What if SharePoint had a party and nobody came? This is a little more than a silly hypothetical question. After we upgraded to SharePoint 2010, we noticed a problem with the main page of our internal server. Our attempts to fix this problem have been frustrated by a reference to the old server that we know should not be there. I am convinced that this is the cumulative effect of our migratory path from a 2003 WSS site to SharePoint Portal Server, then to SP 2007 and now to SP 2010. We have never paid much attention to the main page, focusing more on the sub-sites. Along the way from 2003 WSS to our current mix of Farms and Sites, we have only made the most minor attempts to draw people into the front room, as it were.
This past week, our attempts to fix this page resulted in an error when the page loads. We reset the page layout several times, returning us to the recalcitrant home page, and another shot at its repair. On one attempt, we created an error situation that we seemingly cannot return from. My Systems Administrator instantly offered up options ranging from restoring from our robust backup options to hacking bits and pieces of the file structure, while I am advocating starting over. As we battle what seems to be the Hydra of SharePoint, our users have been surprisingly quiet. Are they being kind and understanding, or do they simply not care that the homepage is gone? Perhaps they haven’t even noticed…
Our users own, and use the sub sites. They come to SharePoint to accomplish tasks, and they usually come by way of a link to the specific page they need to visit. We have tried to put useful information on the front page, in an attempt to route them through our content on the way to theirs, but we have met with only limited success. Probably the most popular home page attribute is the Daily Dilbert. I can’t help but be reminded of a family clash of culture from my childhood:
One day, my father asked my mother if she wanted to “go to the mall” – this was like asking a politician if he wants money. My father explained that he needed a saw blade, my mother didn’t care, and she didn’t require a reason to shop. We drove to the mall, parked near and entered through Sears’ tool department. My father purchased his saw blade and we promptly left. Despite my mother’s protests, we ignored the rest of Sears, not to mention the other 101 stores.
I sided with my father back then, and I’m not sure I don’t side with our users today. Do I really care if they visit the main page? I don’t think I do.
Of course, we will fix the main page, but I am taking specific guidance from the muted reaction of our users to its absence. First, when we get it back up, I am going to focus on getting people from there to their ultimate destination as fast and as easily as possible. Second, I am going to make sure that the stuff I want them to see on the main page is visible throughout the sub-sites. In other words, I’m going to do what I have always advocated, I am going to “give ‘em what they want.”