The new “Site Contents” layout


Update February 2018.

In the past months there have been some changes to this page.

  • The 3 large blocks have been replaced with one link top right, called “Site Usage”.
    This is becoming neater, the Site Usage is now a page of its own.

    When you click this you will get a new page with the 3 large blocks, a not very precise overview of the most-viewed files and an overview of files that you have shared with externals. This latter is very useful!

    Site Contents-trending
    The “trending” is not very impressive as it does not show any numbers but “Shared Externally” is a useful addition.
  • The menu on the left-hand side is collapsed (left) and can be expanded (right)  – this is only available in the site contents, and I hope it will be rolled out to pages as well. (Users have been asking about it)

  • Pages, Site Pages and Wiki Pages libraries are finally displayed as being “Page Libraries” instead of “List”, and Picture Libraries are displayed as “Picture Libraries” instead of “List”.
    An “Asset Library” is still mentioned as “List” though.

But we are getting there!

This is the original post from June 2016.

Just when I had recovered from the (pleasant) shock of “the new document library experience” I found out that “Site Contents” has had a design overhaul.

I have not seen many blogs on this new feature yet so let me show you more.

What did the Site Contents page look like?

The “old” look and feel of Site Contents


My concerns have been:

  • I personally do not like the grid layout with tiles, I can read a list better. Call me old-fashioned 🙂
  • Although the tiles occupy plenty of real estate, they do not provide as much info as they could, as I described earlier in “SharePoint tiles I’d like to see”.
  • I always forget if I have to click the tile (yes) or the … (no) to open up the list/library.

So, will my concerns be gone after the design change?

This is the new design

The new design – top of page
  1. Eyecatcher: 3 new content blocks

  • Number of Site Visits
  • Trending content
  • Tips

I am not very active in my Office 365 environment, so the numbers displayed in the screenshot are not exactly informative, but you will get the gist. I am curious to see if the trending content itself will be displayed eventually, apart from the number.
I think this will create welcome transparency.

2. A new way to create new items

Instead of the “Add an app” tile you now select “New” and you can pre-select the desired item you want to add.
It appears that lists and libraries are no longer called “apps” – this calls for a happy dance!

Creating a new item


If you click “Library”, you will go immediately to the new document library creation page.
If you click “apps” you will go to the known grid of app tiles.
I have not tested the Lists and Subsites yet.

3. The actual content

Underneath, your site’s real content is displayed.

The actual Site Contents. Please note the site top bar and header stay where they are when you scroll down.

These are no longer displayed as tiles, but as a list. The list is sorted on list type, and then alphabetically on name, displaying icon, name, type, number of items and last modified date.

The subsites are displayed on a separate tab:

The list of subsites, with #Views, and Created and Modified Dates.


What do I think?

I like this new design.

  • I especially like the list of apps with their smaller icons, because the smaller icons show more variety than the big blue tiles, and are therefore easier to distinguish.
  • The modified date is a granted wish. I am totally fine with “one hour ago” or “two days ago” but when it is more than a month ago,  I prefer to see the exact date.
  • Sorting the list on List type is helpful.
  • The Created and Modified Dates for the subsites are also very helpful.
  • I still have to see what extra value the 3 new blocks on top will have, but I can imagine these will be useful.
  • Also, it looks like older versions of SharePoint. While this may be a disappointment to some, at this moment it is very welcome to me. The company I work for is moving to Office 365 and I am concerned that our users will be totally lost in their new environment.

What do I miss?

  • The description of the list or library.
  • Accurate descriptions and icons for Images and Pages libraries – these are libraries, not lists!


  • The link to go back to the new look-and-feel!!!

When I noticed the new design, I found it had been changed across all my sites. That annoyed me because I did not have a screenshot of “before”.
Then I noticed a link, bottom left, saying: “Return to Classic SharePoint”. I created some screenshots of the new situation “just in case” and clicked that link…

All my sites turned back to the Classic look, with no link to the new design 😦

I can only hope that this change will be rolled out irreversibly in a few months. But if you know how to reset it, please let me know!

[Update June 13, 2016: Fortunately Andrew Gilleran knew the solution: Log out and log in again. A new session will restore the new look-and-feel! Thanks, Andrew!]

10 thoughts on “The new “Site Contents” layout

  1. Veronique Palmer June 13, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve just about had it with these constant changes. It’s driving me nuts. I’m on the verge of moving to an on-prem platform

    • Ellen van Aken June 13, 2016 / 9:02 pm

      At the moment I find all changes quite interesting, but I can imagine that, after go-live, it becomes quite a thing to keep up. Have you any end-user experiences about the rapid changes? I am so worried that we will upset our users by constantly changing their work tools.

  2. alexander7567 December 12, 2016 / 5:24 pm

    I too clicked the same link because I was new to SharePoint online and I wanted to see what the old design looked like. They must have changed it where logging out and back in does not go back to the new look, so now I don’t have the new look – as much as I liked it!


    • alexander7567 December 12, 2016 / 5:29 pm

      However, I did open it in a new browser and I got the new interface in that browser. SO long story short, on top of signing out, I had to clear cookies on my browser for the site as well.

      • Ellen van Aken December 12, 2016 / 5:37 pm

        Oh dear, yes, these changes can be quite confusing! But be patient, you will get the new interface in the end – there’s no escape 😀!

  3. cindy June 23, 2017 / 10:38 pm

    not sure your article says O365 I was looking for the new icons for 2016 on premises

    • Ellen van Aken June 24, 2017 / 8:18 am

      Hi Cindy, my post is about SharePoint Online / Office365.

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