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How to Plan and Design Your SharePoint Site for Optimal Functionality

As an Albuquerque-based Managed IT Service Provider, we understand the importance of a well-designed SharePoint site for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs). SharePoint is an essential tool for collaborating and sharing information within a company, and it can be customized to meet specific business needs. However, creating a SharePoint site from scratch can be challenging, especially if you don't know where to start.

In this article, we will provide you with essential guidelines for planning and designing your SharePoint site for optimal functionality. But first...


Pro SharePoint Tips From Kosh Solutions

Somethings to look out for are listed below. Here is a link to the official Microsoft documentation for more details.

  • Length of path limitation – 400 Characters

  • Invalid characters

  • 5000 items per document library

  • One Drive is a subset of SharePoint

  • OneDrive is for an end user's personal information. Think of OneDrive as a person’s "my documents"…. Its only for them.

  • SharePoint is for company shared information. Think of SharePoint as a network share, multiple people have access based on permissions set on a management level.

  • To take advantage of SharePoint advanced document features they must be XML format (.docx not .doc, .xlsx not .xls)

  • If not in XML format, documents cannot be modified in a web browser. The document would have to be downloaded > modified > reuploaded.

  • PDF files cannot be edited in the browser, they must be downloaded > modified > reuploaded.

  • One work around is syncing with OneDrive.

  • Databases

  • SharePoint is not for databases and therefore database files like QuickBooks, Access, PST, OST files should not be stored or used while in SharePoint or OneDrive.

  • Sync

  • The majority of information in SharePoint should be accessed via a web browser instead of synced with a local machine. The more information that is synced the higher chance of:

  • Multiple versions

  • Sync conflicts

  • Slow network

  • Slow computer

  • Usage of local hard drive space


Okay, back to the overview of SharePoint creation.

Understand Your Business Requirements

Before you start designing your SharePoint site, you must understand your business requirements. Knowing what you need will help you create a site that works for your business. Some things to consider include:

  • What are your business goals?

  • What are your team's objectives?

  • What are the critical processes in your business?

  • What is the structure of your company?

  • How do you expect your staff to use SharePoint?

By answering these questions, you can begin to identify the features and functionality that your SharePoint site will need to meet your business needs.

Here are some examples of business objectives that your SharePoint site could support:

  • Document management: Your SharePoint site could be used to store and manage documents, making it easier for employees to collaborate on projects and access the information they need.

  • Project management: SharePoint can be used to create project sites where teams can collaborate on tasks, track progress, and share documents.

  • Knowledge management: Your SharePoint site could be used to store and share knowledge within your organization, allowing employees to access information easily and quickly.

  • Intranet: SharePoint can be used to create an internal company portal that provides employees with access to company news, resources, and information.

Plan Your Site Architecture

After identifying your business objectives, the next step is to define your site's architecture. SharePoint is a hierarchical system, and it's essential to plan your site architecture before creating any content. A well-designed site architecture can help you organize and manage your content more effectively. Some things to consider when planning your site architecture include:

  • What is the hierarchy of your site? Consider using a hierarchical structure, with a clear top-level site that contains subsites, libraries, and lists.

  • How many sites and subsites will you need?

  • What are the different site templates that you will use?

  • How will you organize your content within each site and subsite?

Kosh recommends literally getting out a sheet of paper and start drawing the architecture of your SharePoint out. This will help you visualize where files, sites, teams, will be and how they will interact.

Here are some tips for defining your site architecture:

  • Start with a clear top-level site that serves as the main hub for your SharePoint site. This site should contain links to subsites, lists, and libraries.

  • Organize your subsites, libraries, and lists in a logical and intuitive way. For example, if you're creating a project management site, you could create a subsite for each project and organize the lists and libraries within each subsite accordingly.

  • Use descriptive names for your subsites, lists, and libraries to make it easy for users to find what they're looking for.

  • It may help to create a "style sheet" for your planning. The style sheet will help keep naming straight and naming conventions clear.

Determine Your Site Permissions

Permissions are an essential part of any SharePoint site, and it's important to define them early in the planning process. Permissions determine who can access, view, and edit the content on your site. Some things to consider when determining your site permissions include:

  • Who needs access to your site?

  • What level of access do they need?

  • What content should be restricted, and to whom?

On your architecture sketch you can now include staff names or departments that would need access to certain files and areas within SharePoint. For example, HR and Finance should have strict permissions compared to Marketing.