When doing user acceptance testing of big SharePoint implementations, I’ve observed it can be quite hard for end users to orient themselves as they move around, particularly in Intranet and Document Management scenarios that make heavy use of libraries and lists.
As users click through from search results or leap from SharePoint site to library, to list, and back again following, navigation and other hyperlinks helpfully strewn about for them, they can easily become confused. Particularly if they find themselves tossed in and out of a range of libraries or lists.
List Views (which I confess I do love) can add another layer of potential bewilderment rather than clarity if we’re not careful – “huh, what just happened to ‘Modified By’? I’m sure I saw that a minute ago!”
Part of the problem seems to be that by default there is no visible, contextual heading immediately above the documents or items in the library or list. Depending on how the global and current navigation has been configured, and possibly how SharePoint has been branded, the surrounding cues don’t immediately assist users to establish their location and context.
So, for every shared, enterprise library/list I create, I strive to do the following:
- Land in the library/list and, once there, go to Site Actions > Edit Page
- When the page refreshes in edit mode, click on the arrow at the far right of the now boxed library or list to Edit Web Part
- From the web part panel, expand the Appearance section
- The library/list Title will appear in the appropriate labelled text box – you can change it if you like. I may leave it untouched for the default view, e.g. Documents Library. But if the surrounding navigation context to the library or list doesn’t orientate the user particularly well, then I will tweak it.
- From the Chrome Type drop-down menu, choose Title Only or Title and Border, as you wish (the default, Default is set to show nothing).
- Click OK
- Click Stop Editing in the page ribbon to save your changes and exit edit mode
If you have set up views in your list/library, repeat as follows:
- Back in the library/list, select a custom view you’ve created, and then select Site Actions > Edit Page. You are now going to be editing the custom view.
- This time, at the previous step 4, modify the Title to better explain the particulars of this view – for example, All Documents Grouped by Region or Recently Created Documents per Industry Sector.
Now your end users will see a clear, ideally explanatory heading immediately above the lists, libraries and views they land in, helping them to understand at a glance where they are and what information they’re looking at.