Quite often, I get emails from my loyal blog followers and clients, asking me to see SharePoint site examples. So I want to use this opportunity and share with you a few examples of sites I built for my clients using out-of-the-box functionality. You probably know me by now, I am strictly an out-of-the-box kind of guy. My philosophy and business model is pretty simple – why waste money on third-party themes and add-ons, when you can build attractive, functional, and sexy sites with the functionality you already got and pay for as part of an Office 365 subscription.
Project or Team Site
This is a site where you would expect the team to collaborate on. Usually, this would be an Office 365 Group, so that the team members would also join the benefits of Outlook, Planner, and Teams. The site itself will feature various elements for collaboration and information exchange, in a way, pulling it all together. The site would be restricted in terms of permissions to just the team members. For example, the HR (Human Resources) Team Site.
Typical elements of a SharePoint Team Site
- News and Announcements. News web part is a great way to share the latest development and critical news and milestones with the team. More info on how to take advantage of this web part in this post.
- Outlook Calendar. Since the team site is part of Office 365 Group, it is tied to a shared group calendar in Outlook. That means that you can display upcoming team meetings right there on the site page. I discuss all the available calendar options here.
- Quick Links. Quick Links allow you to easily share bookmarks (URLs) with the rest of the team. For example, link to a client website, SharePoint site, or a document you use within the team or a project. More on Quick Links here.
- Recent Documents. When you visit a SharePoint site, you might want to see the latest activity, like recent documents that have been modified – this will tell you if the project is ongoing or not. There are a few ways to display recent documents in SharePoint. I documented them all here.
- Document Library. Of course, to store documents in SharePoint, you will need a document library. Every site by default has one, and you can create additional ones if need be.
- Quick Launch Links to Outlook, Teams, Planner, OneNote notebook. A unique feature of a team site is the left-hand-side navigation that allows you to link to other sources related to the project or a team. You can add links directly to other Office 365 Group assets like Planner, Outlook Calendar, and Teams.
What I mean by department site (and this is just my interpretation, your terminology can be different), is the employee-facing site. Using the HR example above, Human Resources might want to have a place to share content with the rest of the employees (i.e., company handbook, policies, links, company holidays, news and events). It would not be appropriate to start sharing the private team site I explained above, so the best practice is to create an employee-facing department site. By the way, if you are looking for additional ideas, I documented step-by-step instructions on how to create a Human Resources Employee site.
Typical elements of a Department Site
- Hero Web Part. A great way to highlight content and focus someone’s attention is to use a Hero Web Part. Check out this post to learn more about it.
- News and Announcements. Just like on a Team Site above, News Web Part is a great way to post the latest news and milestones for a given department.
- Quick Links. Quite often, you need to link to other types of content, resources on the web, etc. Quick Links can be a great alternative to the Hero web part for this.
- SharePoint Calendar. You also need to share events and important dates. For this, you will need to use a SharePoint calendar. Unlike an Outlook calendar that we have on a Team site, this one is a SharePoint based calendar, not connected to an Outlook at all. I describe the difference between all calendar options here.
- People Web Part. On employee-facing sites, quite often you need to list people to contact for any questions (i.e., HR Department site). For this, People Web Part is a great visual web part you might want to use. It has people names + photos, and when you hover over it, it lists the additional information from their profiles.
- Countdown timer (i.e., to some HR deadline, like medical benefits enrollment). If you want to put an urgency on something and make sure your employees take action by a specific deadline, make sure to include a Countdown timer web part on your site. I describe how to configure it here.
- Document Library. And of course, you need a place to store documents. Every site, no matter which template you choose, has at least one document library. You can have as many as you want.
Intranet Landing Page
As you create all these Office 365 Group Sites and Communication sites in your Intranet, you kind of need a single place to tie it all together. A single place for common company links, news & announcements, official company calendar, etc. for all employees to access. For that purpose, you will want to create a main Site/Homepage. Usually, it would be based on a communication site template, since it is informational and is visually appealing.
Typical elements of an Intranet Landing Page
NOTE: As of the writing of this post, Microsoft had not released the new Home site functionality which will make this type of site a real standout and an actual, personalized landing page. So I will describe the most common web parts and features you would expect and can configure with the existing web parts that we have.
- Hero Web Part. Just like described above, a Hero Web Part is a great way to spice up the page, especially if that page is an Intranet landing page. With links to relevant info and colorful images/tiles – the page will be transformed in terms of look and feel.
- News and Announcements. Same as on the sites above, News web part is a great way to post news you do not want your employees to miss. What is really about this web part is that you can roll up news from other sites in the Hub.
- Quick Links. Most likely you will have way too many links to fit into the five tiles available with a Hero Web Part. In this case, Quick Links to the rescue!
- SharePoint Calendar. Just like with News, you can aggregate Events from other SharePoint calendars located on other sites in the Hub
- Weather module. How can we survive a day without knowing what the weather is like! No wonder every SharePoint Intranet features a Weather web part!
- Twitter Feed. Another way to keep the content fresh on the main landing page is to embed a Twitter web part. This, of course, assumes that your company does have a Twitter account and keeps it fresh.
- Hub Navigation. Another essential element of the main landing page (site to be precise), is that this site will most likely be THE HUB with other sites associated with this Hub. That means that this is the site where you will manage Hub Navigation for your Intranet.