SharePoint Site Hi- light: So You’re Seeing Little Green Men?

Welcome to another installment of “SharePoint Site Hi- light”, a running series where we examine web sites that are built on and driven by SharePoint. Our regular critique takes a look at overall design and usability, as well as providing a look at how they take advantage of SharePoint.

The company featured in today’s blog is a maker of monsters from outer space. Not really, but they do make monster gaming computers. Alienware has been on the wish list of many a gamer for years, including mine, but I didn’t suspect that they were using SharePoint to drive their website. That just shows you how versatile SharePoint can be.

On first impression, the Alienware site seems pretty slick. It’s obvious that the design is intended to mimic the look of their hardware, which is a nice design touch. The majority of the home page is populated by a large interactive flash presentation, which has been integrated quit well into the non- flash page.

Under the flash presentation is a line of graphics that are links to the major product sections of their site. Unfortunately, they are not labeled, so at first glance don’t seem much like links. At first, I ignored these and proceeded to get around using the regular navigation. This was set in the right place, so it was easy to find.

As with many corporate sites, they do break some navigation rules. Using drop- down menus is a usability no- no, and using sub- menus in the drop-downs is even worse. The other problem to mention is that the main links are not clickable; you have to use the drop- downs and sub- menus to get around.

After figuring out how to get around, I find that even with the sub-menus, the site is well organized overall, and it’s easy to find products, get product info, and most importantly, order products. I would also like to mention that Alienware actually stuffed full sales ads including picture and purchase links in the submenus, so very ungainly.

For Alienware’s SharePoint site, I would like to say that they knocked it out of the park, but I can’t. There general usability issues dealing with the navigation score heavily against them no matter how sleek the site looks. After you strip away all the “pretty”, I can only score this SharePoint site 2.75 stars out of 5.

Thanks for coming by and reading our series, make sure to stop back in again, and it the mean time, keep your eyes open for other SharePoint driven sites. Can you spot them? Now you can sign up with us for Hosted SharePoint Server 2013 services!

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