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Sekar Thangavel

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Information Architecture with SharePoint – An Introduction

SharePoint Information Architecture is the art of organizing and it’s a science to labeling the content (documents, data, sites) to support findability and usability.

According to me, the key success to implement an effective enterprise SharePoint site is Information Architecture. A well-structured Information Architecture can increase the feasibility of SharePoint in your organization. Information Architecture is basically the way in which information such as the content of the site and documents are architected on a system.

It may also help with compliance regulations and site management.

As we all know Microsoft SharePoint transformed organizations towards a digital world. Considering that, now SharePoint allows you to work with content in any form such as text, documents, images, and videos. While adding and organizing these elements, it is important to understand the ways in which the content will be accessed and the users who will be accessing it.

A clean slate is a great place to start, but it’s typically unrealistic. When you are about to start the design of SharePoint Information architecture, you will not have a clean idea to define the structure. However, if you consider the below core elements, your ideas will get the flow. Then those ideas will be transformed as well designed information architecture.

  • Site and Site Collections Structures
  • Content Type & Navigation Definitions
  • Metadata and Taxonomy Management
  • Effective Utilization of Search Service
  • Security & Governance

To design a good information architecture, architect of the SharePoint should use the combination of the above pillars. You can choose any combination that works to present your content in the best manner possible.

Leaderboard_CDR

When designing a SharePoint Information Architecture, your design should support the below elements.

  • Simple & Scalable
  • Flexible (Incorporate different types of content with time)
  • Logical structure
  • Ease of Use

Let’s see how information architecture evolved with different numbers of SharePoint.

The histories are…

Information architecture with MOSS (SharePoint) 2007

In MOSS 2007, there was Enterprise Search – this helped to find the relevant information without much struggle i.e. without navigating through sitemaps or browsing site contents.

During those days we didn’t have much control if an organization had to go through a restructuring and/or business units. It might have created a lot of administrative tasks for site owners. Due to site navigation menus may get change/ customized search scopes may not help us to return correct indexed content.

Information architecture with SharePoint 2010

Microsoft started realizing this pain point and released SharePoint 2010. The introduced term store along with the concept of managed metadata navigation.

Managed metadata navigation provided a global navigation across the SharePoint site which made finding information easier.

The social features ‘Tags & Notes’ and ‘I like It’ button provided a way of notifying others how relevant or interesting a piece of information was.

Information architecture with SharePoint 2013/2016

With the recent versions of SharePoint (2013/2016), the added social features of ‘Share’ and ‘Follow’ enabled, users will have the ability to referring colleagues to information that is most relevant to them.

Even though the problem of “information overload” is not entirely resolved, the discovery of information is now much easier.

 

Sekar Thangavel

Written by Sekar Thangavel

Sekar is a certified Technical Architect having expertise in implementing large scale enterprise applications using .NET, SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Platforms. Currently engaged with a leading airline provider, he takes care of their SharePoint implementations.