Tag Archives: Office Online

How To Make Your SharePoint Sites Look Great

Creating a visually appealing SharePoint site is vital if you want people to engage with it regularly. But you don’t need to spend hours designing and curating your sites for them to look good.

We’ve created a video to show you that it’s possible to create a professional and captivating SharePoint site in under 20 minutes. By sticking to our top tips, you can make sure your organisation’s SharePoint sites look clean and well-designed while remaining practical and informative.



Get inspired by the SharePoint look book.

Microsoft has put together a free resource filled with inspiration for SharePoint sites, whether you need pages for news, announcements, resources or training.

The beauty of the look book is that if you see a site you like, you can add it to your SharePoint as a starting point.

SharePoint look book

Use high-quality images.

Inject life into your SharePoint site by using eye-catching imagery.

There are plenty of free and high-quality image resources out there, so you don’t necessarily need to spend money on bringing a photographer in to take team photos.

The SharePoint look book is a great place to download professional photos, and SharePoint itself has an image library filled with all types of pictures to suit your needs.

By filling your site engaging imagery, you’re already halfway there to making it look good.

SharePoint Design

Stick to a colour scheme.

Once you start playing with colour in SharePoint, you can truly make a site your own. Use your brand colours and stick to a simple colour palette of around 2-4 shades to keep everything looking consistent and professional.

You could go one step further and bear this colour scheme in mind when selecting images for the site.

Section variety.

When you have lots of content to showcase, important messages can easily get lost in the noise.

Make sure you break up your content into logical sections and ensure these sections look distinctive from each other.

Again, use colours to differentiate each section. As Tony shows in the video demonstration, you can make some areas pop with a brighter hue, followed by a simple muted tone for the next section.

Be sure to use different layouts for each section and mix it up with your column numbers and sizes.

SharePoint sections

Think about spacing.

Avoid cramming your pages full of content and instead separate out elements with spacers. A bonus tip to ensure your spacing is consistent throughout is to stick to a specific spacer size, for example, 20 pixels.

SharePoint spacing

Toggle Between Published and Edit Mode.

When editing a SharePoint site, it’s easy to get fixated on how it looks in Edit mode rather than what it will look like when finally published.

Switch between Published and Edit mode to give yourself a chance to step back and look at it through the eyes of your users.

Engaging content.

It’s all well and good creating an attractive SharePoint site, but you also need to ensure the content is relevant, engaging and adding value to your end-users if you want them to use the site consistently.

Think creatively and don’t be afraid to add some fun, light-hearted content in there.

As you can see from our demo video, Tony uses a Word of the Day web part and also a short message from the CEO. It’s about finding the balance between this type of content and your more serious stuff, like policies and company updates.

Engaging Content

Additionally, make sure your SharePoint site isn’t static is by adding the News web part that links in and pulls content from your company news pages so your readers will always have the latest articles and updates at their fingertips.

If you have any questions about creating SharePoint sites for your organisation, please get in touch with a member of our team right now.

SUGUK Leeds – Branding SharePoint using Application Customizers

Note: this is an updated blog post to include reference material and demos from the SUGUK meeting in Leeds on 5th September 2017.

I’ve been a SharePoint designer now for over 10 years. By designer, I mean changing the look and feel of SharePoint. Not just adding simple themes, but making SharePoint, “not look like SharePoint”.

It’s a common request for companies and schools to have an intranet or communication portal which reflects their brand and identity. Although Microsoft have come along in leaps and bounds in this area with out-of-the-box options, it’s still a common requirement for some deeper unique branding.

The ways in which we apply design customisations have changed over the years. From MasterPages and themes to custom actions, the landscape has been ever-changing but moving slowly towards JavaScript and client-side customisation.

The most recent SharePoint UI (modern experience) gives designers the opportunity to deploy custom headers and footers to all new SharePoint pages. To make these customisations, we need to use the new SharePoint framework. Projects are built using web stack tools and libraries such as Node.js, Yeoman and Gulp. I’ve provided an overview of these on previous blog posts last year:

Getting started with the new SharePoint framework

Creating a picture library slideshow using jQuery cycle

Demos from SUGUK Leeds on 5th September 2017.

DEMO 2 – Adding HTML and CSS to the Top placeholder

Demo 2 on Github

DEMO 3 – Add Google Analytics, Get Announcements using REST, Show Date and Time, Import jQuery and jQuery Cycle 2

Demo 3 on Github



Note: This is a new video for the release candidate of SharePoint framework extensions.

In the video above, I show how design has changed over the years and I create a new Application Customizer SharePoint framework extension using TypeScript and SASS for design purposes.

It’s an exciting time to be a SharePoint designer and the quicker these extensions are released as general availability, the better! We can then start updating customisations and switching clients over to the new pages.

Creating a simple Microsoft Flow for a SharePoint list

For anyone using the new style SharePoint lists, there is now a new action for Microsoft Flow integration. It’s a really cool product that integrates all the Office 365 products (and more) into your workflow.

SharePoint Designer workflows still have their place but the Microsoft Flow interface offers rich functionality and is easy to view and structure workflows.

One downside to using Microsoft Flow is the error messages. They come back as error messages from the REST API as headers which can be very confusing for non-technical users. SharePoint Designer errors were much clearer and easy to understand for general users.

In the video below, I go through quickly creating a Microsoft Flow from a new style SharePoint list in an Office 365 group site.



Gaining access to OneDrives within your organisation

Below I have created a quick guide to show you how to gain access to a user’s OneDrive within your organisation. This video is for SharePoint administrators and you will need to be at least a SharePoint admin in Office 365 to carry out these steps.

A OneDrive site is effectively a SharePoint site collection with a document library. When a OneDrive is created by the user in Office 365, it grants the user site collection admin rights. It doesn’t add any other administrators or groups to the permissions. You can do this manually using the steps shown in the video below or you could create a script to apply permissions to all of your OneDrive sites using the PowerShell Client Object Model.



Tag people in Office 365 videos

A new feature is available in the Office 365 video portal to tag people in videos. Not quite sure what this will be used for at the moment but I’m guessing that Delve will certainly be impacted by this new functionality. I’ve created a very quick video below to show you how it works.

You may also be interested in some of our other videos on the Office 365 portal:



Managing assignments in Microsoft Classroom

I’ve created a quick video to show the ease of setting and managing assignments in Office 365. My overall impression of assignment setting in Office 365 was good, however as you see in the video there are several random errors and UK MIS integration isn’t available at the moment (so this is only for advanced teachers who setup their own class groups).

Microsoft Classroom allows assignment setting and homework management. It can be used as part of a wider SharePoint portal hosted in Office 365. Please feel free to contact us for a demo of this at Cloud Design Box.



How to setup a class in Microsoft Classroom

In the video below, I go through the simple steps of setting up a class in Microsoft Classroom. It’s straightforward but does require teachers to manually setup and keep class membership up-to-date. Third party integration to MIS databases will be available soon in the UK (hopefully). In the meantime you can use a similar assignment system called Teacher Dashboard which has the option of syncing AD and Office 365 groups.

Microsoft Classroom is a great out-of-the-box product but doesn’t allow much customisation so you may want to think about some custom class and subject sites as part of your portal. Please feel free to contact us for a demo of these at Cloud Design Box.



Issues with the new SharePoint interface for document and picture libraries

Let’s start with the positive aspects of this new interface. It’s responsive and integrates really well into the OneDrive app for mobile devices. However there are currently a number of setbacks for users when switching to the new look interface. Users should consider it carefully before turning the new interface on at tenancy level or on a per user basis.

New Document and Picture Library

No JS Link property

Microsoft have mentioned that there is still some functionality to roll out, however they have not been specific about what that will include. A large number of businesses use JS Link to highlight data in a list or library and to add some custom actions at the item level. This is done using the Microsoft best practices of using client side JavaScript, however we are still awaiting this functionality in the new interface. New features are being added to the new interface such as content types and custom columns so we can only hope that this will also be added before the full implementation of the new interface in 2017.

No JS actions to brand the interface

A while ago I blogged about using JS instead of custom master pages to brand the look and feel. Again this is client side code and was Microsoft best practice, however this doesn’t seem to apply to the new view. The new look interface despite being modern and minimalist is bland and unbranded. Most companies/schools want branded intranets, they are always keen to get away from the “SharePoint” look. Although the new interface is modern and responsive, all of the pages look the same and it is possible that we will fall into the trap of looking like SharePoint again. Theming engines do not offer the bespoke customisation that most users require. The future of SharePoint event and videos did mention a chrome as part of the SharePoint framework so we can only hope that this is exposed to JS developers.

No image link in picture libraries

On occasions users require a link to a document or image inside a library. This used to be easy for users to do, open it up and copy the URL. This is no longer possible for an image library as each image opens up in a lightbox view. There are no options to get a link to the exact image, in fact there is an option called “get a link” but this shares the image and changes the permissions rather than giving a URL link (for users to use on a site or email).

These are the initial issues I have found with the new look interface. It seems to be have been rushed out to tenancies without investigation into how customers use library views within SharePoint. Although there is a benefit having a similar interface to OneDrive and having it work as a single page application, the fact that it is part of a SharePoint site and has that extra SharePoint functionality makes it usable to end users. The new views will run side by side until 2017, hopefully by then Microsoft will have resolved the issues and released the new SharePoint framework for Microsoft partners (due to go live in autumn 2016) to get developing branding and custom JS solutions.

UPDATE: 08/07/2016

Microsoft have released this update confirming that there is still functionality to be added to the new user experience. Looks very positive for JS links and other missing functionality: http://dev.office.com/blogs/update-on-modern-document-libraries-and-extensiblity