SharePoint Knowledge Base

Aug 02
Steps to Building an Online SharePoint Catalog of Resources

Let's says every one of your departments has lots of stuff to share with various audiences. They can be geographically dispersed or language based. So if you want to design system that will have the least management overhead your start with what is the best architecture.

So what is SharePoint information architecture?


Information architecture can be seen as a design. To implement it is all about governance. For some organizations, governance might come in the form of a document containing a set of processes, policies, and business rules. In the world of SharePoint, information architecture can generally be described as the structural design of information from the top level down including:

  • Master Pages, page layout pages – Master pages define the common layout and interface for SharePoint pages. The master page displays the persistent elements that you expect to see when you navigate from page to page on a site. These elements can include a company logo, title, navigation menu, search box, and footer. Page layout pages inherit the Master Page and define what web part zones will be available for this page.
  • Reusable Content - is a built in feature within SharePoint that is often overlooked. Simply put, this feature allows you to store pre-formatted html or text within a list and gives you the ability to reuse that content within any page content area within your site at the mere click of a button. Its great for banners or repeating page elements. For example, let's say you have manually added a news banner about an event to the page content area on numerous pages throughout your website. To make an update you would then have to go into each page and make the same tedious updates to every single disclaimer throughout your site. Depending on the size of your site, this could be a very daunting and time consuming task. The "Reusable Content" feature was designed for exactly this type of scenario to update anywhere throughout your site in the matter of seconds
  • Site Columns, Content Types, and Managed Metadata – Reusable structured content that maintain data consistency across your SharePoint system. Departments can create a document library with the Turkey Recipe as a document content type and a managed metadata site column called 'Recipe Type' which links back the term set 'Types of Recipes'.
  • Taxonomy Term Store, Term Sets, and Terms – To ensure there is a formal classification system, there are taxonomies based on the business function and activity. For example, in the HR (function) a term store there could be a term set called 'Type of Travel' (activity) with metadata such as domestic or international.
  • Documents Sets - In addition to being able to have metadata combined with folders, document sets have special and unique features that make them standout from other document management methods. Each Document Set gets its own page that displays folder-level metadata and allows to access the files inside of the folder (document set). You can set the Document Set such that any files uploaded to the Document Set (folder) will inherit the metadata from that folder.
  • Site Collections and Sites – This is where content is stored in a structured hierarchy. For example, your Human Resource business unit might have a site collection and each sub-team (Recruitment, Payroll, Work Health and Safety, etc.) might be provisioned its own team site. Within this structure you would find all information related to HR.
  • Another Perspective
    • Physical site hierarchy (site structure) serves content owners (users who own / upload the document / information)
    • Navigation structure serves content consumers (users who access the documents / information)


So lets have a goal of building HR a catalog of documents

  1. Tagged documents folders (which autotag documents placed into the folders)
  2. And custom search results page to make it friendly and fast to locate HR documents
  3. HR would not need to tag documents and can just drag them into folders using windows explorer to populate their area

Possible Methods

  1. Promoted links jazzed up
  • - Con - Fine for content that is not being reorganized lots. Your two columns of 14 links would work. Has serious limits for display formatting
  • - Pro – easy to do and change, add additional tiles
  1. List display Search results template (looks like promoted links but with more control over them)
  1. JSLinks
  • - Skip search entirely, best formatting
  • One list usually (use views); for libraries use folders
  1. filtering by XSLT
  • - Skip search entirely, best formatting
  • - works with many lists
  • - Possible performance issue
  1. Content query wp embedded in pages
  • - Performance can be a factor, decentralized and messy
  • - Easy to mod by admin
  1. Filtering and Sorting SharePoint List Views


The Catalog Solution

We used a custom search results page that has multiple refiners. The catalog was designed so that as people used refiner panels the secondary and tertiary choices would logically reflect what people were looking for. This provides what we call the Amazon shopping cart experience in that people can drill down to find what they need.

Additionally it also provides links to related resources so that people can have a great user experience. The best part is that it is easy for administrators to manage content and is driven by metadata so that it is centrally managed and easy to maintain.




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