Roll up! Build better SharePoint views with Lightning Conductor

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A quick glance at statistics on SharePoint usage can make for impressive reading. For instance, SharePoint is reportedly used by:

  • 2 out of 3 enterprise employees
  • 50% of Fortune 500 companies
  • Over 100 million people worldwide

But many organisations say that using SharePoint is a challenge because they cannot obtain the levels of employee buy-in they would like. Many admit that shadow IT is a problem, with one report suggesting that 58% of companies struggle to persuade their users to manage and share content in SharePoint over alternative file-sharing apps. Is this because other apps are easier to use?

If the problem is poor user experience, then building better SharePoint views may be one avenue to explore.

Using SharePoint views – otherwise referred to as a ‘Content Rollup’ – to customise the layout and structure of content in SharePoint can make it much easier to access the information users need to do their jobs efficiently. This can be achieved in SharePoint out-of-the-box using a selection of Web Parts (the Content Query and Content Search Web Parts). However, it’s hard to know which Web Part is the right one to use at the right time. Content Rollups can be too technical for many employees.

In this post, we will discuss how to roll-up your content and build better SharePoint views with the Lightning Conductor Add-in Web Part.

 

What are SharePoint views?

Just as different organisations use SharePoint in different ways, so do employees within organisations. Depending on their role, responsibilities and working style, each employee will use SharePoint slightly differently. For this reason, it is important that users can customise how they store, organise, share and access the information they need in the way they would like.

The need for this is most apparent in Site Collections—the repository for all a user’s (or group of users’) content in SharePoint. For instance, this might include all the projects a team are working on for the next three months: their calendars, timetables, documents, notes, etc. It goes without saying that it would be useful for individuals to customise how they manage, organise and display this content – which can grow to be quite sizeable.

There are various reasons why you might want to build better SharePoint views, such as:

  • To organise information efficiently
  • To access important content quickly
  • To highlight important documents that you might otherwise miss
  • To display a list of documents from multiple libraries based on a query

 

How to roll-up SharePoint content

As mentioned earlier, aggregating lists in this way is referred to as a ‘Content Rollup’, and can be accomplished in SharePoint out-of-the-box using the Content Query and Content Search Web Parts.

Both these Web Parts carry out similar functions: allowing users to search for and display information stored in SharePoint sites. The difference between the two is that the Content Query Web Part achieves this by querying lists, whereas the Content Search Web Part does so by searching content.

In SharePoint’s default setting, both Web Parts display items by the date modified, with the most recently changed surfacing at the top. Most SharePoint users view their Site Collections organised in this way without changing how their content is presented to them. This can hamper productivity. For instance, a user might prefer to organise their SharePoint view so that they can see all their content listed by client. But, instead, they are stuck with the default view.

However, by writing a few lines of code to alter the search or query criteria, you can modify how your content is listed in your sites. This is how to roll-up SharePoint content.

Unfortunately, many users choose not to go down this route because it is a technical procedure that requires knowledge of coding—in particular, writing XSLT and display templates—and because it can be time-intensive. If a user happened to select the wrong Web Part, this would significantly decrease the performance of your site. With little to differentiate between the two Web Parts, this is a more common problem than you would think.

These problems mean users are missing out on the benefits of creating personal views that might make it easier for them to engage in SharePoint.

 

Introducing Lightning Conductor

The Lightning Conductor Web Part Add-In enables SharePoint users to roll-up any content from across multiple Site Collections. Without needing to write a single line of code, users can create perfect SharePoint views for their lists and libraries, including documents, tasks, announcements, contacts or calendars. The level of customisation on offer includes Shared or Private filters, multiple levels of grouping, custom columns and exporting to Microsoft Excel.

This makes using SharePoint much easier. Users can now access all of their content in one centralised location, customised to their preferences. As well as increasing employee buy-in to your SharePoint investment, it can help increase productivity and save endless hours that would have been spent writing code for the Content Query and Content Search Web Parts.

Lightning Tools is a global provider of SharePoint tools, for both SharePoint Online and SharePoint on-premises. Download the Lightning Conductor Add-In from the Office Store today, or get in touch with us to see how it can help your users access their SharePoint content.