Mobile strategies with SharePoint 2013
Travis Whitehouse – Professional Advantage consultant
With the rise of bring your own device (BYOD) and the move away from a corporate standard, companies are having to deliver a robust toolset which can work across all platforms for its employees. SharePoint 2013 was built with this in mind.
Intranets are no longer confined to the corporate network. An always online culture means a generation of employees are expecting access to information at their fingertips, just like in their personal lives, and budgets do not allow for bespoke device systems to be built.
The challenge for IT departments is to weigh up the costs of implementation of such systems against the productivity benefits that can be gained from them. The out of the box experience with SharePoint targets five areas which help deliver these capabilities, without the costs.
Focus on content
This is a feature found in the page layout. By selecting the icon, the 'to' and 'side' navigation elements are hidden to allow the user to concentrate and focus on the content area.
A simple click and the navigation returns. The usefulness of this is evident on smaller devices where it also allows for a more immersive experience.
Contemporary feel default mobile layouts
There is a new optimised mobile browser experience for viewing a SharePoint site. Called the contemporary view, it has a modern user interface (UI) which is optimised for touch. This is an improvement on the classic view from SharePoint 2010, which is still available for use with those mobile devices that do not support HTML 5.
Full screen UI
The third option for mobile browsers, specifically tablet/slate devices, is for them to use the full screen UI, the same experience as a desktop user. The contemporary view has a link to this option.
Mobile device channels
The mobile device channel functionality is the most powerful of all the new features relating to mobility in SharePoint 2013. This is the ability to render different designs to different devices or groups of devices. Essentially the same site can show different content to different devices by mapping different master pages and style sheets. Devices can be grouped based on their user agent string eg, generically mobiles and tablets, or targeting specific devices, such as iPads or iPhones. While the different master pages and style sheet need to be created, SharePoint handles the request management.
SharePoint mobile apps
Microsoft provides apps for different platforms. In the Apple App Store, Google Play and Windows Store there is an app dedicated to the SharePoint Newsfeed. The social media elements of SharePoint are revealed by this app, allowing users to continue conservations, hash tags and @ mentions.
It gives users access to the people and documents they are following. While it is limited to the social feature set, it is a simple way for communication or activity stream-focused intranet to get mobile.
When determining your mobile strategy a number of questions need to be answered.
- What devices do I have to connect with and how are they supported natively?
- What are the security implications of allowing mobile access?
- What areas of my SharePoint implementation require mobile views?
- How do we create an overall design that will degrade gracefully on different devices?
A Professional Advantage consultant can help you determine what strategy can best fit your business goals.
Want to get up close to the new features and benefits of SharePoint 2013? Register for our upcoming seminar.