October 2008 Archives

Collaborative 'Lego' Art in Copenhagen

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I have recently returned from Copenhagen, where an installation of white Lego blocks was set up in the main city square (next to the City Hall). People would spend time building structures from the Lego each day, and some were very impressive. Normally the structures would be destroyed at night, and building would resume early the following morning. A sense of community engaged, stopping from busy schedules to build these structures. Taking a little time to be creative is therapeudic, and the results are rewarding. I love it when art engages the community. I also love Lego, and what more could one ask for in Denmark? Awesome.

Autumn and Halloween Themes in Copenhagen

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Copenhagen was in festive mood over the past week. The theme park in the centre of Copenhagen, Tivoli, was decorated for Halloween and re-opened for a week or two to celebrate the autumn season. Pumpkins, scarecrows, and other Halloween decorations filled the park. They also had a Halloween-themed parade throughout the park. I enjoyed the autumn colours and the contrast on some of the buildings discovered on my walks around the city. I have posted a few photographs below.






SharePoint Usability

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In my previous post, I mentioned the visual design of SharePoint. In this post, I will mention a few usability issues. I have been working with SharePoint for a year now, and I've redeveloped the company Intranet using SharePoint. I've also provided training sessions to employees and one-on-one assistance with site owners. Overall, SharePoint does well as a collaborative tool, but there are a couple of mentionable aspects.

User Administration: This is one area that could be done better in SharePoint. There are a couple of different ways to add users to a website or to see users in a group, but each way (clicking on the same heading to achieve this) brings the user to a different page. The User Administration aspect is confusing, and I believe it is one of the major areas that needs revised.

Groups: SharePoint allows the creation of different Groups, and users can add other users to specific groups. This cleans up the user administration level of the website so that users with the same permissions can be put into groups instead of, say, adding a couple hundred users directly to the site. By default when a SharePoint site is created, different groups can be created. However, once the initial groups are set up and populated with users, I notice that any additional users added afterwards are not added to the group; they are added directly to the website with their own permissions. Microsoft could prevent this from happening iby making the User Administration area more user-friendly.

Breadcrumbs: I love the breadcrumbs as they allow the user to go back and forth between pages and subsites. This is one usability feature that is often overlooked, and it is particularly useful within nested pages.

Administrator-level pages: These pages use a different design to give administrator-level users the ability to manage their specific websites. However, this new design takes the user out of the page context, and users get 'lost' in the structure and have trouble finding their way back to the original page. Microsoft needs to rethink this aspect as well.

Overall, SharePoint is a strong collaborative tool, and users can get much more out of managing and sharing their content than they ever could before. However, there are some issues with usability. Due to these inherit issues, it is necessary to have one person as an Intranet Owner monitor changes and assist other site-level administrators (as well as communicate to these other users) to ensure that content is kept up-to-date and consistent.


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