Tag Archives: SharePoint Design

A communications portal for Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB with Microsoft 365

Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB) worked with Cloud Design Box to build a centralised communication and collaboration portal in Microsoft SharePoint and Teams.  

In this webinar, we speak to Marcella O’Dowd (FET Quality Assurance at DDLETB) about the impact the portal is having on the way people work together in the organisation. 

“DDLETB has responsibility for a variety of education and training services, serving a population of nearly 800,000 people and delivering education and training to approximately 70,000 learners,” Marcella explains.

“We serve a network of around 650 schools, colleges, centres and outreach and community-based settings.” 



Previously, DDLETB had a Google site called Cloud ETB that housed all the Quality Assurance (QA) and curriculum documentation.

“The Google site was a repository to house material. All the FET (Further Education and Training) users had the same access password that offered two access choices: editor or reader,” she continues. 

“This presented a few problems. It wasn’t as secure as we wanted it to be, and we had one instance where someone changed the password so no one could get in to access what they needed.” 

We worked with DDLETB to create a new QA Hub in SharePoint.

Recognising that the team needed a solution that went beyond file storage, we built a portal that encourages communication and collaboration. 

The QA Hub home page. A communications portal for Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB with Microsoft 365

“The exciting thing about the new QA hub is that it provides tailored, secure access to everything our further education and training services need, whether that’s downloading a module descriptor, getting programme information, accessing policies and procedures, looking at assessment guidelines or checking when the next committee meetings are happening,” Marcella enthuses. 

“It’s no longer just a repository. It’s a communication and collaboration site. It’s a one-stop-shop for any QA needs.” 

One thing that was particularly important to DDLETB was strict version control of documents:

“To give an example, we currently need to make sure the DDLETB LGBTQA+ Handbook, policies and publications are available. This will be housed on the QA Hub, ready for people to access the most up-to-date version,” she confirms.

The QA Uploader. A communications portal for Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB with Microsoft 365

The QA Uploader is another way we’ve helped DDLETB save time and reduce the risk of human error. 

Previously, users would need to download a template from the Google site, fill it out and then send an email to the QA team.

“Our team would have to monitor the email account and check to see if new reports had been submitted. We would then have to re-upload them into the right folders, which was time-consuming and it was easy for emails to go astray when we were monitoring multiple inboxes.” 

“With the QA uploader, the users simply upload their reports directly to the QA Hub and choose the right report type and training centre. This sends us a notification and the file is already stored in the correct, secure folder that can only be accessed by people with the right permissions.” 

The QA Hub Calendar. A communications portal for Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB with Microsoft 365

Tedious admin tasks are also being reduced and communication improved by the QA Hub’s new calendar. 

There are a large number of FET and QA dates each year that are usually sent out as a list at the beginning of each academic year, with reminders sent out as dates and deadlines approach. 

“We get a barrage of emails asking when the next course approval or committee meeting is. Previously, we’d have to go to a document with a list of the dates and respond to each email,” Marcella reveals.

“The new calendar feature makes things so much easier. All we need to do is send a link to the calendar. We’ve already seen a huge difference in the number of emails coming in, as people are just going straight to the calendar to check for dates, rather than emailing.”

QA News section. A communications portal for Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB with Microsoft 365

DDLETB is using the SharePoint News feature to communicate key information and announcements:

“Having the ability to pop announcements into the QA News is great because everybody who needs to know gets an email about it. What’s more, they don’t need to flag emails or save them into folders because they know they can come to the QA Hub and find the information.”

QA News is also automatically displayed on the SharePoint home pages of FET and QA staff.

With such a big change in the way DDLETB works, there were some reservations about moving from the Google Cloud ETB site to Microsoft 365. However, the feedback so far has been extremely positive.

“With Cloud Design Box’s support, the new workflows make a lovely user experience that is easy for us to manage and support. We needed this to be user-friendly and intuitive and ‘intuitive’ is a word that has been mentioned by users when we’ve asked for feedback,” enthuses Marcella.

“We wanted our users to be no more than three clicks away from whatever they needed. Our users love the layout and the simplicity of it and love the fact they can do everything on one site.”

Our work with DDLETB is part of a wider initiative called the DEIS Connect Project. We have also worked with St Kevin’s Community College and Firhouse Community College (both part of DDLETB) to provision teaching and learning environments. 

If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform, book a free demo today.  

How to add your upcoming events to a SharePoint site with the My Events web part

In this guide, we show you how to add the Cloud Design Box exclusive My Events web part to your SharePoint sites.  

The My Events web part gives you a quick glance at your upcoming events by showing your calendar events from Outlook.  

It would sit perfectly on a home page so users can see their calendar items at a glance whenever they log in.

An example of the My Events web part on a SharePoint homepage

How to add the My Events web part to a SharePoint site. 

Before you add this web part, you need to make sure your Office 365 global admin has approved the Calendars Read API permission. This can be done via the SharePoint admin centre.



 

  1. Head to the site you wish to add it to and hit Edit in the top-right corner of the screen. 
  2. Decide where you want your calendar events to appear on the site and hit the plus button to add a new web part.
  3. Search for “CDB My Events” and Cloud Design Box customers should be able to see our CDB My Events web part.

Search for My Events to find the web part in SharePoint

4. Selecting this will show your personal calendar events for the day.

5. Select Republish in the top-right hand corner. 

With this web part, you can flick back and forth through the days of your calendar.  

An example of the My Events web part in SharePoint

You can also select Open My Calendar to open a full view of your calendar in Outlook. 

An example of an Outlook calendar that can by accessed via the My Events SharePoint web part

There is also a privacy mode which will initially hide the events. This is particularly useful if you are a teacher with sensitive events and you regularly share your screen on a projector. This mode can be configured using the pencil icon when editing the web part.

web part properties

The My Events web part for SharePoint is only available to Cloud Design Box customers. If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help improve communication and collaboration in your school or MAT, book a free demo today. 

How to add an FAQ web part to a SharePoint page

In this guide, we show you how to add the Cloud Design Box Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Web Part to your SharePoint sites.

The FAQ web part is an extremely versatile addition to any SharePoint site and can be customised to create an interactive FAQs section to help give quick guidance to your users.  

What’s more, it’s searchable, allowing users to type in a question and quickly get an answer.  

The Cloud Design Box FAQ web part on a SharePoint site

One example of the FAQ web part being particularly useful is for IT Help sites. Simply make a list of your most common questions and add them to the web part. It can be really useful for onboarding new staff to SharePoint.  

Meanwhile, it can also be used on teaching and learning sites, guiding students on how to use SharePoint to find their learning resources.  

Below, we show you how to add the FAQ web part to your SharePoint sites – it only takes a minute or two.  



How to add the FAQ web part to your SharePoint site.

  1. Head to the site you wish to add it to and hit Edit in the top-right corner of the screen.  

Note: You need Designer access to be able to do this.  

  1. Decide where you want your FAQ section to appear on the site and hit the plus button to add a new web part.
  2. Search for “FAQ” and Cloud Design Box customers should be able to see our FAQ web part. Search for FAQ on the SharePoint web part options
  3. Select Republish in the top-right hand corner. An example question and answer section will appear.

How to add questions and answers to the FAQ web part. 

  1. Select the cogs icon to open SharePoint settings.
  2. Choose Site contents and you will see there’s now an FAQs folder stored here.Via Settings, go into Site Contents to add a new FAQ
  3. Select the list to add a new FAQ.The FAQ folder in Site Contents on SharePoint
  4. Select + New to add a new FAQ. You can add a question (Title) and answer.

There’s also an option to enter an order number. For example, ‘1’ if you wish this question to appear first.  

Additionally, you can choose to add an attachment.  

Add a new question and answer to the FAQ web part in SharePoint

    5. Hit Save to save the question.

Your FAQs will now appear on the SharePoint site and be visible and searchable for any users with access to that site.

An example FAQ web part on a SharePoint page 

The FAQ web part for SharePoint is only available to Cloud Design Box customers. If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help improve communication and collaboration in your school or MAT, book a free demo today.  

How to see exactly who has viewed your documents in SharePoint – SharePoint Viewers feature

Have you ever wanted to see exactly who has viewed a document and when? In this guide, Tony demonstrates the SharePoint Viewers feature, which allows you to see who has viewed your documents in SharePoint.  




By default, when you hover over a document in SharePoint, it shows how many people have viewed the file. But, it doesn’t show you who those people are.

Example of hovering over a document in SharePoint to see view count

However, if you change the settings for your SharePoint site, you can easily see who has accessed your files.

This feature is handy for organisations who have policy documents or other important documents stored in SharePoint, as you can see who has opened and viewed the file.

You need to be a Site Collection Administrator or ask your IT Administrator to turn on this feature.  

  1. Go to Settings (the cog in the right-hand corner) and select Site information. Go to Site Settings in SharePoint to turn on SharePoint Viewers feature
  2. Select View all site settings.
  3. Open Manage site features.Go to Manage Site Features to turn on SharePoint Viewers feature
  4. Scroll down the list of site features and look for the SharePoint Viewers feature.
  5. Select Activate to turn on the SharePoint Viewers feature. This is then turned on for all the files in your selected SharePoint site.Scroll down the list of site features and look for the SharePoint Viewers feature.

Here’s an example of a policy library in SharePoint where the SharePoint Viewers feature is activated.  

As you can see, when you hover over the document, you can see exactly who has viewed the document and when they viewed it.  

An example of a policy library in SharePoint where the SharePoint Viewers feature is activated.

If you click through on X Views, you can see a timeline of when people have viewed the document and compare unique views with the total number of views.

Viewer graph in SharePoint

What is Microsoft Viva Connections? – Integrating a SharePoint intranet with Teams

Microsoft Viva Connections is a great way to communicate and publish information to users in Microsoft Teams. If you are already familiar with SharePoint, then the simple way of describing Viva Connections is “A SharePoint Intranet inside a Microsoft Teams App”. It means that users can access company news, policies, and other published information without having to leave Teams.

Viva connections - SharePoint in Teams App

During the pandemic, Teams has been an important communication tool for organisations. Users can chat and collaborate as they work in the office or from home. However, to access published organisation information such as news, policies, human resources, etc, users would have to open a browser and go to the organisation intranet. Viva connections brings all of this inside the Teams app to help streamline the organisation’s working practice.

How to setup Viva Connections.

In this video, we show you what Viva Connections looks like and how to set it up. Please note that Viva Connections requires a SharePoint intranet before setting up. If you need help with SharePoint or Teams, get in touch with one of our experts.



Access the Microsoft guide here.

If you would like to find out more about how Cloud Design Box can help you get more out of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, contact one of our experts today.


Cloud Design Box

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.

Office 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 2 – Learning From Experience with Gareth Rose.

We understand that seamless user adoption of Office 365 and SharePoint can prove tricky, with many hurdles to jump before your whole organisation is fully on board.

That’s why we’re creating a series of podcasts focusing on real-life user adoption stories, with schools, academies and businesses just like yours.

The second episode features Tony Phillips, Cloud Design Box Founder, and Gareth Rose, Assistant Headteacher at Notley High School & Braintree Sixth Form.

Gareth’s experience with user adoption in schools is unique as he has already been through the process of rolling out Office 365, Teams, SharePoint and Class Notebook at his former workplace, Dagenham Park Church of England School.

We spoke with Gareth to find out what tools and techniques he is going to reuse when introducing the Microsoft suite to the staff and pupils at Notley High School.



Create champions.

“My first piece of advice is to get people to become champions of the product. Get the RE teacher to understand the value in putting all their class resources online and show the Music teacher how pupils can annotate in OneNote,” Gareth enthuses.

Starting out with small, basic tasks, Gareth got to know the main pain points of departments and the word spread from there.

“You can see the spark in their eyes when you’ve saved them 20 minutes of time using a basic feature of Office 365.”

Give them no choice.

“A very quick win is changing everyone’s home page to the staff or pupil SharePoint. This gets people familiar with the technology and helps them to become comfortable with using it in the future,” Gareth continues.

“Make it so it’s the only way to access some resources, such as the lunchtime duty rota. When people start to see how beneficial it is to have one calendar that is regularly updated, rather than multiple emails with multiple versions, they begin to gain confidence in the system.”

From here, Gareth explains, the word ‘SharePoint’ was being banded around the staffroom and uttered in staff meetings. By getting people to engage with the platform, you can raise their confidence when it comes to moving more activities across to Office 365.

Have an open-door policy.

“Of course, giving people only one choice when accessing certain documents is risky. But, explain to people, if they have any issues, they can come and see you,” he points out.

“At Dagenham Park, I would sit in with teachers on the first few lessons to get them and their pupils properly set up. In a couple of sessions, teachers and students were writing digital notes and recording their voices in French – incredible to see.”

Working with members of staff and pupils in this way also allows you to understand the many ways in which Office 365 and SharePoint can help enhance the teaching and learning experience.

“After this, it’s kind of like a rolling stone,” Gareth highlights.

“I can see a time in the future where all pupils have iPads. We’ve seen schools hand out devices to their students, but without an ecosystem in which they can actually use them in. What we’re building here is an environment where everyone is on board and using the features of Office 365 to their full potential.”

Final, takeaway points from Gareth:

  • Create and identify champions of Office 365 and SharePoint.
  • Get to know ways in which individuals and departments could benefit from using the suite.
  • Change the homepage and make some resources available only on SharePoint.
  • Be prepared to offer support and answer any questions people have.
  • Design an ecosystem in which people can use Office 365.

If you have any questions about user adoption, or how Office 365 and SharePoint could transform your workspace, school or academy, please get in touch with Cloud Design Box today.

Branding SharePoint using Application Customizers

Collab365 Global Conference

Have you heard about the virtual Collab365 Global Conference 2017 that’s streaming online November 1st – 2nd?

Join me and 120 other speakers from around the world who will be bringing you the very latest content around SharePoint, Office 365, Flow, PowerApps, Azure, OneDrive for Business and of course the increasingly popular Microsoft Teams. The event is produced by the Collab365 Community and is entirely free to attend.

Places are limited to 5000 so be quick and register now.

During the conference I’d love you to watch my session which is called : ‘Branding SharePoint using Application Customizers’

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. In this session, I will go through the SharePoint design technique changes over the years and finish with an example of the most recent SharePoint UI (modern experience). Using the new SharePoint framework, we will build a simple Application Customizer to apply a custom header and footer. This project will be built using web stack tools and libraries such as Node.js, Yeoman and Gulp.

If you join me, you will learn:

  • How to create a new application customizer
  • Using the application customizer to apply branding to modern sites
  • History of SharePoint design
  • Introduction to SASS and TypeScript

Topic(s):

  • Office365
  • SharePoint

Audience :

  • Developer

Time (in UTC) :

  • Thursday, November 2 2017 12:00 Noon

How to attend :

  1. Register here.
  2. At the time listed above go here to watch my session. (you can also add me to your own personal planner from the agenda.
  3. Be ready to take notes!