SharePoint has always been at the core of collaboration – people working together on files, lists, and libraries. Our customer stories, like Shire Pharmaceuticals, share insights into the value of intranets that connect people and information seamlessly across use cases: from collaboration on to communication. Today, we are excited to usher in a new generation of the mobile and intelligent intranet, allowing you to communicate to people throughout your organization with beautiful, dynamic, mobile-ready communication sites and pages that keep everyone informed and engaged.
“The more we facilitate our employees to get information faster, to be more productive, the more that they can do to push therapies towards our patients." -- Nicole Rojas - Head of Digital Communications, Shire. Please review the full Shire video case study and learn more about their intranet they call The Hub.
Communication sites and related features will be released this coming summer. Let’s look at how they’ll work.
Create beautiful, dynamic communication sites
It is easy to move from working on the details of a project or campaign collaboratively in team sites to create broad-reach communication sites. Like SharePoint team sites, new communication sites are created in seconds by clicking Create site on SharePoint home in Office 365. It is then easy to adjust page layouts and add web parts and to pull in valuable data and content from other services, like conversations from Yammer and videos from Microsoft Stream. The result is a vibrant, interactive, dynamic experiences for your site visitors.
A communication site shown in a desktop Web browser (left) and in the SharePoint mobile app (right). Features include a consistent logo, top navigation, page layouts, and new web parts: Hero, News, Events, Microsoft Stream, Yammer, and People (with more to come).
After the site is created, you create your pages – layering in your content, exactly how you want it to appear. You select from single and multi-column layouts, leveraging dynamic web parts connected to various Office 365 services. Organizing and reorganizing web parts is easy, just drag and drop to tell your story the way you want.
When you create a communication site from SharePoint home in Office 365, you can choose from several site templates.
Communication sites dynamically pull in content from across Office 365. You have the right tools to design sites for upcoming events, campaigns, or product launches, report sites for teams to share their insights and expertise on topics, and many other scenarios where the key goal is to communicate effectively and broadly without barriers.
When you create a communication site, you are presented with several helpful tools:
Section layouts | You can use a variety of multi-column section layouts on your pages, to arrange information side-by-side – like an important video from Microsoft Stream to the left of a related Power BI dashboard. The page authoring toolbox has new Section layout choices.
Web Parts | You can use web parts to bring content and information from across Office 365 into your pages. Five new web parts will let you better inform and engage the audience of your communication site:
The Hero web part highlights important content
The People web part showcases notable members of the team
The Events web part calls out important upcoming events and lets you easily them to your calendar
The Microsoft Stream web part presents a gallery of videos from a Stream channel.
Theming | Preview and apply custom styling and colors to your sites. IT administrators can manage the custom themes that are available to the organization.
Top navigation | Make it easy for visitors to get to important pages with the top navigation. Click Edit to add, arrange, and modify menus and submenus.
Site usage | How is your site doing? Review charts and reports that show daily unique user trends, most active readers, and page views. These insights are right at your fingertips. Click the upper-right gear and select Site usage.
Custom web parts | If you’re a developer, you can use the SharePoint Framework (SPFx) to create fast, modern, client-side user experiences and web parts that authors can add to their pages in communication sites.
Reach and engage your audience
When you publish a page, you can be confident that your page reaches your audience wherever they are, no matter what device they are on. Your communication site looks great on the web, on PC or Mac, on mobile browsers, and in the SharePoint app. It, too, is easy to share communication sites and pages with others via email – just like you would share a document via the built-in share button in the upper right of the page.
Add the Yammer web part to engage your audience, to spark conversation, to encourage best practice sharing, and to solicit feedback. The Yammer web part embeds the feed from any Yammer group or topic into a SharePoint page in the browser. A new web part, coming this summer, will bring that experience to mobile devices as well.
A community built with a SharePoint communication site, including a web part showcasing featured community members, and an informative chart alongside a related Yammer discussion.
Collaborate and communicate throughout your intranet
With the combination of team sites connected to Office 365 groups and the reach of communication sites, SharePoint gives you the tools to collaborate, inform and engage, with a few core people or with broader audiences across the organization. Throughout the lifecycle of your projects, your launches, and your internal campaigns, the SharePoint intranet helps you move seamlessly from concept to final product – all with powerful, dynamic user experiences that do what you want them to do to clearly communicate your message throughout your company.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When will communication sites be available in Office 365?
A: Communication sites will begin roll out to Office 365 First Release customers Q2 CY 2017, with full worldwide rollout scheduled for Q3 CY 2017. This includes the five new web parts, section layouts, theming, editable navigation and the new site usage page. The same innovations will be available in SharePoint team sites, as well.
Q: How do communication sites compare to intranet sites based on the classic SharePoint publishing infrastructure?
A: Communication sites are complimentary to the sites and portals you’ve built using the SharePoint publishing infrastructure. The publishing infrastructure continues to be supported both on-premises and online. Communication sites are out-of-box sites you can use for internal campaigns, reports, product launches, and other scenarios that address broad audiences across the organization. Communication sites are easy to create: they require no code or design expertise. Simply point-and-click to add pages and parts. Communication sites are mobile-ready by default, looking great across browsers and devices, and in the SharePoint mobile app. For scenarios that go beyond those supported by communication sites today, Microsoft’s vibrant partner community has great expertise and offers services and tools that can help you build your mobile, intelligent intranet with SharePoint in Office 365.