How to plan the branding of your SharePoint site
March 12, 2009
So you have a SharePoint site (or you’re about to release one). You want to have your company’s colors and branding scheme applied to your site. Where do you start?
Recommendation #1 – Training. Do not send your poor hapless Graphic Designer to SharePoint Designer class. Just because it has “Designer” in the title, doesn’t mean that it will give your designer the tools required to brand a SharePoint site. Instead, send your designer to a basic SharePoint class first. Get them familiar with SharePoint. After they’re familiar with SharePoint in general, get them familiar with YOUR requirements. If you can find a class in your area for branding SharePoint, send them there next. When I find a book on branding SharePoint that I can truly recommend, I’ll post immediately.
Recommendation #2 – Create wireframes. Write out your specifications. Go through each possible iteration of your page to see what you’ll need to cover. If you haven’t done this yet (and it’s surprising how few actually do), you’ll be surprised at just how many pages will be involved.
Recommendation #3 – Prioritize. Find out what you really need branded. Calendars and search controls can be nasty (to brand), so perhaps a simple color change will be sufficient, rather than overhauling the whole thing. If you hardly ever use the calendar view of events, then perhaps postpone its overhaul and stick with a plain list view for now.
Recommendation #4 – Think about your content editors. You’re going to the trouble of branding your site, so make sure that it keeps that consistent look and feel throughout. While Chuck in Accounting thinks lime green text with a red border is attractive, it might not fit with your site. With MOSS WCM, you can control the editing tools and styles that are available. If your content editors are not HTML savvy, then that might impact how you will implement. For example, a Content Editor Web Part might be too complex for some individuals, so then you might think about enabling publishing features to allow users to edit content right on the page.
Recommendation #5 – Plan your deployment. Get the developers involved. Find out how they want to deploy any customizations. If at all possible, tie in your deployment with theirs. Plan so that when you need to change your styles (taglines change, things are missed), it can be done as easily as possible. For example, updating a theme file (even an image) requires an iisreset, then reapplying it is less than fun, especially if you have 100+ sites. However, if you planned your theme correctly (with an import pointing to another file) or if you used the Alternate CSS, then an iisreset isn’t necessary.