when it is a corporate website. By definition, it is a high-profile project.

If you are thinking about using SharePoint for a Web CMS, remembering some basic principles will ensure your project is a success.

80/20 Rule

Website projects should be about generating revenues, raising product and service awareness, connecting with customers and elevating brands. Questions such as “Can SharePoint do that?” should not be part of the conversation. It is not about how you can fit a website around SharePoint (or any Web CMS platform for that matter). While clearly there has been an investment in a platform with an expectation of ROI, there should be a healthy balance between technology and delivering an experience that meets your business objectives.

As a rule of thumb, DocPoint Solutions discusses the business requirements and business value 80% of the time and the SharePoint/technology 20% of the time. We believe business objective should drive technology. So, we focus on these objectives in  the initial requirements stage of every SharePoint website project.

Out of the Box Won’t Do

SharePoint can be deployed out-of-the-box in some scenarios involving document management, light project management or basic intranet sites. Out-of-the-box will not work for a public-facing website. First, such a project involves a great deal of customization. Second, the website will use the core platform services that SharePoint provides, including the publishing infrastructure, plus it will require both the foundation and hooks upon which the website will be built.

SharePoint 2013 includes these new features:

  • Ability to copy content from Word to the Rich Text Editor easily
  • Ability to work with video content easily
  • Improved ability to show dynamic content from other websites
  • Improved image rendition support that allows the same image to be displayed in different sizes across the site
  • Improved support for multi-lingual sites
  • Ability to maintain content in one or more authoring areas and display it in publishing areas easily
  • Improved navigation capabilities allowing complex menu creation
  • Ability to aggregate content using category pages
  • Friendly URLs that enable end users to navigate the site easily
  • Ability to use refiners and faceted navigation
  • Analytics and recommendations
  • Branding
  • Device-specific targeting

In Summary

Anyone about to embark on a SharePoint Web CMS project should know that it is not possible to switch on SharePoint out-of-the-box and build a highly engaging website. The same holds true for practically every Web CMS platform.

The success of most web projects ultimately will rest on the people working on the effort and their drive, innovation and enthusiasm. It is not a matter of the underlying technology. DocPoint Solutions employs some of the most experienced professionals in the SharePoint field. We can structure the right team of individuals for your project — project manager, analyst, graphic designers, SharePoint architect and developers — and ensure that the final website represents your organization and your product appropriately.