Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Using Google Gadgets to add external content and boost user buy in.

As a SharePoint consultant, one question that I am asked frequently at the beginning of implementation projects is "How do you get users to buy in to SharePoint and start using it?" Getting users to switch to using any new application can be tough. To get your user's to visit your portal, there has to be content there that the user needs or wants. I recommend starting with content that everyone in the organization can use. Begin migrating the functional areas that all employees interact with, for example Human Resources and Company Wide Calendars.
Companies that I have worked with have had huge success using lunch menus, featured employee biographies, and bulletin boards to attract their users to the site. This type of content engages the user and will keep them coming to the site as you continue to add more business related content. One quick and easy way to add user catching content is to use Google Gadgets. Not only can Google Gadgets can help you attract users to your site, they can also keep users from navigating away from the intranet into the World Wide Web.
Google has hundreds of gadgets that you can be added to any web page. Many of these can be integrated into SharePoint using the Content Editor Web Part or the XML Web Part. Many of the Gadgets can allow users to access information from the web without leaving the comfort of your intranet page.
The example below shows how to use the Content Editor Web Part to add a weather gadget to a page.
  1. Browse and find a Google Gadget for your page. Enter the settings for the Gadget. Click the Get the Code button. Copy the code in the box
  2. Add a Content Editor Web Part to your homepage and modify the web part.
  3. Click on the Source Editor and paste the code from the Google Gadget into the box.
  4. Save the Changes to the web part. When you reload the page the weather gadget will appear on your page.

Google Gadgets can be an easy way to add external content to your SharePoint site. Be wary and selective when choosing your Gadgets. Not all Google Gadgets are appropriate for use on company portals and using too many gadgets can clutter and make your site less user friendly. Remember the goal is to add content that the users want or need. Some of the Google Gadgets that I think could be useful in a SharePoint environment are the weather gadget, the Count Down gadget (This could be used to countdown to a company event or deadline.), and Google Mini Web gadget.
Happy Gadgeting!

Post a Comment