SharePoint Designer: friend or foe?

In all the time I have been involved with SharePoint 2010 the one area which causes the most discussion and raising of concerns is SharePoint Designer.  For those new to SharePoint 2010, SharePoint Designer is a fantastic/awful feature which helps/ruins the look and feel of pages and add/remove functionality.

As you can see by my use of language it can be a fantastic feature that can help people to innovate or can cause anger and frustration if used differently and causes problems with the user experience.

To quote Microsoft “Using SharePoint Designer, you can rapidly create SharePoint solutions in response to business needs. Compose no-code solutions that encompass a variety of common scenarios, from collaborative sites and web publishing to Line-Of-Business data integration, business intelligence solutions, and human workflows, all leveraging the building blocks available in SharePoint in an easy to use environment. Developers can use SharePoint Designer 2010 to get a quick start on SharePoint development projects.”

And that’s the challenge because SharePoint Designer can be great when used in line with business needs but can be a nightmare if used by someone who maybe isn’t aware of even worse, doesn’t care, what impact using it has.

So is SharePoint Designer a friend or a for you?  Well, it can be both or either really!  It is how you choose to use it on your intranet.

If you have a culture that has a loose governance and your organisation is strong on innovating then you will probably see SharePoint Designer as a great tool which helps you to make big changes using this technology that help improve effectiveness.

If you have a very controlled environment where your organisation seeks permission before trying something new/different then allowing people to use SharePoint Designer will be an anathema to how you want your intranet to progress and be managed.

In reality most organisations will have an intranet that is managed somewhere between these two examples.  What you need to do with SharePoint Designer is no different to how you approach any technology used on your intranet.

  • What are the benefits of people using it?
  • What are the risks of people using it?
  • How can you manage it?
  • How does it fit with your intranet strategy and plans?

When you have answered these questions you will be in a better place to know whether SharePoint Designer is a friend or foe!

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