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Visionaries driving digital transformation and creating the modern workplace know the intelligent intranet is the heart of a digital workplace.  The intelligent intranet delivers experiences that provide shared content and solutions for collaboration, drives employee engagement and communications, and harnesses collective knowledge by connecting people and content.

 

Today at the SharePoint Conference, we announced SharePoint home sites, the latest innovation for the intelligent intranet, powered by Microsoft 365.

 

Home sites.pngIntroducing SharePoint home sites

SharePoint home sites are the landing sites for your organization that bring together news, events, content, conversations and video to deliver an engaging experience that reflects your voice, your priorities, and your brand.  Home sites are built on top of familiar communication sites.

 

Novartis is a leading global healthcare company committed to reimagining medicine. As part of its focused data and digital transformation, Novartis will launch a new global corporate intranet for its 100,000+ employees. The solution, built with Microsoft certified partner Wizdom, intends to use SharePoint Online and will embrace all relevant functions of Office 365 to fuel its digital ambitions. Novartis is excited to explore the new Home site capabilities, especially the improvements to search, cross-site navigation, organizational news and the mobile front page.” – Philip Martucci, Director Content & Channels, Novartis

 

Canvas_nextzen_screen.pngWizdom homesite site design

Home sites are natively responsive, so you can rest assured that every page will be beautiful, fast, and accessible on any device.  Coming later this year, a dedicated home button will allow one touch access to your home site in the SharePoint mobile app.  You can also configure your company logo in the Office 365 navbar to link to your home site. Doing this means your home site will always be one click away in any of the Microsoft 365 web applications.

 

one touch.pngOne touch access to your home site from anywhere in the SharePoint mobile app

custom theme.pngAdmins can configure a custom Microsoft 365 theme for their organization so that their company logo, i.e. Contoso Electronics, will take employees back to the home site from many Microsoft 365 web application. Support for larger images and additional file types has recently been added. Learn more here.

Admins can configure a custom Microsoft 365 theme for their organization so that their company logo, i.e. Contoso Electronics, will take employees back to the home site from many Microsoft 365 web application. Support for larger images and additional file types has recently been added. Learn more here.

 

News can come from many different sites in your organization but often you want to have an "official" or "authoritative" site for organization news. Home sites allow you to balance organization news, which is distinguished with a visual cue, with personalized, relevant content that can be targeted to employees.

 

organizational news sites.pngVisually highlight news from organizational news sites for employees

 

Engaging experiences are key to the intelligent intranet and home sites allow you easily embed conversations, video, and content from Microsoft 365 and more so you can connect with the information and activities that matter to you, across all your devices.

 

recommend viewing.pngIt’s easy to embed rich video from Microsoft Stream, conversations from Microsoft Yammer, or other social

Integrated search, powered by artificial intelligence, allows deeply personalized insights to be surfaced to make employees more productive and take advantage of the collective knowledge from your organization both inside and outside of Microsoft 365.

 

search1.pngMicrosoft search is fully integrated to allow employees Discover answers, insights and take actions in your modern workplace

 

Robust menu options, such as the recently released megamenu, allow you to create a visually engaging navigation experience that can show multiple levels at the same time.  This enables you to better organize and showcase the related content and sites from across your organization.

 

mega-menu.pngThe mega-menu allows you to show multiple levels at the same time, no fly-outs needed

Building a great looking home sites shouldn’t have to take months.  With the new organization design for communication sites, you have a great starter to get you going fast.  New page options, like a vertical column, and ever-increasing list of out of the box web parts provide additional design options to meet your needs with less development time.

 

Once you have built your communication site how you like it, as the admin you can make it a home site with a simple PowerShell command.  That PowerShell command will automate all the essential configurations for you:

  • The site is configured as an official organizational news site.
  • Search scope is set to tenant wide for the home site.
  • Enables one click access from the SharePoint mobile app.
  • Automatically connected to the SharePoint start page.

The SharePoint start page is connected to your home site with the My SharePoint link, and carries your home site branding to allow your employees to transition seamlessly between their “we space” and their “me space” with the “My SharePoint” link.  Having personalized and relevant content is key to the success of the home site and we are making it easy by providing several out-of-box user personalized webparts and the integrated experience with SharePoint start page.

 

SharePoint home sites empowers you to create beautiful, fast, natively mobile, digital experiences for organizations, divisions or functions with just a few clicks.  To see these technologies in action, watch the SharePoint Conference 2019 keynote, and check out the other posts today to the SharePoint community blogWe are excited to see what you will create.

 

28 Comments
New Contributor

Will you provide a way to convert automatically root team site in classic experience to this beauty ? 😁

Microsoft

Here is quick FAQ on Home sites. 

 

  1. What exactly is a SharePoint home site ?
    1. A SharePoint home site is a communication site that is designed and designated to serve as the top portal in an organization. A communication site with some extra superpowers, so to speak
  2. How do I get a SharePoint home site ?
    1. A SharePoint tenant admin can designate any communication site, built to be the landing page for your organization, to be the Home site. Initially it will be a simple powershell experience and will soon be added to the modern SPO admin portal. 
  3. What is special about a Home site?
    1. Setting up a home site
      1. Automatically marks the news from that site as organizational news
      2. Automatically configures search in that site to be tenant wide
      3. Creates a shared branding with the SP start page
      4. Enables a special SP mobile app experience for that site
      5. ..more such unique experiences to be rolled out in the near future 

4. Can there be multiple SharePoint home sites?

a) For now we only support one per tenant, but we’d like to hear about your scenarios requiring multiple top level portals

5. What is the difference between a hubs and home site?

a) Hubs and Home sites are added functionalities to our two modern site types Team and Communication.

A hub is used organize sites with a shared theming, navigation, search and news roll ups.

A home site serves as the top level portal with unique functionality like special SP mobile treatment, organizational news, tenant wide search, integration with SP start page, etc.

6. Can a home site be a hub as well ?

a. Absolutely ! Check it out in the Microsoft Sites and Intranet booth at SPC

7. Isn’t there a SharePoint home already ?

a. Its now the SharePoint start page. It’s the OOB SharePoint page powered by graph intelligence available for all users . It’s a personalized way finding and resources tool and it will continue serving its purpose. SharePoint home site, on the other hand, is an organization’s top portal. It’s a carefully crafted collection of news, content, conversations and video to deliver an engaging experience that reflects an organization’s voice, priorities and brand.

8. When can I get SharePoint home sites ?

a. We are targeting Q3 time frame for starting roll out.

should be able to convert it to comm site then to thhis?

Frequent Contributor

Interesting announcement @Brad McCabe ! I'm sure a SharePoint Home Site helps to get up intranet/portal functionality more quickly. 

Thanks for the FAQ on Home Sites @DC Padur , that provided most of the additional clarity I was looking for :)

 

One thing: As far as I understand a SharePoint Home Site is set up by a SharePoint admin, so a SharePoint admin can decide which regular and personalized web parts will be put on a page. For most of our customers where we set up their intranet, they are totally happy with this. However, sometimes I get requests from customers who want their employees to be able to configure the landing page of the intranet by themselves, so they want them to be able to configure the page on their own. They want them to be able to add or remove functionality, so they want to give them options to add or remove web parts by themselves. Think of it as in the old SharePoint days what was available as the "Personalize this page" functionality. Is that kind of functionality also expected to become available in SharePoint Home Sites?

Microsoft

Great question @Harold van de Kamp ! We are exploring end user customizable experiences for Home sites. Would love to learn more. Do those customers want the entire intranet home page to be customizable by the end user ? How does the admin have any control over who sees what ? 


I think something like the main content area to be corporate setup and maybe the right rail or a few other sections could be customizable. 

 

Anyway i I read and heard that the “My SharePoint” link going on home sites will point to an updated SharePoint start page with some customization options for the user as well.  

Regular Visitor

@DC Padur  Is the PowerShell command to convert classic root sites into modern sites included in these announcements?

New Contributor
Use case for more than one home site per tenant. I'm thinking that a LARGE organisation which has reasonably self sufficient divisions might want organisational home site but also home sites for each division. Same thinking for hierarchical hub sites. The division sites above are still going to want to feed their news up to the tenant home site.
Occasional Visitor

Will this be available on premises sometime?

 

Greetings Bernd

Regular Visitor

Use case for more than one home site per tenant: Educational organisations would like to have multiple home sites. At least one homesite for employees (teachers) and one homesite for students because of the different site/menu structures involved. Unless the megamenu is able to support links that are only shown when someone has access to a site (at least read), the need for multiple home-sites is evident.

Frequent Visitor

Nice !

Look like these home sites will be able to use full screen width ! Will this be available to all pages/sites?

Regular Visitor

I would be interested to know where the thinking is going... Important for us to start planning how we will use them. Currently we are using hub sites for departmental intranets/workspaces. That works great as we have one hub site that manages the look and feel across several comms sites, community sites and team sites. Same MO for all departments and we are fairly pleased with it.

 

In terms of the Home sites, this would make sense as the root site collection of each tenant. But it is critical that it sits above Hub sites and Comms sites. So a heirarchy if you will. This is important to ensure that the organizational content and mega menu of the home site is always up top, then the hub menu and then the comm site menus as you change context. That's a lot of menus, but I leave the mechanics to clever people at MS. But for me home sites should definitely cater to this reality that I think many of us have created by now. It would be terrible to lose the home site menu when you go to a hub site. Already navigating the various apps on O365 is painful. For a real digital workplace experience, it would be good to make SP the hub of everything and allow a menu item that goes to those apps and the apps load under the home site or hub menu. I hate it, and users do too, when you lose context suddenly. But I can imagine it is not as straightforward as it would seem!

 

 

New Contributor

I'm hoping this will be addressed as we get closer to the launch, but I'm looking forward to information about what happens to the Classic site that is currently the root.  We have a Classic Team Site set as a root with other subsites.  Is that structure maintained so that we can get access to it, or do we lose all of that?

Senior Member

So....What is the PowerShell command to convert a communication site to a Home Site?

Frequent Contributor

@Michael EldredEnable-SPOCommSite - this command was supposed to go live for Targeted Release for everyone tenants after the 15th, but I'm still waiting on it to go live on our tenancy. Very eager to try it out! https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powershell/module/sharepoint-online/Enable-SPOCommSite 

Frequent Contributor

@DC Padurhaving a partially customizable experience for the end user would be sufficient already. Just like @Chris Webb described, a combination of a corporate setup part and a end user customizable part would be great!

New Contributor

Hello @Brad McCabe and @DC Padur , Great innovation :) Thank you! Just want to clarify, the tenant root site can be both Hub and Home at the same time? 

New Contributor

How configurable is all this?  Can you configure the individual webparts on these pages, can they be rearranged? What about things like audience targeting so that different groups see different content in certain website (e.g. specific to that department or group?).  This looks like a traditional 'catch-all' intranet homepage, the value of which some would argue is diminishing rapidly  because of increasing role of AI/tech making tools and content more relevant to its users.

@Rory2019 this is essentially just a more promoted communication site. You still edit it just like a comm site etc. The difference mostly comes in it's over arching reach of replacing the Logo for your 365 suite bar and landing page when clicking SharePoint instead of the start page that is there now allowing orgs to use it as more an official landing page to get back too easily. 

 

I myself in 2 orgs have used comm sites in this manner and never use the start page and really excited to see this as all our browsers etc. would point to the stand alone comm site (hub) with the company content. But having a more official landing page will be a a win when it comes to being pointed there across office 365 and mobile apps instead of the current sort of work around method you have to use today. 

Occasional Contributor

Multiple Home sites for me would mean each division gets a home site. And then these are hooked together on the Root site (intranet) via Links (mega menu). Below those home sites you would have Comm sites regarding the Topics/projects/Teams they have and then on to the Teams/SP sites. And the Home sites would be run by the Key users of the divisions. Sounds pretty good to me.

Occasional Visitor

In case you all didn't hear about it at SPC 2019, along with SharePoint Home Site, they mentioned a lot of other things in the works as well that affect a lot of the above questions and requests...

  • Assign a site collection as root (basically, change your root site) - coming soon
  • Multiple Home Sites - being worked on, probably coming after initial launch
  • Better filtering of News pages that can point to all sites in your tenant. - coming soon
  • Hero News Web part (show the news items as hero images like the current image hero webpart) - coming soon
  • My SharePoint (SharePoint Home, will be a featured link on the Home Site Nav bar and could solve a lot of requests for a personalization home site) - part of SharePoint Home Site launch
  • Universal search on the O365 bar that allows kql queries.  (badly needed for my environment!)

*Not mentioned!

  • Conversion of a root site to communication site or home site. (An MS dev told me the SPFX framework of modern pages makes this next to impossible)
  • Nothing about on-prem SharePoint getting these features.
  • "Assign a site collection as root (basically, change your root site) - coming soon"

 

I can say this is live, at least in some targeted release tenants. I just set a comm site I had as the root site collection. Pretty nifty. 

Senior Member

Thanks @Chris Webb for the heads up re root site updates. It hasn't hit my O365 E3 Enterprise yet but hopefully will within the next few days.

Frequent Contributor

According to trent-green on this article for Enable-SPOCommSite: https://github.com/MicrosoftDocs/office-docs-powershell/issues/3470 rollout of the command has been delayed until at least Q3 due to feedback from early adopters. @Chris Webb Looks like you were one of the lucky ones , it never hit my tenancy even though I was in Targeted Release. We're chomping at the bit for this feature.

That's not the one I'm talking about. I'm talking about 

  • Invoke-SPOSiteSwap 

This allows you to swap out the root site collection with another site and archive the root site somewhere. Worked for me. Keep in mind thou seems the comm site I moved to replace the root old URL's no longer work, but the root site is infact replaced with the site I moved to it and it's a comm site. 

Occasional Visitor
Hello Chris, - How did you manage to get Invoke-SPOSiteSwap to work? When I use the command with SharePoint OnIine, I keeps getting "Invoke-SPOSiteSwap : SwapSite operation not yet supported".

Dunno, I tried it on my production tenant yesterday and got the same thing, must be a rollout thing. 

Occasional Visitor
Chris I'm curious: Were any of the sites (involved in your successful swap) Hubs? if so how did it work out for you?