Names are important as they imply meaning, and in many experiences such as Microsoft Teams, names serve as a key navigational aid for end users in locating the correct Team quickly and easily. However, with many organizations, it is difficult – if not impossible to enforce consistent Microsoft Teams naming standards, even if Team and Group creation is limited to a small number of individuals. While this enforcement cannot be completely overcome without a tool like Orchestry, the first step is to define a single or set of consistent naming standards that will enable better adoption and success when it comes to its usage of Microsoft Teams.
Why is Microsoft Teams Naming Important?
The name of a Team and its Channels is hugely important as it serves as the primary mechanism by which users can currently navigate and browse their list of workplaces in the Teams Application. Studies in information-seeking behavior tell us that things like a Team’s labels are used by the human brain to quickly assess and estimate (via scanning) what this label represents.
The method by which users decide which link to select is often referred to as information scent, which can be understood as the “user’s imperfect estimate of the value that source will deliver” – which in our case is whether the team they open is in fact the team they are looking for. As described by the Nielsen Norman group, the user considers a link based on its label and any contextual information available to them. Within Microsoft Teams, this boils down to two things: the Team Name and the Team Logo – not a lot to go on. This underlines how essential good naming can be.
Without consistent Microsoft Teams naming standards, this process becomes taxing and inaccurate as end users have no reliable “memory” from which to draw to assist in accurately identifying whether certain information is the information they are seeking.
What are the Consequence of a Bad Team Name?
The consequences of poor or inconsistent naming boil down to two main problems: findability and redundancy. A variety of studies have shown that these are huge problems in the digital workplace:
- Findability: Multiple studies have shown that users spend a huge part of their day (some suggesting as much as 2.5 hours a day) simply searching for information. In the context of Teams, especially in organizations with a high volume of teams Workspaces, bad naming can seriously hamper the findability of teams which creates friction and irritation for end users trying to jump quickly between tasks.
- Redundant Effort: Poor naming can also lead to duplication of teams and effort, as end users who cannot find the object of their query will quickly abandon a search, sometimes creating a new space for this information and replicating content that may already exist elsewhere.
Not only does this problem occur in Microsoft Teams, but the same name used when creating the Team is also carried throughout the Microsoft 365 ecosystem and applied to several related objects (e.g., SharePoint Site, Email address, etc.) which essentially serves to multiply the problems shared above.
Microsoft Teams Naming Considerations
Adding consistent prefixes to the beginning of Microsoft Teams team names can be a useful way to add organization, structure and consistency to your teams. Because our eyes have a tendency to scan left to right, a prefix can be valuable as it creates a column of essential information down the left-hand side of the Teams experience.
- Prefixes can be useful but do not make these overly long as they can lead to the Team name being cut off. Generally, limit yourself to acronyms or prefixes no longer than 12 characters.
- While emojis can be tempting to utilize, keep in mind that these can cause issues for searchability and are not supported in all the areas where a Team’s name gets applied.
Spaces are proven to make names more scannable while improving overall readability for end users, which further aids with finding the right name in Microsoft Team. They should, however, also be used with some thought, especially when considering prefixes and suffixes you may choose to implement.
- When using prefixes or suffixes, we are now combining different “components” into the name, and it is typically helpful to aid users in differentiating the delineation between these segments. One way to do this is to keep spaces within a team’s Workspace name but use another delimiter (such as a dash or underscore) for the prefix or suffix. This allows the brain to quickly assess the team’s category from the team’s name.
An understandable response to remedying Teams’ findability is to add more detail to the team Name, ultimately adding more length to each name – but this can lead to other problems. Microsoft Teams only allows a certain team name length before it becomes truncated (trimmed). The length available depends on where the Team name is being shown:
- Pinned View: 45 characters
- Normal View: 34 characters
- Keep your team names to under 30 characters as a rule to ensure they are fully visible
Naming Conventions in Action
- Project Teams and Sites
- PRJ-[Project ID]-[Descriptive Name] e.g., PRJ-84719-Eclipse Renovation
- Department Teams and Sites
- DEPT-[Department Name] e.g., DEPT-Human Resources
- DEPT-[Classification Acronym]-[Department Name] e.g., DEPT-SENS-Human Resources
- Regional Department Teams
- DEPT-[Region]-[Department Name] e.g., DEPT-US-Human Resources
- Department Sub-Teams
- [Department Acronym]-[Descriptive Name] e.g., HR-Total Benefits
- Guest Access Enabled Teams and Sites
- EXT-[Descriptive Name] e.g., EXT-Partner Hub
- Guest-[Descriptive Name] e.g., Guest-Partner Hub
- +G_[Descriptive Name] e.g., +G_Partner Hub
- [Descriptive Name]_+G e.g., Partner Hub_+G
- Public Teams
- Public-[Descriptive Name] e.g., Public-Chess Club
- PUB-[Descriptive Name] e.g., PUB-Chess Club
- P_[Descriptive Name] e.g., P_Chess Club
- [Descriptive Name]_P e.g., Chess Club_P
- Internal vs External Client/Partner Teams
- INT-[Client Name] e.g., INT_Tesla
- [Client Name] e.g., Tesla
Start Improving Microsoft Teams Naming
There are a number of things that this article discusses that we recommend your organization consider:
- Institute a consistent Microsoft Teams naming policy for common Workspace types
- Avoid using names that are over 30 characters long and get truncated
- Avoid the use of certain words like “Test”, “Demo”, “Temporary”, People’s Names, or Acronyms that are poorly understood
- Put in place processes to ensure users have ways to discover Workspaces that already exist before the same information is recreated elsewhere
How Orchestry Can Help
The challenge with any of the Microsoft Teams naming best practices is that they are difficult to enforce consistently without a great deal of manual human intervention. A complete solution like Orchestry can help go well beyond what is available out of the box (or with additional licenses like Azure P1) by:
1. Automating the creation of Teams using established naming conventions: These naming conventions can vary based on the type of workspace being created, and may include both static text (e.g., a Workspace type prefix like “PRJ”), as well as dynamic values such as metadata selected (e.g., a region like “Asia”) when requesting the Workspace:
2. Preventing the creation of redundant teams: One way this can be achieved is via a Workspace name validation which searches other workspaces with an identical or similar name, and makes intelligent suggestions to the requestee. This can additionally be supported with a transparent Workspace Directory which allows users to search through the entire catalog of Teams and SharePoint Sites within the organization before they make a new request:
3. Blocking undesirable words: This can be achieved by configuring the system to avoid the use of certain words that may cause confusion, or are likely to represent workspaces that should not be created:
Simplify Microsoft Teams Naming to Enhance User Experience
Effective navigation with Microsoft Teams is vital, especially in large or complex organizations where individuals are likely to have a long list of teams to which they belong. Unfortunately, there are a very limited set of options available to help users identify and find (logo and team name) the teams they are seeking, which makes Microsoft Teams naming especially important.
Without effective Microsoft Teams naming conventions and tools in place to avoid duplication, users are likely to struggle finding what they need and may even duplicate work that already exists. Solutions like Orchestry can help by automating these challenging processes, enforcing governance rules, and ultimately enabling a more consistent and organized Teams environment. Get a FREE trial of Orchestry today and see the incredible core capabilities in action!