One of the first things many companies do after they install SharePoint is to brand it, applying their own company logo, design, and even a completely new user interface (UI). By the time some of them are finished, it may be difficult to recognize it as SharePoint. There are some obvious benefits to branding, but there are also some things you might want to consider before you dive right into it.
It is quite common for businesses to want their public-facing websites to be customized, and SharePoint is designed to make that as easy as possible, but some also feel the need to customize internal corporate portals as a way of showing a unified company look and feel throughout the organization. This may be a mistake.
According to SharePoint Pro there are two types of branding. The first type only makes changes to the general graphics, fonts, and colors while preserving the standard SharePoint UI and features. To outsiders, it would still be easy for them to walk right in and get working. The second type of branding revamps everything, creating a completely new UI, and may even involve hiring an outside firm to create the new interface.
In the end, the company who pays for this type of graphic design will have something completely unique, but there are plenty of disadvantages you should consider before doing this.
1. Beyond appearance, what is the practical benefit? Creating a new UI is not something you would ever consider doing with other apps like Excel or Word. Why do that to SharePoint?
2. Consider your users. There is a good chance many of your employees have used SharePoint with other companies and may even be experts. If you present them with a completely new frontend, they will need training and extra support, likely from the people who did the redesigning. You could then find yourself locked into a support contract with a third-party vendor. That is more money down the drain, and that third-party vendor may not be as reliable as your Microsoft partner. Is that a risk you are willing to take?
3. Is it sustainable? Rather than having something manageable with a standard set of support tools and documents, you will have essentially created a new program, one that you are now responsible for supporting. That means it will cost you more than the standard SharePoint implementation, and you will have to do it all over again when the next version is released.
4. Money is useful and can be useful in other areas. It is doubtful that your business revolves around SharePoint. It has other needs. You can spend that extra money on other tools or even more practical tools that will make your SharePoint system more productive for your specific industry.
In the long run, the disadvantages of branding internal SharePoint sites far outweigh the benefits. It will cost you more and simply give you more headaches. A simple logo change and a few color adjustments are enough and probably more than your employees will really notice anyway. That is money and time you could spend on actually making your company perform better rather than just looking better.
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