We’ve learned from our work with SharePoint for various medical devices clients that creating “pretty” functionality means thinking quite a long way past “Out of the box” and applying some “outside of the box” approaches. Content Formula have developed several good looking and interactive applications using a combination of Flash, JQuery and HTML/CSS. None of these required any SharePoint development, instead using standard SharePoint features and some creativity from our developers! Because of this, they cost our clients a lot less to develop than if we’d used the in-house development team.
This is just a little taste of the sort of things you can create with some good SharePoint knowledge, lateral thinking and just a dash of wizardry.
Interactive Q&A platform
Creating interaction on the intranet is one of the key points bought out in Nielsen’s 2010 report on the top 10 best intranets. It’s also one of the things our clients ask for again and again – how can we engage employees and start a two way conversation? As part of a project to provide a Q&A facility where employees could ask questions of their senior management we developed a widget for the site homepage which read questions from a custom list and then displayed them in a modified content query webpart.
Users could ask questions of their business leaders, see at a glance what other people were asking and visit a dedicated microsite where they could become part of the conversation.
Have a play!
Just click the images and the footer on our interactive mockup.
How we built this
1) Created a SharePoint custom list with the appropriate fields
2) Used SharePoint XSL stylesheet to customise the output of a Content Query webpart
3) Added some JQuery, CSS and Imagery to complete the transition!
SharePoint driven Flash dashboards
The second interesting project we’re working on is an interactive Flash dashboard which is driven by data placed in a SharePoint list. Normally, dashboards read data from XML documents, but without doing some ASP.net coding it’s hard to get SharePoint to let you have this. Instead we used SharePoint’s default RSS feed from the list, and then converted it to something Flash can use within the dashboard itself.
This enables sales managers and non-technical staff to update their sales dashboards right from within SharePoint without the need for IT staff or Content Formula to be involved.
Have a think about your SharePoint site – what could you be doing differently?