At Ignite 2017, we announced the next wave of innovation coming to SharePoint communication sites to provide more design control with layout and content expression, social engagement with promotion, commenting and likes, and increased visibility on how your content is being used.
You can create communication sites in seconds. They are perfect for internal cross-company campaigns, weekly and monthly reports or status updates, product launches, events and more. And by default, your communication site looks great on the web, on PC or Mac, on mobile browsers, and in the SharePoint mobile app. You focus more on your message, the layout and organization of content, and worry less about how they look in Web and mobile.
Build beautiful communication sites in seconds and more easily refine your message with powerful web parts and page layouts.
Communication sites give you more of what you need to display and share your message broadly. Let’s dive into the details.
Spread the news, email news digests and overall page improvements
There is no better way to create data-rich, dynamic updates and announcements throughout your organization than with SharePoint news and pages. It is easy to create and layout your news and pages, and connect them to powerful sources of content and information in ways that keep them always up-to-date and available to be discovered by new people and found via powerful enterprise search.
Promote – Once your news is created, it’s important to then amplify and spread the news. SharePoint makes that a one-click action. From a new or existing news article, click the Promote button and choose how you want to increase the reach and impact of your message. You can add a page or news to the site navigation, post a page as news to have it automatically flow into SharePoint home and the SharePoint mobile app News tab, and quickly send an email to a person or group.
Email a news digest – Increase the reach of and combine select news articles into one consolidated email update. From the full list of news articles, select specific news items, click Send news digest to send an email to a group or individuals with clean previews and links to the full news articles.
Send select news article as news digests in email in just a few clicks.
Start with a copy of this page – Don’t start from blank! If you have a series of pages you’ve created with a similar layout and design, you can now go to an existing page and use it as a quick start to create a whole new page – but with a head start. From an existing page, click New and then select Start with a copy of this page. The service will create the new page and you simply jump into updating with new text, images and content updates, with layout, design and common text already in place.
Page animation – To keep your reader, you must delight your user. You will do this with good content and messaging and we will help with beautiful, new page animations using parallax views that keep the eye engaged as readers scroll the page. It’s the little things, and it’s delightful.
Mobile notifications for news articles – when an important, relevant news article is posted by someone in your close sphere of work – derived from the intelligence of the Microsoft Graph, you will receive a notification on your mobile device, from SharePoint within your device’s notification tray. When you click on the notification, you are taken directly into the SharePoint mobile app to view the news article. Don’t go hunting for the good news, good news will find you.
SharePoint news notifications appear in your notification tray and take you right to the full news article within the SharePoint mobile app.
New web parts with updated search and usability from the authoring toolbox
Communication sites dynamically pull in content from across Office 365. To do this dynamically, and with flexibility, SharePoint pages use web parts, which you can configure to your needs. You can add files, videos, images, news, Yammer feeds and more. Just click the + sign and pick a web part from the toolbox to add content to your page. The toolbox itself has been updated to expand and more easily find the right web part by category or search.
The updated authoring toolbox can be expanded and uses search to more easily find the right web part quickly.
The team has been hard at work developing new web parts and updating existing ones:
- Planner - View Planner plans inside SharePoint pages and news with visual Kanban task layouts and beautiful plan overviews.
- Microsoft Forms – Create your survey at forms.office.com, grab the final Share URL and display your surveys right within the SharePoint user interface. You can choose to show the results after the user submits the form, too.
- Group calendar – display your Office 365 group’s upcoming and past calendar meetings and events.
- File viewer – Beautifully, visually highlight over 270+ file types from within SharePoint pages and news article. This web part is an update (+ name change) to the Document web part, and continues to support embedding Word, Excel and PPT, and now renders PDFs, 3D models, medical images, and more.
- Twitter – bring in live tweets from chosen Twitter handles, specific collections or via search keywords. It’s always nice to show the live context of what’s being said externally right alongside the context of what you are working on internally.
- Spacer & Divider – simple web parts that give you the ability to add physical space between web parts, or a visual line in between.
- Yammer – Now out of preview, the Yammer web part can be programmed to showcase a Yammer group discussion, and it looks great in the Web layout of SharePoint pages and news articles and when viewed within the SharePoint mobile app (iOS, Android and Windows Mobile).
- Image – You can pull in Bing Images that utilize the Creative Common license to enhance your pages and news (you are prompted to review the image licensing). You, too, can pull images directly from a specific document library. And once your images are on the page, you can edit them inline with simple gestures like adjusting the ratio and cropping.
- Text – the rich text editor web part now gives you greater control for how your text appears. From the simple command bar within the web part, select the ellipses to display the broader set of choices in the edit pane, like font colors and highlights, plus table creation and editing.
- People – a new Descriptive display shows more profile information with room to add custom links and descriptions per person.
- Events – greater control of the preferred date range to show upcoming events, plus the ability to see each instance of recurring events.
- Highlighted content – Ability to choose from a specific document library as the source, more design and layout choices like Filmstrip and Masonry, plus additional filtering mechanism to refine by document type and control metadata mapping to influence the display of the search-based results within the web part.
Learn more about using web parts on pages and news; this article highlights all web parts that are in production for SharePoint in Office 365.
As you consider updating and expanding your intranet, we know SharePoint will be an essential element to support you and your communications into the future. Let us know what you need next. We are always open to feedback via UserVoice and continued dialog in the SharePoint community in the Microsoft Tech Community —and we always have an eye on tweets to @SharePoint. Let us know.
—Mark Kashman, senior product manager for the SharePoint team
Note: you can now view the corresponding Ignite 2017 session video on-demand, “Inform and engage employees with SharePoint communications sites and news” by Mark Kashman & Andy Haon [#BRK2207].
Q: When can I expect to see the above-mentioned innovation within my Office 365 tenant?
A: What is mentioned above in this post will begin to rollout to Office 365 First Release customers before the end of calendar year 2017.