How to link from a SharePoint page

Did I tell you we are finally moving towards a SharePoint intranet?

We are currently training staff to publish pages and News on SharePoint. Many of them are very happy with the ease of creating pages and news articles, and the fact that you can so easily embed pictures and video. (The old platform can handle one picture or video per article)

One common question is: how do we create links from a page or News article?

Let’s discuss some options. Do you want to link to just one site, page or document? Of do you want/need multiple links on your page? And do they need to be functional and modest, just pretty or attention-grabbing? SharePoint has something for every occasion 🙂

I have made examples in a Team site, but it works the same in a Communication site.

Link opening behaviour

You may want to know that links to content within your tenant always open in the same window. Links to content outside of your tenant always open in a new window. I have been playing around with different options that I found on the internet, but no luck so far.

Make SharePoint Online Menu Items Open in New Tabs! – Views from Veronique (veroniquepalmer.com)

How to open SharePoint Online Modern SPFX links in new tab | Code2care

Suggestions welcome, as sometimes you want to keep people on your page and the link is supposed to be only a side-step!

1. In text

When writing a news article or explanatory text you may want to link to additional information. You can do this in two ways:

  • Linking to a page within your site: type [[ and the list of pages in your site will pop up and you just select one. It will be added with the page name.
Type [[ and the list of pages will show, just click to create a link
  • Linking to anything else: select the text and click the link icon
This is the only option allowing you to open the link in a new tab!
The links will be shown in the text.

If you want your links to stand out, you will need to use a separate web part for that. You can use a two column section where you have a link in the column next to the text, for instance.

The following web parts all handle links in different ways. I will show you how they look in edit mode, what the editing options are and what the end result looks like.

2. Link

The Link web part shows a preview of one link. It depends on the website whether a preview is available. As mine does not have a preview (What! I need to work on that!) I have linked to another very useful website. You just paste the link and the only option you have is to add alternative text or not.

In the screenshot below, from left to right: the empty Link webpart, the web part with link and preview, and the edit options.

If you work with SharePoint, you should follow Gregory Zelfond’s site, sharepointmaven.com!

3. Button

Again, this is for one link, which will be displayed as a button in the colour scheme of your site. You can determine the alignment, but that’s all. Our intranet sounding board contains a number of therapists, and they have warned us against making pages too full of stimuli. So this is a good option if you want to have a quiet, non-overwhelming page.

The Button web part. Very straightforward.

4. Call to Action

If you want people to do something, like register for a webinar or subscribe to a newsletter, a Call to Action webpart may be the best option. It allows you to write an explanatory text (“Attend a webinar”), add the action with the link (“Register now!”), add a background image and align the text.
You pick the background image from the same source as header images for your news items – is there a word for that place? Let’s call it link-picker-page.

This is where you pick images and links from. But not all web parts use this as a source.

The button will be in your site’s colour scheme. If only you could change that black background, it is very visible and sometimes clashes with your colour scheme.

5. Image

You can create a click-through image by using the Image webpart. You will immediately go to the link-picker-page. This web part has an option to add a link, an overlay text (off by default) and to add a caption.

Before we move on to the multiple-link options, let me show you what the web parts look like on a page. I have used three columns, so you have an idea of the relative size. The size can vary depending on the number of columns – the Call to Action and Image web parts will fill the column width, but the Button will always be this size.

This is what the single-link web parts look like.

6. Hero

If you prefer your page to be visually interesting, the Hero web part may be useful. You can choose anything between one or 5 links (also depending on screen resolution and the number of columns in the section) and you start with adding the link (you will go to the link-picker page), then click on the pencil in the bottom of the image to add an image, a call to action for the first item, etc.
This web part consumes a ton of real-estate and I personally think it is too much imagery, too little content 🙂
There’s a lot to this web part and there is good help from Microsoft available: Use the Hero web part – Office Support (microsoft.com)

The Hero web part has many options

7. Quick Links

Another good option if you want to display multiple links. You can go from large image tiles to modest buttons (as below). You can have as many as you like, and you have a ton of options (352 to be exact) to display them. Click “Add Links” and you get taken to the link-picker-page to add the link, then you can adjust things with the pencil underneath.
This is my favourite as it is versatile and you can keep it compact, yet nice looking. The number displayed horizontally will adjust to the column.
This is my blog about it: 352 ways to show Quick Links in SharePoint – Ellen’s Digital Workplace (wordpress.com)

The Quick Links web part has a lot of display options. The Button option is my favourite.

What do all these web parts look like? Below is an overview of all options used.

This is what all web parts look like.

8. Navigation

Of course there is also the navigation menu that you use to link to the main parts in your site. That does not look as pretty as the options above, but it will be shown all over your site, so it has its own merits.

Just click the Edit button below (Team site), or next to the navigation (Communication site) and you can add links, sublinks, move, edit and delete them.

The navigation – adding a new link

Navigation – moving, editing, deleting, indenting a link.

Conclusion

You have many options to select the web part that works for you. I understand it is not always easy to choose the best option, but in general I would say:

  • Keep it simple; visually pleasing but not cluttered.
  • Use Alternative text with images whenever possible – you do not know if anyone in your organization has a temporary or permanent loss of vision and they may want to use the Immersive reader to have the page or news read aloud to them. (I assume the Immersive Reader reads the alternative text – not sure!)
  • Think about the future. If your page is there for a long time, think about the number of links needed over time. Will this stay the same or do you expect more or fewer items needed next year? If you expect that your 5 links of today may be 6 or 7 next year, it may be better to use Quick Links from the start rather than a Hero.
  • Do not forget about your navigation; as it is visible all over the site, you may want to use that for important pages rather than a pretty link on your home page alone.

Have I missed an option? Would you like to say something else? Please comment – I love to hear about your experiences and thoughts!

New! The SharePoint app bar

“Hey, that’s weird, there’s only five News items on my SharePoint start page, not six,” I noticed the other day. When I looked a bit better at the page, I saw that something had been added on the left side of the page: the SharePoint app bar. At that moment, the only item that worked was the Home button, which led me to the SharePoint start page. Which, seeing that I already was on that page, was not a real advantage 😁. The other options showed an empty popup.

So, after asking around on Twitter, it turned out that more people had it and that they also saw empty popups, but Melissa Torres, the developer of this functionality at Microsoft, was so kind to confirm that it was populating, and indeed, the next day everything worked as it should.

Thank you, everyone who responded to my Tweet! 👇

Many people responded to my Tweet, including Melissa Torres from Microsoft.

What does it do?

Here’s a nice explainer video from Melissa Torres. (Thank you, Phil Worrell, for sharing that)

  • This is the Microsoft documentation.
  • The app bar is displayed on the SharePoint start page and all sites with modern pages. We have some “classic” sites at work (well…modern but with a classic homepage) and it does not show on the home page but when you navigate to a document library you see it.
  • The app bar allows you to quickly move between content and sites, so when you in one site and need to go to another, you do not necessarily have to go via the SharePoint start page.
  • There are 4 buttons, see Tweet above, top to bottom:
    • 🏠 Home, which takes you back to the SharePoint start page, or, if your organization has a Home site specified, to the global navigation.
    • 🌍 My Sites, which shows your frequently visited sites and your followed sites
    • 📰 My News, which shows you about 8 recent News items
    • 📄 My Files, which are recent documents you opened or worked on

Is the SharePoint app bar something to celebrate?

🌍 I was especially interested in My Sites. We do not have a SharePoint-based intranet yet, and we currently use SharePoint mainly for document management, generally in sites with limited permissions. We are slowly starting with communication sites and News, but the majority is “closed” sites. We have a custom web part showing “My Sites”, showing all sites you have access to, and I recently got some feedback that this was no longer displaying all sites. I wondered if this would solve that problem.

There is a Microsoft User Voice (what are these rumours I hear about closing that down?) asking for an out-of-the-box functionality that shows all sites you have access to, but that has been on the waiting list since 2017. Microsoft indicates that with a SharePoint intranet, there will be many sites everyone will have access to, so a list like that will be confusing rather than helpful. They suggest to use Following and looking at Recently visited sites, in order to create your own list. I will have some convincing to do, as the “All my Sites” is apparently popular functionality and now I need to tell people to “DIY”.
I know “Do It Yourself” is a Microsoft thing, but that does not necessarily resonate with everyone. 😉

So, in that way My Sites is a bit of a disappointment, as it does not show “All My Sites” but rather “Recently/Frequently visited” and “Followed sites”. I think this is definitely useful but we will have to help people to make this useful for them. I can see the benefits of a quick switch between sites.

🏠 The Home button is at present not really useful, as there is a SharePoint button in every site to take you back to the SharePoint start page. When we have a Home site, and a global navigation, this button will be more interesting.

Every site has a link that takes you back to the SharePoint homepage

📰 The My News option is nice, but to be honest, News is not THAT important that I need to be able to switch to it quickly when doing something else.

📄 My documents can be useful. I may need to find a certain document when working in a SharePoint site.

And this…

❓ I also wonder about what happened to plans for the SharePoint start page – about a year ago we were told that the left column would go away, but that never happened. I then thought that every “application landing page” would get the full list of Microsoft 365 apps, as we currently see on the Forms homepage, but that may also not be true.
So, perhaps the app bar will replace the left column? Oh well, we will see.

👍 All this may be a reason to get rid of classic pages!

👎 I am less happy with the fact that I can only see 5 news items on the start page.

What do you think?

About that Microsoft/Office365 homepage…

While I have been trying to adjust to the new vertical rail of apps (and I still do NOT like it) I came across something – which may be in the Roadmap but I have not seen it yet.

A line next to the app icon

Some apps get a vertical line next to them when you are on their landing page, to signify where you are. It is comparable to the line under open apps in your Task bar.
I have seen it on Excel, Forms, OneNote, PowerPoint, Word, the Homepage itself and the All apps page.

Homepage
Forms
Word

Nice detail: The All apps icon changes colour when clicked and the Homepage icon turns black at that time – and the other way around.

All Apps” changes colour when clicked

So, does this mean that this will be applied to all apps? Could that be the reason of the upcoming redesign of the SharePoint landing page – to make room for the app rail? The Lists app landing page appears ready for this, but Outlook, Planner and many more might be in for a redesign.

Other landing pages

I thought that the SharePoint landing page looked slightly different in the last few months, so I compared the image from my earlier SharePoint News posts with the current one, and it appears that the typeface has changed slightly – it is smaller, more condensed and bold. It looks very much like the letter used on the Forms landing page…so my guess is that this will be rolled out further until every app has a landing page like this.

SharePoint News looked like this in 2019
SharePoint News looks like this in 2020
And this is my Forms landing page in 2020

The “waffle” in Teams

But…there’s more!

When using the “Waffle” from the Teams web app, I noticed that the menu is different than other apps – there’s only limited apps, no documents and look what it says top right…

The Teams waffle menu – different from the others
This is the regular waffle menu

So…

It looks like more design changes are coming up!

352 ways to show Quick Links in SharePoint

As my organization is slowly getting used to the look of modern SharePoint sites that go with a Team site, I am getting more and more questions about how to create those “buttons” that some of our pioneers added to their site.

For Classic sites I once made an overview of the options for Summary Links, which is a web part to store lists of links, with styling options. The equivalent in Modern sites is the Quick Links web part.

Now we can have a debate on the “Quick” aspect of Quick Links, but let’s not go into that and let’s focus on the ways you can make them look. (But if you are curious, you may want to read this article by the Nielsen Norman Group)

How did I prepare?

  • In one of my SharePoint sites, I created a new page and added a header from the new Stock Images (👍 nice!)
  • I added a one-column section
  • I added a Quick Links web part to the section
  • I added some individual links with either an image (Web search), an image from the new Stock Images option (again: nice!) or an icon (also much-appreciated functionality).
  • To some links I added a description.

This is the result:

Starting point for my experiments

Now you have a number of options for how those 8 links are shown.
Of course in a real-life situation you would not want to mix images and icons but for demonstration purposes it makes sense.

6 Web part layout options

When your page is in edit mode, and you click the edit icon for the web part, you get 6 options for layout. Each option can have sub-options.

6 options for different displays of your links

“Compact” is the default option, as shown in the screenshots above. If I uncheck “Show image in layout” the images and icons are removed.
2 options.

No images – a bit plain, right?

Filmstrip” gives a large emphasis on the image. You can move from left to right with arrows, and on the bottom you will see an indication that there’s more than these 4.
1 option.

The “Filmstrip” layout emphasizes the images …
… but it appears NOT to show any default icons (in this case, from a document library)

Grid” shows the links in tiles with large images, again not displaying default icons.
1 option.

Grid – large images, but no default icon

Buttons” has a ton of options:

Description yes/no, image yes/no, appearance, alignment and number of lines: buttons has many options.

Let’s show a few:

With description, icon on left, button outline, centered and two lines of text
No description, icon on top, no outline, top aligned and one line of text (which makes it slightly more compact)

And the option that is very popular in my organization:

No description, no icon, fill colour, center alignment and two lines. If you only use icons, and no images, with your links, this is a good option too.

So the Buttons option alone has 72 display options!

The “List” layout has 4 options: with or without icon, and with or without description. It looks like the Buttons option with the icon on the left, but it is slightly different when you toggle between the two.
4 options.

The List option with icon and description

And finally there is the “Tiles” option, which shows your links in squares. There are 5 sizes, and for the smallest 3 you can decide whether you want to show just the icon, or only the image. I am sharing the two most extreme options.
8 options.

Small tiles with title
The largest image where there is no room for the title

So, all in all you have 88 options to choose from!

But wait, there’s more: 4 section background colours

When you edit the section, you can determine the columns, but also select one of 4 colour options for the section background from left to right: none (as shown in the screenshot), neutral, soft and strong. The exact colours depend on the theme of the site.
So, multiply the 88 options of the web part with the 4 background options and you get…352 options!

These are the options:

You can select 4 different hues

This is the default Compact option with images with 3 backgrounds:

The neutral background
Soft background-the screenshot shows hardly any difference with white
The strong background – that is VERY visible

When you have selected a Link option with a fill-in colour, such as the Button (fill colour) or the Tiles, and you use the strong background, the colour of the buttons will revert to white, for maximum contrast.

The Button with fill colour – now white with strong background.
Tiles with strong background – the icon tiles change to white.

Conclusion

There’s 352 ways to make a nice list of links on your SharePoint page.
It is easy to switch from one style to the other so you can play around until you have found the best style for your purposes.

I would not quickly select one without a title – I have clicked too many image-only buttons that led to something I had not expected or wanted. Tell people what they can expect or do and do not leave them guessing. Nielsen-Norman group have many suggestions for link names with good “information scent”.

What’s your favourite Quick Link style?

Note: I have recently switched to the WordPress’s Block Editor. This has changed the way image captions are being displayed.

Some intranet promotion videos – part 4

Intranetvideos4While List.ly is doing their best to get their Vimeo videos displayed properly, I thought I’d share a number of recent finds with you.
Where available, I have added related videos so you do not have 5, but 8 items to look at. In total, this should keep you busy for a little more than 30 minutes! 🙂

Stay indoors and stay safe!

1. Intro to Delve

Quite a good introduction to the capabilities of Delve. It is not very specific to the organization (a University in Melbourne, Australia) so it is very reusable. They also have good videos for Managing permissions in Delve and Managing your Office profile.

The logos are outdated so I guess the video is older than the upload date of February 2020. But as far as I can check in my one-person Delve, the functionality is still correct.

2. Your new intranet (in Portuguese)

Teaser for the upcoming new intranet at Samsonite Brazil. 
Uploaded March 2020. 

 

3. CM3 SharePoint – your first walkthrough

Quite a long demo of this SharePoint intranet for a USA-based building services organization. This demo starts with the log-on process and it starts to get really interesting from 1.40 onwards, when the homepage is shown. I am fascinated by the colour scheme! It has a lot of useful content and other stuff. In their next video, they look a bit more at the homepage and the SharePoint functionalities and invite you to name the intranet (by completing a Form, of course!).
Uploaded March 2020.

4. Mobile app for real estate organization (builder) – in Dutch

Nice overview of the mobile (SharePoint-based) intranet-app for this Dutch real estate organization. They build houses but also own some DIY-shops in the Netherlands.

This mobile app has a ton of good stuff – News of course, colleague search, employee-stuff. It does not look like the native SharePoint app though.
Uploaded March 2020.

 

5. SmartSpace SharePoint intranet

Walkthrough of a SharePoint intranet for a software organization with offices in UK and USA. The look and feel is quite basic (just the company logo, not even their corporate colours) compared to the design of their proposal templates and website. They appear to do almost everything “corporate” in one site.
Having your Mission and Vision statement on the landing page must become boring after some time, but they may want to change that over time into News or something used frequently. I really like the fact they have a list of approved software (with details) as well as their project portfolio also in SharePoint lists.
Uploaded March 2020.

Some intranet promotion videos, part 3

Videoheader3As List.ly still has not gotten their act together, please find here another set of intranet promotion videos from Vimeo. Their Help and Community pages have been showing up blank for the past weeks, so I am very afraid that I will have to move my video collection elsewhere – again 😦

1. Landmark Intranet Teaser (SharePoint)

A short teaser for a new intranet set to launch about now.  This video does not go beyond the corporate part (news, events, video) but it is always nice to see another SharePoint home page. This is a UK commercial real estate company.
Uploaded February 2020.

 

2. Backpack

Backpack, what a nice name for an intranet for a series of private schools in the USA! This is a demo – slightly on the long side (5 mins) but it has some nice features, such as the ability to select or suggest apps. Also, the presenters are chatty and relaxed which is nice to listen to.
It uses Office365 for document management but not for the intranet pages. 
Uploaded January 2020.

 

3. Social Intranet RM IT

Silent demo for the intranet of a Swiss recruitment agency. Nice colours (completely different from their website, and not a company logo in sight) and the usual stuff. I am not so happy with the name “Wiki” for corporate policies (as the word “wiki” suggests to me that documentation is still in the crowdsourcing phase) but I know people will not agree with me 🙂
Uploaded February 2020.

4. Intranet launch Claro (in Spanish)

Upbeat teaser/demo for the intranet of an Argentinian telecommunications company. It looks nice and is accessible on all devices. I could not see that many details.
Uploaded February 2020/

 

5. Intranet relaunch Ricola (in German)

Very on-brand mockup design. The new intranet for this Swiss herbal sweets manufacturer has workspaces (collaboration spaces to reduce emails and paper), a community for help with the intranet, search function etc.
Uploaded February 2020.

 

 

 

Using emoji as visual tags in Office365

It all started with this Tweet:

That looked interesting so I spent a most enjoyable day finding out how and where it works in Office365, and if I could find anything remarkable.
By the way, you get the emoji keyboard when you click the Windows-key plus . or ;

Emojikeyboard
You can type and see suggested emoji (on top), or you can search (bottom left) or navigate between various categories. Now shown: recently used.

The Windows 10 emoji work almost universally, including Office365. You can use it in SharePoint document libraries, folders and documents; in Yammer groups, Teams channels, Outlook, To Do, well, everywhere I have tried!
It also works in Twitter and Hootsuite and I guess on many more platforms.

Benefits

In most cases they merely look nice, but I think their biggest benefit is that they can help people identify the most important item(s) in a long list, e.g. OneDrive,  SharePoint or Outlook folders. They act as “visual tags”.

My favourite

My personal favourite usage is in List names of ToDo. I share a lot of lists with my colleague and I like being able to see to which list a task in My Day, Assigned to Me or Planned Tasks belongs. The colour scheme you can apply to a list does not provide sufficient contrast, and if you have more lists than the 5 colours available you still need to look at the list name.
Until now I always thought I had a lot of redundant tasks, because one task can show in different views, but now I can easily see where they belong.

Emoji-ToDo
Now that I have added icons to my lists, it is easier to see which task is for which list. BTW, you also see that the default list icon is being overwritten if I add the emoji to the left. Neat.

Things to know

  1. Not every image has sufficient detail – stay on the safe side and choose images that are clear and unambiguous for your team.
  2. Always use text in combination with your emoji…otherwise you will have to refer to “that folder with the red-and-white striped tshirt” which is a bit silly.
  3. Do not overdo it – adding an emoji to every folder looks cluttered and defies its purpose of making things stand out.
  4. Does adding “little coloured images” fit your organization? I am quite sure that I would have had a serious (and unpleasant) discussion in my former organization, had I suggested to use it there. I think it will be appreciated in my current one, though.
  5. They display nicely in all web and mobile apps (screenshot below, left), but the desktop apps (screenshot below, right) show them only in black-and-white. No problem for me, as I find I am using the web apps more and more, but be aware if your colleagues are all desk(top) jockeys. 🙂
  6. I would suggest to not use this in high level names and URLs, such as SharePoint site names or Teams names. I do not know if you run into issues if you need to access these types of names or URLs with Powershell or in the admin mode. (Please let me know if you have experiences with this)
  7. Although you can use this in document names, I would suggest to pin a document to the top of the library if you want to highlight it. That way the document will always be visible, regardless of sorting, folders, etc.
  8. Speaking of sorting, the sort order can change when you add emoji. In the screenshot below I have made a list of folders in the Ninja Cat library in a SharePoint site. All folders were created in one go, i.e. I added the emoji when creating the folder. You see that a folder with an emoji first, gets shown on top, while an emoji behind the name sorts “normally”. (Look at the “Clothes” folder, which are two different instances)
    If I add the emoji to the left of an existing folder name, it suddenly moves to a different position!

    emoji-sortorderfolders1
    Sort order: name ascending. Depending on the location of the emoji, the folders end up in different locations. Look at the Clothes folder.

    Now let’s see what happens if I add an emoji to the Clothing folder, to the left of the name.

    emoji-sortorderfolders2
    When I add the emoji to the left of the name, it moves up!

    In the above example I could create two folders with the same name – so apparently “👕 Clothes” is NOT the same as “Clothes 👕”. They have different URL’s, where an addition comes either before or after the word “Clothes”. Yet it is impossible to create a third plain “Clothes” folder as “that already exists”. Why?

  9. I tried to copy and paste the different URL’s of both folders in this post, but as soon as I did that, the red-and-white stripes of the emoji in 8. suddenly turned into plain blue! (BTW, this also happened when I switched to the HTML editor writing this post) What sorcery is that? So I have to use a screenshot:

    emoji-folderurl
    Different URL’s for the Clothes folders. But why can I not create a new plain Clothes one?
  10. Yammer groups have a number in their URL, not a name, so you should be able to use them safely in Yammer groups. But if you use Yammer on your phone or tablet, the group icons are already displayed so why add another one?
    I hope Microsoft will address this and make the group icons also show in your list when you work on your PC or laptop. (which would make the emoji redundant)

    Emoji-Yammer group on laptop
    Laptop, where adding an emoji makes sense

    emoji-yammermobile
    Mobile app, which displays the group images anyway, so an extra emoji does not add much
  11. In Teams, the team image is displayed with the name, so adding an emoji in the Teams name only clutters things up. But using an emoji in a Channel name makes sense, both on laptop and on mobile.

    emoji-teamchannels
    Team channels – I admit adding too many images make it a bit cluttered.
  12. Should you add images left or right to the name? To the left gives a more uniform appearance, and in To Do, it nicely overwrites the default icon. But I think it is generally better if they are to the right, as the text should be more important than the image and you are more in control of the sorting. Also, they stand out more when they are not all aligned. Any thoughts? (Since Wedge told us that decorative illustrations of a post should be to the right, unless they are an essential part of the post, I have added illustrations to the right of my post, so that’s why I think to the right is better)

 

Conclusion

Adding an emoji to a folder or Teams channel name can be a nice way to shows its content or purpose, or to make it stand out. However, use with caution as not everyone may like it or understand the image, things may get cluttered and it may even break some things as well.

There’s still a lot to find out, especially in admin and any other occasion where a URL is involved.  If you have any experiences with usage in Office365, especially from the admin side of things, please let me know!

Photos and Forms

fotoform-header

You can create really good looking surveys with Microsoft Forms these days, just by using colours and images.

There are 4 places to add an image:

1. Background

You can use a standard theme, which will add a predetermined background image (optional) and colour scheme to your Form.
If you want to use your own theme, click Theme and then the +. This will open a screen allowing you to upload an image and/or set a background colour for texts and buttons.

Formfoto-theme
You can upload a picture and change the colour here. Try #ff0000 and see what happens!

2. Forms title

You can add a small image to the title and introduction text of your form.

3. Question

You can add an image to a question. You can choose between small and large.

4. Section

If you want to create a new page for a new question or set of questions, you can use a section. A section header can also contain an image, large or small. It behaves like an image in a question.

Size requirements for images – a test

I recently received a question from one of my users, who wanted to know the size requirements for images in Forms. The background image she used turned out to be a bit blurry. Of course, and fortunately, you no longer have to use exact dimensions in Office 365, but not every size works well in every application, so I did some tests.

  • I photographed a few scenes with my iPhone, using square, landscape and portrait orientation. (4:3 aspect ratio except for the square of course)
  • I resized them using good old Paint, making a 50, 38, 25, 10 and 5% of the original. All images were 72 dpi.
  • Then I created a Form with 2 questions and one section.
  • I started with the 5% size and uploaded this image as background, as title, as question (large and small) and as section image.
  • Whenever the image displayed blurry, I repeated the exercise with the 10% and so on, until I had a good idea of what worked.

Results

  1. The background needs an image of at least 750 pixels wide, but 1000 is better.
    The orientation of the image (square, landscape or portrait) does not matter. The background focuses on the center of the picture.

    Formfoto-backgrooundportrait5
    With an image of 152 pixels wide, the background is extremely blurry.

    Formfoto-squarebackground.png
    With an image of 756 pixels wide, this background is acceptable.

    Formsfoto-landscapebackground
    A 1008-pixel wide background is really nice.
  2. In the title you can use an image as small as 150 pixels wide. It does not display a lot of detail, so you can get away with a small image.
    The height of the image display is fixed, and the orientation of the image does not matter much.
    Formfoto-squareheaderFormfoto-landscape header

    Formfoto-portrait-header
    3 examples of pictures in the title – the orientation (square, portrait, landscape) shows more variety than the picture quality.
  3.  If you use a small picture in your question or section, go for at least 150 px wide.
    Use landscape where possible, as it will keep your form shorter. Check out the differences in the screenshots with the background, above.
  4. For a large picture in a question or section, at least 400 pixels wide is best.
    Please note that landscape pictures cover the whole width of the forms, and the question is shown on top. This makes for a very nice image, but as it is blown up a lot compared to the other formats, you really need to make sure the image is sharp.
    If you use the same image in every section, you can create a nicely consistent experience. (But do not go overboard, every new section is a click!)

    Formfoto-diffsmallandlarge.png
    This is 152 pixels. The small picture  is OK but the large one is not.

    formfoto-squaresmallvslarge.png
    Again, 303 x 303 pixels is acceptable for a small picture but for a large one it is just not enough. And it is not even displayed on the whole width!

    Formfoto-landscapelarge
    The image in Question 2 is 404 x 303 pixels. It makes an acceptable picture, even in full width of the form. 

Suggestions:

  • Use landscape imagery where possible – it just displays nicer
  • Keep in mind that different purposes need different image sizes. If your image is too small, do not use it as background or the large image.
  • 150-400-750 is just a guideline – with a different aspect ratio in your photos and pictures, more dpi and different viewing screen size, you may find that other sizes work better for you. And perhaps you WANT the background to be a bit blurry!
  • More info about working with images in Forms

Header image by Peachpink on Pixabay.
“Photos and Forms” reminds me of “Diamonds and Pearls” by the late great Prince. 

Show some character! (in your #SharePoint site navigation)

Char-headerThe other day I was helping someone design their SharePoint site. It struck me that the labels she wanted to use in the navigation were very long, and although they could technically be added, they displayed badly. They used more than one line and it was not clear which text belonged to which navigation item.

I could not tell her how many characters she could use, and I could also not find it described anywhere, so I had to check it out myself.
So, here’s a few numbers for navigation items on a site’s Homepage (and I wish WordPress had a nice table for this):

Current navigation / Quick Launch (vertical)

  1. In Classic sites you can add 256 characters and they will all be displayed – breaking off at 24 characters, without indent.
    With indent, 22 characters are shown per line.

    Char-Classic-QuickLaunch
    Left: Classic Quick Launch with 24 chars per line; Right: Classic Quick Launch with indent and 22 chars per line.
  2. In Modern sites you can add 256 characters but only 19 will be displayed – when you hover over the item 50 characters will be shown. When making this a sub-link, 16 chars are shown.

    Char-Modern-QuickLaunch
    Modern Quick Launch with the displayed link in yellow, and the extended link when you hover over it, in blue.

    char-ModernQuickLaunchsublink
    A sublink will display 16 characters.

Global navigation (horizontal)

  1. In Classic sites you can add 256 characters and they will all be displayed on top of the site – looking absolutely horrible and causing a horizontal scroll bar.

    Chars-ClassicHorizontal
    All 256 characters displayed in this link – wish they weren’t!
  2.  In Modern sites (Communication sites only) you can also add 256 characters but none of them will be displayed, instead you can click on the … and you will see the link title.
    When you have a shorter link (In this case Site Contents) to the left of the long one, the shorter one will be displayed, but if you position the shorter one to the right of the long one, it will be hidden and I could not find a way to make it appear.

    Char-ModernHorizontalsitecontents
    The link can only be shown when you click the …

    Char-ModernHorizontal
    In this case I have moved the Site Contents to the right of the long link. It does not show up, and even when I click the … I do not see Site Contents, although the height of the hover-over indicates there should be another menu item on the left.

    It turns out that 118 characters can be added until the link disappears.

    Char-ModernHorizontaldisplayed
    When you enter no more than 118 characters, the title will be displayed.

But…it depends…

The display of the Quick Launch (vertical) navigation is not depending on browser or computer settings.

In Modern sites horizontal navigation however, the display is depending on settings:

  • When I change the text and app settings (Scaling) to 100 instead of the recommended and used 125, hidden items becomes visible.
  • When I change to a lower resolution than my current 1920 * 1080, less is displayed and my long title hides behind the ellipses.
  • When I lower my browser zoom to 75% (Edge) hidden items becomes visible again and when I increase it to 125%,  the long title is hidden again.

This will make it fun to support Communication sites. “Look, there is an item in the horizontal navigation but my colleague does not see it”.
SharePoint Holmes is rubbing his hands already 🙂

The exact number of characters displayed may also vary when you use a non-default font, of course.

Tips for navigation item titles

With this in mind, I have to mention a few things about the navigation titles you use.

  • Keep titles short, try to keep below 16 characters if you want to have one line per navigation item (which keeps navigation short and readable).
  • Make sure that the most important words are in the beginning of your title.
  • Do not use your company name if your labeling is for internal content only.
    If you are storing competitive information, or contracts, or customer information, using company names is essential, but in general, your intranet will only be hosting content for your company.
  • Do not use your department name if your site is for/from that department only.  Do not use “HR request forms”, “HR policies” if your site has HR written all over it. Just use  “Request forms” and “Policies”.
  • Do not write your titles in ALL-CAPS. It makes words harder to read as capitals are more square and uniform. They miss the ascenders and descenders that give extra information about the letter.

Well, this was fun. I may do this for other elements as well!

Photo by Mike Bird from Pexels.

SharePoint Holmes and the Invisible Image

SH-invisible-man-154567_1280The case

“It is possible to show the person’s picture in a list, next to the name?”  the user asked me. “Of course”, I said, but it depends on the list and the definition of the column. Let’s have a look.”

The user did a screenshare with me and showed me the list. It contained a number of “People or Group” columns.

We checked the settings of the columns and it turned out he had used the default option, “Name (with presence)”.

SH-InvisibleImage-Default
The default option when you create a “Group or Person” column.

So I showed him there were more options and that he’d better select “Name (with picture and details)”.

SH-InvisibleImage-Namepicdetails
I suggested this option to make the picture show in the list

So he did, and he went back to the list. But no image was shown.

SH-InvisibleImage-ListModern
No image next to the name 😦

The investigation

  1. I checked the column again, as this was unexpected behaviour. Yes, that was the right setting.
  2. I also tried the other options, “Picture only” in various formats. But the image would not show.
  3. I was flabbergasted. Microsoft Office, especially in the Modern fashion, has such an obsession about pictures, images, icons and other visuals that I could not understand why the picture would not show up. I mean, I have to look at myself all day but SharePoint would refuse this?
  4. But then I thought, what about Classic View?

The solution

I switched to Classic View and there it was:

SH-InvisibleImage-Listclassic
This was what the user was looking for!

The user was happy and changed the Advanced Settings to make sure this list would always open in Classic View for all the site’s users.

I am not so happy, however. This was a modern site with a modern list and a perfectly legit column setting. Why is the picture not displayed in the Modern View, knowing the emphasis Microsoft places on visuals?
Please note it is the same with Styles and Totals – they only display in Classic View 😦
I have already added a warning to my SharePoint Style Counsel blog…

Additionally, over time I have grown an aversion to the Classic view as I think it looks cluttered.

So, does anyone know when can we expect these display options to be available in the Modern view?

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Image courtesy of OpenClipArtVectors on Pixabay