It takes all kinds of skills to successfully design, develop, and launch a SharePoint solution:  Sponsors, Project Managers, Web Designers, Developers, Information Architects, Change Agents and Subject Matter Experts, just to name a few.  But what if I told you that to truly get sustainable adoption of that SharePoint solution, there is really only one skill that all of these roles must put at the top of their list; a skill that is the secret sauce to change a site from good to great.  What’s more, this one skill will make developers, architects and designers alike not only meet requirements, but delight their sponsors, leaders and clients each and every time.

So what is the secret you ask?  What #1 skill can make the biggest difference in getting real value out of SharePoint?

Simply put – Think like an End User!

It’s too often too easy to forget why we are doing what we are doing with SharePoint.  Depending on the version of SharePoint, we are often too mired in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, XSLT, CAML, JSON5, and CSR7 to remember that not one bit of code means anything if the users don’t like the solution in action.

Thinking like an end user may sound easy to do, but it can be a difficult skill to perfect, simply based on the fact that you know too much about what you are already skilled at doing.  But while challenging, learning this skill can be achieved by practicing the following tactics:

Whenever you get to a decision point with the work you are responsible for, stop, think like an end user, and then make the decision.  Before moving on to the next deliverable, take a moment and put yourself in the end users’ shoes.  Ask yourself, “Did I design this for someone like me,” or did I think about what the site’s users want and need?  “How can I make this as simple and intuitive as possible?” instead of “How would I as a

[fill in the blank] expert like to see this implemented?”

Most importantly, no matter what role you play, the best proven way to learn how to “think like an end user” is to ask one!

Bottom line, you are providing a solution for people who will use SharePoint to perform their job each and every day.  In most cases the solution must support multiple user types: young and old, experienced and novice, visitors and contributors, supporters and naysayers.  If we do our job right, every user will be excited about SharePoint because they will find the new solution easier, better or faster than how they did their work in the past.  The design will be intuitive to the point that they need little to no training, depending on prior SharePoint experience.  The site will convert your “not yet convinced about SharePoint” end users into your biggest fans because they see and get real value from their experience.  This doesn’t happen by accident.  It happens because we as experts took the time along the way to think like an end user.