The Communication Studio

CSS Cleanup

A proof of concept for the clean-up of a SharePoint-based enterprise website.

This is not simply "a coat of paint" on the surface of functional code. In fact, it has no impact whatsoever on the styling of any pages. Yet it is integral to the creation and maintenance of the code itself in the SharePoint environment. Our project has substantial implications for the IT DevTeam, as well as the Content Managers who use and maintain that platform.

This collateral was in support of a project at KPMG

Initial Stage

The CSS Cleanup stage deals exclusively with the “information architecture” of the website, which is embodied in the tags of the site’s Cascading Stylesheets (CSS). 

These CSS tags are the common ground among the IT Development Team, Marketing, which defines presentational standards, and the SharePoint Content Management System which is the structural backbone of  

CSS is the semantic structure of the enterprise ’s web presence.  It is the fundamental building block of any intelligent information system. Any changes to CSS have implications across all vectors of the endeavor: programming, database maintenance, design and “user interface”.

The enterprise website is the model for more than 140 global websites which are maintained and customized locally.  The scale and scope of all of those sites are directly affected by the CSS Cleanup.

This is why it is necessary to execute a fully-featured Proof of Concept for the CSS Cleanup stage.  

We expect to address Workflow, Behaviors and Presentational Styling issues in future stages.

CSS Cleanup

In CSS Cleanup we focus on Four main areas:

  • Best Practices
  • Compliance with Accessibility Standards
  • Management & Maintenance Process
  • Design Platform

Best Practices

Our CSS Cleanup process conforms to industry “best practices”, which ensure that the CSS is well configured, well-formed and well-integrated.  These are being captured as reference-able guidance documents.

Compliance with Accessibility Standards

Our commitment to Best Practices also inherently implies our conformance with Accessibility, SEO and Usability policies (recently released), which echo accepted industry standards.

Effective Management & Maintenance Process

You can’t fix it until you know what you have, where it is, and what it’s called.  CSS Cleanup provides the map, as well as the first phase of solutions.  The implications for ongoing management, maintenance and cross-discipline & enterprise-wide communication should be obvious.

The information identification and mapping collateral that we produce in the course of CSS Cleanup have “legs” beyond IT and fixing the code.  The knowledge management aspects of this project should not be overlooked.

Viable Design Platform

  • Marketing wants to maintain brand identify & consistency
  • Site creators and managers want a simple, easy-to-use editorial environment that is based on pre-formatted, re-usable components
  • … that still allow for some flexibility (the notion that you have some creative elbow room within a well-defined, well-regulated structure)

The CSS Cleanup stage is fundamental to achieving any of these goals.  The Proof of Concept is essential for implementation of the initial stage of CSS Cleanup.

Proof of Concept

The challenge of CSS Cleanup is daunting because we do not have the luxury of “a clean slate”.  The CSS Cleanup is expected to deal with substantial legacy problems. CSS Cleanup has implications for both technical code environment (IT DevTeam) and the user interface design arena (Marketing and the Editorial interface).

The POC is driven by several factors:

  • The style sheets, the templates, design components, code generation modules and the SharePoint platform are inextricably intertwined. It is almost impossible to work on one without also addressing the others.
  • The inter-relationship among the technical programming and design elements is highly complex. They must be addressed, tested, and solved in context.
  • One reason for bringing UX expertise onboard in order to implement CSS Cleanup is because the fundamental information architecture aspect of CSS in the legacy enterprise sitewas not particularly well-organized or documented up to this point.
  • The production and design environment is made more complex by the inclusion of 3rd party CMS software SharePoint, which imposes its own proprietary CSS structure and coding metaphor.
  • A goal of the UX engagement is to provide best practices guidance and workable, efficient process in the handling of CSS going forward.


The POC allows the CSS-oriented UX resource and the IT DevTeam to work out and test the underlying assumptions regarding the CSS cleanup across this range of challenges.