In May 2008, I posted "Five ways to make your SharePoint implementation more visually interesting without writing any code." Since then, clients have continued to ask how to "jazz up" their SharePoint implementations, and I have learned additional ways to achieve this. Below are some of the tips from my original post, with a lot of new material. (Note: Some of these suggestions work for MOSS only, not WSS. Also, you will need web server administrator and/or "full control" permissions in your portal to perform some of these customizations).
1. Install Bamboo Solutions' free weather web part. It looks great and it's easy to install and configure. They also offer a free "Hello" web part for a personalized welcome message.
For a single-location office:
For a multi-location office:
Note: a drawback to the multi-location display is that results display only in Farenheit or Celsius for all locations. It's possible to get around this by using two web parts, one set for F and one set for C, and targeting them to the appropriate user communities.
2 . Whenever you're displaying a person's name on a site, for example as the site contact or on a list of team members or department contacts, use the field type "person" and choose the option to display the picture as well as the name.
The out-of-box Contact Details web part:
A team members list which displays profile information using the "person" field (where I have chosen the option "Name (with picture and details)":
3. Use the Hyperlink field as a poor man's rating system, by setting it to display a picture instead of a link. This one I learned from a client (thanks Katherine!) who used a star graphic to indicate employee recommendations in a list.
4. For MOSS users - Use the "This Week in Pictures" web part that comes with SharePoint.
Note: Most of my clients have found some limitations with this web part (e.g., it doesn't rotate on refresh, only when you add a new photo; also, the slideshow link takes you to the beginning of the image library each time, rather than to the picture that is displayed in the web part), which makes them want to turn to third-party solutions, such as:
SharePoint Image Rotator Web Part from Kwizcom
RadRotator for ASP.NET AJAX from Telerik
5. Add a poll web part. I have reviewed three for SharePoint, here.
6. Use Bamboo Solutions' mini-calendar to show events graphically on a page. It's not free, but it's a great solution for a calendar view without having to use the giant, non-scalable one that comes out-of-box, and you can modify the CSS to match your company's branding.
Alternatively, you can try out Christophe's step-by-step method for creating your own "tiny cute calendar view."
7. For a more graphical calendar without purchasing a third-party solution, create and display a "gantt" view of your Events list:
8. Create a logo for each department, and place it on that department's home page in the Site Image area. I have worked with several clients who have done this, and the logos range from formal to whimsical. I recommend that you use the same image for each department, and just change the text to reflect the department name. Store all the images together in a centrally-accessible location so that you can easily edit or create a new one if you add or change a department name (i.e., make available the layered image file or PowerPoint in which you're manipulating the images).
9. Make use of the little icon on web part title bar. If your logo incorporates an icon, you can display a tiny version of it in your web part's title bar:
Some company logos will be excellent for this; others may be too detailed to look good in a tiny size. If your company's logo won't work, you could use any other icon to bring visual interest to your web parts (i.e. a different icon for Announcements vs. document libraries vs. links lists).
- Upload the icon to an image library and copy the URL of the image. (Note: you don't need to make a small version of the icon; Sharepoint will resize it appropriately.)
- In a test area, choose a web part you'd like to add this image to, and select Modify Shared Web Part from the title bar drop-down menu.
- Expand the Advanced section and scroll down to the "Title Icon Image URL" field. Paste the image URL here. (Note: the web part will make this link relative once you click OK or Apply.)
- Click OK or Apply to see the change.
10. Apply a theme. In addition to the 18 themes that come with SharePoint, here are some additional sources:
11. Change your master page. This may be the fastest, easiest way to make your SharePoint portal look un-Sharepointy. Microsoft offers a free download of five master page layouts in four colors each, for a total of twenty options.
Note: If you are using WSS only, you'll need the WSS Master Page Selector feature in order to switch your master page.
12. For MOSS users: Expose a chart using Excel Services and the Excel Web Access web part:
13. For MOSS users: Put up a Key Performance Indicator web part. This may require some content-owner participation to supply the data and maintain it, but you could get some good results without much effort by displaying manually-entered metrics like "On-time timesheet submission," "System status," "Participation (in a particular survey, drive or event)", or simply drive the KPIs off calculated fields on a task list.
For WSS users, you can achieve the look and feel of KPIs with these great tips from the Worker Thread Blog (referencing the technique of Christophe in his Path to SharePoint blog).
I will be adding to this list as I learn more. Please add a comment if you have a question or suggestion!