It has been around two years since I published SharePoint Page Design best practices post. That was when we only had classical Wiki Pages at our disposal. A lot has changed since then. Classical Wiki Pages are pretty much a thing of the past now. If you are in SharePoint Online, you should only create new site pages using modern page experience. To learn how to create modern pages in SharePoint, check out this post. So in this post, I thought I would document SharePoint Modern Page Best Practices. I base those on feedback I receive from my clients, by observing what other organizations are doing and of course, my personal preferences, being a pain in the ass minimalist and perfectionist I am.
Best Practice # 1: Split your page into zones
By default, the modern page starts with 1 column layout. However, just as with Wiki pages before, you can separate it into zones. Take advantage of that – use real estate wisely. The more content you can put in front of my eyes without scrolling, the better!
Best Practice # 2: Remove banner from working pages
Every modern page has a built-in placeholder for a banner. You can’t change its size out of the box. So either you use it or you don’t. Banners might make sense on Intranet landing page or some landing pages for some departments (i.e., Human Resources). But if it is a working site, like a project site or department site, I don’t need a banner every day to remind me about this. Banner is nice, but it takes 50% of the screen on my little laptop. So I suggest you remove it to gain valuable screen real estate.
Best Practice # 3: Minimize vertical scroll
Kind of related to Best Practice # 1, I want to see as much info as possible when I make it to your page. I don’t have time and intelligence to scroll three pages down to see some important information you stuck at the bottom of the screen. Just like you never go to Page 2 or 3 of Google search results, why do you think your colleagues will? If you separate your page into 2-3 zones, you can now embed 4-6 web parts without the need to scroll much.
Best Practice # 4: Do not embed a document library on the page
In the old days, almost every Microsoft Site Template contained a document library embedded on the page. That’s because it was the most exciting thing back then. Not anymore. Unless your site does not contain any other web parts, do not embed a document library on the modern page. There are so many exciting web parts you can put there instead, like Quick Links, Calendar, embed an image or a video. You can always link to documents from a Quick Launch menu on the left, or create a nice-looking link with an icon using Quick Links web part.
Best Practice # 5: Do not add web parts that have similar functionality
There are a couple of web parts in modern page experience that kind of display similar info. Example: Site Activity and Highlighted Content Web Part (HCWP) web parts. Both will display recent activity in different styles. Another example: Built-in Page Comments and Yammer feed. Both will give you social/commenting capability. But remember, my IQ is not as high as yours, so you need to make it simple for me. Just choose one.
Best Practice # 6: Disable comments if you do not want users to comment on the pages
With modern pages, there is a new ability to comment on page content. Every modern site page now has a Comments section at the bottom. Another attempt to make SharePoint social. Sometimes this could be handy, but sometimes not. So disable the comments if you are not going to use them. There are a few ways to disable those in SharePoint; please reference this post to learn more.
Best Practice # 7: Use a square logo instead of the rectangular one
Yeah, this actually caught me by surprise as well. The old classical wiki pages used rectangular logos. Modern pages now have square ones. So if your company has a rectangular shaped logo (like mine), you will need to do some graphic work. Try to crop the logo into a square shape. Otherwise, SharePoint will resize your rectangular one into a square box, and it just will look too small.
Best Practice # 8: Keep Quick Launch menu clean
This is the same advice I have given before, with classical pages. Keep left-hand-side navigation clean. Remove Pages and Site Contents links that are added by default on every site/page. Your users won’t know what they are and should not see them. Add only links that make sense and are related to the web parts or content on that site. Oh yeah, and while we are here, do not add 55 links to the left side either. 5-7 links at most. Less is better. If your site has 55 links on the left side, you are officially a hoarder, and I suggest that you seek medical treatment.
Best Practice # 9: Get rid of Quick Launch if you do not need it
Related to the above, sometimes, you just don’t need that Quick Launch menu on the site at all. You are in luck! On the old classical pages, it was impossible to get rid of the left-hand-side panel without custom code, even if it did not contain any links. In modern pages, you can easily do this by removing all the links from the left. Once you do and then reload the page, the page will now be wide-screen, with left-hand-side menu gone!
Caution: One annoying factor here is that when you do remove the Quick Launch panel using the technique above, it also removes the Search Box from the Site Page. While you can search sites using other places in SharePoint, sometimes, you do want to have that Search box on the site. So proceed wisely!
Remove all the links, click Save, refresh the page and…
Best Practice # 10: Do not add apps you do not need
Kind of related to “keep it clean” theme, modern pages have lots of new and exciting web parts. That said, don’t add web parts just because you can. Add ones that you need. Example: Modern pages now include the ability to embed a Kindle book preview (don’t ask me why). Unless you are creating a site for a book club in your organization, you don’t need to have it on your page!