One of the early questions that needs to be addressed when starting to use SharePoint is how to organize the site and information in it. The approach of course varies depending on what you are wanting to use SharePoint for.
In the SharePoint Governance and Information Architecture Master Class that I recently attended, Paul Culmsee talked about “information scent”. Information scent is a way to describe how we approach finding information. How you evaluate the options presented to you, which one you choose, and how successful you will be in finding what you are looking for. When presented with a number of options, users will select the item that they believe will take them closer to their goal.
Information architecture is all about providing people with strong information scents so they can quickly and accurately find what they are looking for. For example, if you are looking for some information on when a piece of equipment goes off warranty, which menu item would you select? “Electronic Financial Records” or “License, contract, and asset tracking”. On the other hand, if you work in the financial area and you want to find out the amount paid for a piece of software, which would you choose then?
In order to develop a site with good information scents, you have to understand your users, the terms they use, and how they are going to use the information that you are storing. You also need to understand the capabilities of SharePoint and how it stores information. Due to the way that SharePoint works, you may not be able to easily implement the architecture you want.
Remember SharePoint has an architecture and you will have to live within that.
Thanks for reading.