The evolution and benefits of the modern SharePoint experience

Two women chatting by a desk

Microsoft SharePoint is currently going through the biggest change in its 18-year history with the overhaul of its content editing, user experience, modern development techniques and architectural updates. This is an exciting time to be considering updating or migrating to SharePoint especially with the introduction of the modern SharePoint experience.

The journey

SharePoint has had a difficult journey and gained a bad reputation. Some of this has been down to poor implementations, a lack of engagement and adoption with users and no thought for ongoing governance and support. However, some of this was also down to the platform itself. As applications and user experience improved in our personal lives, business applications started to lag. While SharePoint remained an excellent platform for document management and had all the tools required to effectively do the job, the user experience for end users quickly fell behind. Luckily, the introduction of the modern SharePoint experience has revolutionised the end user experience and the simplicity of content editing.

What is the modern SharePoint experience?

The modern SharePoint experience is an umbrella term for a collection of changes, which include new, responsive site templates, an entirely new page architecture, new list and library experiences, apps for Android and iOS, and a broad set of new development frameworks and customisation capabilities that align far more closely with modern web development practices. Collectively, these changes are known as “modern SharePoint”. In comparison, “classic SharePoint” is a catch-all term for sites that do not use these new features and frameworks.

Responsive modern SharePoint

Responsive, clean modern SharePoint experience

 

Why use modern SharePoint?

These modern SharePoint changes give much more power to the end users – bringing SharePoint editing up to the standards of any modern website content management system (CMS). This enhanced editing experience means that anyone can create pages, libraries, news articles, any content – even sites. While this may seem alarming to administrators, the alternative is often users going to external sources – shadow IT. People will always take the easiest route and giving users the powers to create their own sites means that they have the tools to do what they need – while keeping everything within the environment that you can control with security and compliance tools. Of course, the ability for anyone to create a site can be disabled, but it is worth considering keeping this ability in order to enable rather than impose.

One of the most noticeable differences is the new content editing experience. It is now simple to create engaging and attractive SharePoint content, which is automatically mobile friendly. Pages are built with simple section selections and then content added using a simple point-and-click method – adding in rich text editors, imagery, embedding apps or surfacing other data.

Another strength is the new 'best of breed' approach using SharePoint as an ensemble product, which uses the best apps for the job at hand. Rather than trying to fulfil all requirements within SharePoint, it now calls upon the various Office 365 apps to fulfil varying functionality. If you want to create a poll or survey, use Microsoft Forms and embed these into SharePoint. Looking to analyse your data? Use Power BI and embed this into SharePoint. Need to surface information on staff? Use Delve. By combining these powerful tools that were built to do their specific job, you use the most suitable apps for the task and can embed, integrate and draw upon these apps within SharePoint.

Considerations

While the modern SharePoint experience has many advantages, it also has some limitations that you need to be aware of and consider when planning and implementing your sites. For some, it won’t be possible to fully embrace the modern experience. This could be the case if you are heavily invested in custom-developed sites or require extensive branding and customisation. Modern sites allow a level of branding but not complete customisation – we highly recommend evaluating the modern sites branding as if you remain within the guidelines then modern sites bring a wealth of benefits. What's more, you’ll spend less of your SharePoint budget on UI customisation leaving more scope to create genuinely-useful functionality.

Conclusion

Despite some of the limitations, the modern SharePoint experience bring a wealth of advantages. It makes SharePoint sites less costly to create, quicker to implement, easier to manage and much simpler to edit and update. Unless you have a compelling reason to remain on classic sites, we highly recommend embracing the modern SharePoint experience.

If you would like to have a demo of the modern SharePoint experience, please get in touch with us to set up a no-obligation demo.

 

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