SharePoint is a great platform for external-facing sites, either B2C or B2B. SharePoint is primarily known as an Intranet environment that allows non-technical end-users to build new sites in a very short time, with rich collaborative functionality such as document sharing, out-of-the-box integration with search, and easy to use content management.
But SharePoint also can meet the requirements of sites for consumers — sites with rich interactions, branding, personalization, and content targeting as well as integration with back-end transactional systems for ecommerce, internationalization, cross-browser compatibility, and accessibility compliance. And for B2B sites, SharePoint offers rich user management features and powerful end-user customization capability.
The SharePoint front-end Web architecture, site management, and content management features offer many ways to influence the appearance of sites with capabilities that are available to site designers and developers such as site definitions, portal setting, Master Pages, page layout components, and rich Internet application integration.
As you may recall, SharePoint Server 2007 required significant custom coding to integrate all of these elements into a compelling user experience for an external audience. SharePoint 2010 has simplified that integration and made the creation of external-facing sites a simpler effort.
Still, good planning and design certainly pay off when using SharePoint for B2B and B2C sites, but when using SharePoint today, you will find the right features to use to meet your requirements and design specifications, as long as your requirements are well defined. By following good design practices, you will discover that SharePoint is a productive environment with many advantages over competing platforms. For instance:
SharePoint is both a portal and a content management system — a rare combination that offers integration between the content management and the UI rendition part of the platform.
SharePoint is a site management environment too — which allows you to standardize how sites are built in a multi-site enterprise situation, which is more often the case than not.
SharePoint is well integrated with .NET and associated development tools. With SharePoint 2010, the integration with Visual Studio 2010 greatly facilitates the deployment of a SharePoint application.
SharePoint offers full search capability through the tight integration with several search solutions: Search Server, Search Server Express, and FAST, the enterprise search engine from Microsoft.
SharePoint offers control over search engine optimization.
SharePoint has a strong security model.
SharePoint is extensible through a rich integration layer, on the front and back-end and through a large set of third party products. There is a rich ecosystem of vendors around SharePoint that make SharePoint a nearly complete functional and operational environment.
Finally, SharePoint is the platform with the most publically available documentation, code samples, and guidance; and training in SharePoint is easily accessible.
There are many convincing reasons to consider SharePoint for public facing sites. Razorfish has a wealth of experience building external SharePoint sites for brands like Kraft’s Maxwell House, Kroger, Dell Financial Services, Carnival Cruise Lines, Pfizer, Parsons, and TCDRS.
Please contact us at www.razorfish.com for more information.