On May 21 SharePoint Conference North America returned to Las Vegas and SPC returned in a big way. The week was full of announcements! I wanted to take a few minutes and break down many of the announcements from SPC and hopefully provide a little guidance for implementation in SharePoint Online.
Updates to Communication Sites and Hub Sites
In 2017 Microsoft released communication sites for SharePoint, which were designed to build a modern intranet in SharePoint quickly and easily. Communication sites allowed users to concentrate on content while making it easy to design and present their information. During SPC Microsoft announced a few new features designed to further enhance communication sites and really take the SharePoint modern intranet to the next level.
Updates to modern pages
Since 2016 in SharePoint Online, content creators have had the ability to create great looking modern web pages that work on any device. Now modern pages support metadata and audience targeting, making it easier than ever to get the right content to the right people! Content organization introduces metadata to site page libraries allowing users to tag web pages with important metadata. This allows organizations to better organize their web pages, filter content efficiently, and reference metadata enabled pages in views and web parts.
Audience targeting ensures the right audience is reached when those pages are published. With audience targeting, the content creator can choose what is visible and to which users through group permissions. This will provide a way to showcase specific content across news, pages, and web parts.
There’s even a new page approval using Microsoft Flow to allow teams to draft and review web pages before publishing to the intended audience. Microsoft Flow makes automating business processes super easy! With page approval, a content creator can draft a web page and send the page for review with just a few clicks, all from the same browser tab. The reviewer can approve or provide feedback right from their email! It’s a simple and efficient way to automate approval.
Many organizations deal with site sprawl – site collections full of subsites and subsites of subsites. With so many sites it’s difficult to teams to organize content, and for users to find their stuff. In early 2018, the SharePoint team released hub sites for general availability across SharePoint Online. Hub sites allow an organization to flatten their site collections, creating only a handful of sites per site collection, and link multiple site collections together through a central hub. This hub would provide global navigation for users to move from site collection to site collection as needed, use a common theme to easily identify all the sites in the hub, and content roll up such as news. Now each site collection can have unique security and permissions for access control, as well as implementing the settings and features necessary for the site collection, while maintaining a connection to other sites in the organization.
Organizational News Sources
With a SharePoint hub site, organizations now have the ability to designate specific sites as the source for important organizational news! This allows important news and information to roll up or be pushed out to the user base across SharePoint and Office 365. There’s even a visual element to help users identify organizational news.
With the addition of the hub site news web part, users can select which sites to use as news sources, filter and choose the right layout for displaying important news information, and even pin news articles!
Figure 4 Hub Site news web part
New Hub Site functionality
Hub site now supports an approval process for teams that want more control over which site collections and site owners can request access to join the hub. Hub site owners and admins can implement site scripting to inherit themes and branding, customize permissions, and even create lists and libraries, add content and metadata, or add policies to the newly hub connected site! Hub sites now support more theming and branding options to represent your company’s brand.
As your organizations grow and your teams evolve these features can become the building blocks around your SharePoint based modern intranet, providing the tools to share and connect users to the right content, when they need it, from any location.
SharePoint Conference North America 2018 provided a lot of announcements for updates and new features in communication sites and hub sites. Be sure to check out the SharePoint Community Blog for updates and announcements.
Also, the updates and new features mentioned here will roll out over the next few months. Be sure to check the Office 365 Message Center for announcements on availability in your Office 365 tenant.