Unexpected Error


Missing Site Templates When Creating Sites

Another wonderful example of failed instructions and error handling. SharePoint seems to allow you to add the Enterprise Search Center, but it turns out that even though you can add the site template, it doesn’t actually show up when trying to create a site.

It turns out you need to activate a feature to allow you to actually create an Enterprise Search Center. Corey Roth has a post on this: Dude! Where’s my Search Center? So MSFT: Please only allow an administrator to select templates that are actually available!

Searching SharePoint Lists with Friendly URLs

The always talented Waldek Mastykarz points out that when someone tries to locally search a list, the search will not return pages with friendly URLs. The reason is because the URL is appended to the search query, and it obviously doesn’t match a friendly URL. Once again, thanks MSFT!

Read his post: Inconvenient searching Lists for pages with Friendly URLs

May 7

Misleading Cursor Feedback in Web Part Zones

It’s the 2013 version of SharePoint, and I still cannot drag web parts between zones in non-IE browsers. What’s worse is that the cursor that gives the impression you drag it, but it’s a horrible lie.


Covering Global Navigation with the Ribbon

I know there are times when focusing your UI and doing “decisive actions" can be beneficial, but usually it involves focusing on important elements like the navigation.

In the case of the SharePoint ribbon, as soon as you initiate it, by default the whole header is covered. This includes the global navigation, site title, site image, breadcrumbs, view changer, and site description. Here’s a GIF of it happening.


At the very least, covering global navigation is never a good idea. I’ve heard that remove the default divs that surround the header can slide the header down instead of covering it. If I put together a post on it I’ll update this one.

When SharePoint Features Break Other Features

I received a request from a co-worker on an issue she noticed.  For some reason in team sites the “open links in new window” checkbox in the SharePoint navigation tool didn’t work. The links simply would ignore the setting.

After probing I noticed that SharePoint was inserting an onclick event on navigation items. I was initially perplexed, but then I learned that what was happening was a collision with the Minimal Download Strategy (MDS) feature in 2013. MDS was adding this inline JavaScript event that was hijacking the anchor and ignoring the other navigation setting.

You can read about my confusing journey: SharePoint 2013 Site Navigation Does Not Open in New Window

Problematic Error Messages in SharePoint 2013

Handling errors has never been a strong point in SharePoint even in the newest version. Let’s take a look at some errors on required fields in a list.


There are several things to note about this:

  1. The proximity of the error message to the field is too close. The Gestalt proximity rules would have us be more specific in its position. It would become a more obvious problem as the fields increased.
  2. The error doesn’t tell the user what should actually go in the field to fix the error. Now, when you put in a letter it does tell you that only numbers can go in it, but it should tell you that from the beginning.
  3. The microcopy for the error doesn’t have a positive tone. It sounds almost borderline accusatory.
  4. When I do insert content into the fields it gives no instant feedback that I have resolved the error.
  5. The input field with an error is not properly highlighted.
  6. A subjective argument can be made that not only is the error message not have enough visual distinction, but that it also shouldn’t use the color red.

If you want to see some good principles on error messages see the following posts.

Aug 8

Distinguishing Between Primary and Secondary Actions

Apparently Microsoft didn’t get the memo. Here is one example in an embed dialog.

Drag What Link Where?

As I begin to play more with SharePoint 2013 I wanted to use the inline navigation editor. I was shown the text: “Drag and drop link here.” Now I was totally confused for about five minutes. I asked, “does this mean I drag links from the page here?” Well that wasn’t it.  I then wondered, “do I drag the current links I’ve made here?” All that seems to do is reorder them, which I would’ve thought I didn’t need the zone for.

I left that experience completely confused, and I still don’t understand the true purpose of that functionality. Talk about cognitive overload.

Ellipsis Abuse in SharePoint 2013

Here is a good definition of ellipsis:

  1. The omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or be understood from contextual clues.
  2. A set of dots indicating such an omission.

That’s interesting. So basically this means that when you see an ellipsis you should make the assumption that the content that is being omitted is, in the words of the definition, “superfluous.”

What makes this puzzling is that in SharePoint 2013 the content that is hidden underneath the ellipsis is anything but superfluous.  I don’t even know what kind of convention that had in mind when approaching this. 

Here are some examples.


Document Properties/Settings

Settings Shortcut on “Apps”

The Default Value of the Yes/No Column

I was just wondering this today…shouldn’t the default value of the column presented on creation by default be “No”? It just feels like in a boolean situation that it is more likely to default to no and the user explicitly makes makes the value “yes.”

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