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. 

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Create a photo album with OneDrive app and client

OneDrive-photo-album-631084_640In my current role I have a slightly wider scope than “just” SharePoint and Yammer. I am now troubleshooting and advising about the other Office 365 tools as well, so I need to expand my skills and knowledge rapidly to stay a few steps ahead of my audience 🙂 .  

The other day one of my colleagues asked if there is an easier way to create the photo albums he needs to make as part of his role. 
The organization I work for occasionally rents out parts of their buildings or hires space from others.  In those cases, my colleague takes pictures of the buildings to document their current state. The pictures are collated into an album which has to be signed off by both parties at the start of the rental agreement. 

What is the current method?

Getting pictures

  1. Take pictures with smartphone
  2. Send pictures to work email (in batches to avoid too large attachments)
  3. File pictures from each email in OneDrive on laptop (Attachments folder)
  4. Create project folder in OneDrive
  5. Transfer pictures to project folder
  6. Remove pictures from phone

Creating the album

  1. Open a new PowerPoint presentation
  2. Make cover slide
  3. Insert pictures from OneDrive into PowerPoint
  4. Arrange pictures on slides
  5. Add end slide (usually, with the dates, names and signatures)
  6. Save PowerPoint as PDF

Well, I thought that I (or rather, Office 365) could make things easier for him. I confirmed he had the OneDrive app on his phone, so I came up with…

The new method

Getting pictures with the OneDrive app

  1. Create project folder in the OneDrive app
  2. Open the folder

    OneDrive-Empty
    Two ways to take a picture: The + button top right and the diaphragm button on the bottom.

3. Take pictures with the + button top right or the diaphragm button at the bottom (make sure you set it to “Photo”) 
4. Pictures will be saved in the folder

OneDrive-savedinfolder
If you keep the folder open, the pictures will be saved here by default.


Creating the album in the OneDrive Client

  1. Create a picture of the cover and end slides
  2. Add to project folder of pictures, making sure that cover and end slide are the first and last items (generally, adding an A and a Z in front of the respective names will do the trick)
    OneDrive-all pictures
    Example of an album – cover image, the pictures taken, and the end images. (with a blank image to make the number even and have a better result) 
  3. Select all images in the folder, click “Share” > “Print”

    OneDrive - SharePrint
    You will find the Share > Print option on top of your screen

4. In the screen that pops up,  select “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the printer and determine a layout (generally 2 or 4 to a page)

OneDrive-popup
In this screen, please make sure you select “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the printer. You can  change orientation by clicking “Options” . 

5. Click “Print” and save the resulting PDF. You can view it here

Remarks:

  • You can only create the album in the OneDrive Client – the Online and App versions do not have this functionality. In fact, this is Windows functionality and not limited to OneDrive. 
  • You can use a “blank image” just before the last image to make the number even and have a better print result. 
  • You can change the orientation of the pictures/album by clicking “Options” in the pop up screen and then “Printer Properties”.
  • Unfortunately you can only use one display for the whole series. It would have been nice if you could decide to make the both cover and end slides a full page in the series, and provide the pictures in e.g. 4 on a page. This is clearly a limitation of this way of working.

The result

My colleague was especially happy with the camera options of the OneDrive app, which he was not aware of before. Just after taking a few pictures he realized that this will be a big time-saver. 
The second part, creating the album with the OneDrive Client instead of PowerPoint, felt like a bigger change in practice, but he was willing to try it. 

As usual, this is nothing fancy. It is just trying to match a need with existing functionality. And it makes me happy when I succeed. 🙂 

Image by Congerdesign on Pixabay.

Looking at myself all day in Office365

LookingatMyselfLong ago

Around 2005 I was involved with creating a new SharePoint-based intranet.

At that time we had “Knowledge Areas” on our old custom-built intranet. The Knowledge Areas contained information for a specific region, function, topic or country.
They were an early version of team sites, containing a combination of FrontPage Webs, “Document Cabinets” and Forums.
Each Knowledge Area had an owner, whose name was mentioned on the homepage.

The Knowledge Areas were to be replaced with SharePoint team sites. We wanted to brighten up the design of our new intranet and made a few prototypes to show the Knowledge Area managers.

They all went berserk.

How dared we propose to add their pictures to their name? They did not want to be on public display!
HR and privacy officers stampeded into our offices or called us with questions and concerns. We could not do such an unheard of thing without approvals from all kinds of senior officers!

Of course we had a company directory where all employees could find each other, search for expertise and create organigrams. Of course there was an option to add a picture, but few people did that. I often asked people why they walked on the company’s premises freely, without a paper bag on their head, yet were afraid to show their face to other employees. For some reason this did not have the desired effect 🙂

I have have always liked seeing pictures of my colleagues, especially if they are not in my location. It helps to know what they look like, especially when you may meet them in another office or while travelling to other locations, which I did frequently in those days. But not everyone is an early adopter and some people rather wait until they have seen that no harm befalls those who have shared their looks in the directory.

The only person with an acceptable excuse (in my book) was the Director for Mergers and Acquisitions. If you saw him in your location, you could bet that an acquisition or divestiture  was in the works, with all the speculations, gossip and general unrest that go with a big organizational change. So I understood that he did not want to become too well-known.

Recently

Since 2005 we have all gotten used to seeing our own and other people’s pictures in various places on the intranet: as a contact person for a team site, in permission settings, in the enterprise social network, etc. And now that Office365 uses People Cards, it is more and more important that your profile is uptodate – with a picture to match.

BTW, if your people directory is lagging behind, these tactics may help.  And if you think your people directory is awesome, please take this test.

Now

With Office365  we have switched to the other side and suddenly I am looking at myself ALL DAY.
Not only do I see my face in the details pane in document libraries or list, in Delve, on Yammer, in Search results, but I am also displayed in the Office365 top bar.
A new Office365 profile “experience” has just been announced. I do not know yet if that exposes my face to myself even more 🙂
I find that a bit weird and disconcerting.  Does anyone else feel that this is a bit too much?

Office365bar
OK, it is a small picture on the top right, but still…

Narcissus image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What do YOU call Home(page)?

HomepagesweethomepageThe first page I see when I open a browser on my work laptop is the intranet. That was the case in my previous job and in my current one. When I see peers open a browser window, I rarely see another page, like a search engine page; it is generally an intranet homepage that opens first.

When discussing our new digital workplace the other day, we wondered which page should open when you open your browser. With Office 365 you have a number of options.

  • One person wanted the intranet homepage to be the first page shown, like it is today.
  • Another suggested the Delve page, although he realized that will not be the best page for launch since it needs to fill up with relevant content before people will see the benefits. I personally like the Delve-page, but not as a browser home page. To me it feels too much like a “filter bubble”.
  • A third colleague thought that the SharePoint homepage would be the best option, since it would have all your sites in one place.
  • I preferred the Office 365 landing page since I think that is the best representation of the Digital Workplace. It has all the tools I need on a regular basis: Email, Yammer, Office, SharePoint. With the recent improvements, however small, I think there is a great potential to turn that page into a very useful dashboard to start your working day.

We clearly did not agree so I decided to ask the question in the Office 365 network on Yammer.

The results surprised me!

  • Most organizations have “a specific SharePoint page” as their browser homepage. I assume that is the “intranet homepage”, because the people who voted “Other”, mentioned their intranet homepage as well, but those were not (yet) on Office 365.
  • A surprisingly high number of organizations (19%!) leave the decision to the user. This is totally unthinkable in my corporate world so perhaps these answers were given by smaller consultancies.
  • A disappointing 14% had the Office 365 landing page as their browser opening :-(.

Poll

I have given my feedback about the new Office 365 landing page to Microsoft. I hope they will develop this quickly so I will get my way one day after all 🙂

BTW, since then we decided that the new intranet homepage will be the chosen page.

If you are on, or planning to move to Office 365, what have you selected as your browser homepage?

Image courtesy of atibodyphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The new Office365 Homepage

Update February 2019.

The new icons have arrived! The “Good morning” message has disappeared, which is a pity, especially as the words “Apps” does not really add much to the party. And the Search bar is now in the top middle. I think this is the reason that the company logo has moved from this position to the lest some months ago. It breaks up the nice colour gradient of my pencils though 😦

The bottom part has not changed. I am still looking for non-document updates, such as emails or notifications from Teams or Yammer.

Please scroll down for older versions of the Office365 landing page.

Office365Homepage23-02-2019
Top part of the Office365 Homepage as per 23-02-2019. New icons and the search bar is top middle.

Office365Homepage23-02-2019bottom
The bottom part has not really changed with the changes in Feb 2019.

Update February 2018.

Microsoft has recently made some changes to the Office365 Homepage. You know you will never have a dull moment when you subscribe!

The landing page now looks like the screenshots below. Compared to the last version, it has more white space and the icons are less bulky and coloured (I hope you have not created custom icons in white 🙂 )

It is more gentle on the eyes than the previous design, although that may also have been my own choice of theme.

The profile photo is also better integrated into the design, and my name is displayed.

O365Home-NewTop
The new Office365 Homepage top part as from end 2017.

It now shows more than just “recent” documents, and it shows folders in OneDrive and your Frequent and Followed sites, meaning you will be able to access your favourite sites from this page. This means it is becoming more relevant as the landing page.

O365Home-NewBottom
The new Office365 Homepage bottom part as from end 2017.

My desire to see more non-document updates is still there though. I would be perfectly happy to have this as the landing page to start my working day from, but then it needs different content as well.

In my original post below you will find screenshots of the two most recent versions, as well as what I would like to see next.

This is the original post from June 2016:

Yesterday I logged in to my Office365 and I immediately thought : “Wow, that looks nice”. It is not often that I am struck by a beautiful page, so I decided to write about it.

This is it:

NewOffice365Homepage-NewMine
The new Office365 Homepage

NewOffice365Homepage-Bottom
And this is the bottom of the page. You can decide to show more documents.

First good impressions:

  1. The small top bar is much larger now and that really looks good. It must be my Raspberry theme, although it also looks cool with Cats  🙂
  2. The welcome message is nice, although I know it is calculated from my timezone and my account. Still, it looks vibrant and cheerful.
  3. Your most recent documents are displayed underneath.
  4. You immediately see you can install software. On iPad, you can download Office apps.

NewOffice365HP-iPad
This is the new Office365 Homepage on iPad

What would I like to see as improvements?

  1. It would be nice if you could also search for other things than documents. I am trying to wean myself (and my colleagues) of documents where possible, and this does not help.
  2. That also goes for the recent documents underneath the apps. I would like to see my unread email, or my unread Yammer messages, or the Tasks due today, as well as documents. If Office365 is going to be my Digital Workplace, it should display more than just documents.
  3. A little badge on each app to show the number of unread messages, or new tasks, or something like that,  would also be nice!
  4. The coloured bar overlaps the profile picture a little, so that needs some tweaking.

And this is the page as it used to look (on a different tenant) or still looks, if you are not on First Release.

NewOffice365page-old
The “old” Homepage

All in all, I quite like this change and I think it can be made even better!

Creating an adoption plan with the Office365 Customer Success Center

O365successAt the Office 365 summit  I learned about the Office365 Success Center. This contains tons of resources and planning tools to get your Office365 launch and adoption planned. I was quite happy about that because it means all those Microsoft/Office365 customers no longer have to reinvent all wheels themselves. (You know I hate that)

A Yammer implementation (Work like a network)
I recently had the opportunity to do a Yammer implementation for a specific team so I was eager to test-drive the tool and share my experiences.

0. Access and sign-in.
Go to https://success.office.com/en-us and go to Adoption > Adoption Plan. My default Dutch version does not have the Adoption Plan options, so please add “en-us” to the URL.

How to create and access your plan.
How to create and access your plan.

After signing in, click on Create New, add title and description, and after saving the following screen is shown. (All progress bars are grey if you start)
You can see different steps with their progress. You set the progress yourself using the Save (in progress – blue) or Finish (finished – green buttons below every topic.
You open or close the item with the icon on the right of the section.
As you go along, you will also see many document-based templates on the left-hand side of the page, such as tips or templates for posters/flyers. This blog focuses on the online plan.

Progress Overviw
Progress Overview. You start with only grey boxes and you set the progress yourself.


1. Stakeholders.

You can select which roles are involved and add their names. You can also remove all roles not needed. In this case, we only had a few roles, but it was a useful exercise to note the names and responsibilities for everyone in the project team.

Adding names to roles
Adding the names to the roles.

2. Vision
The tool tells you to use ”1-4 sentences” but it is unclear exactly how many characters you can use. There is no warning when you exceed the character limit. In that case your data is simply not saved, or an older shorter version is saved.

Vision statement
Enter the Vision statement


Suggested improvements:

  • Add information about the # of characters allowed for the Vision. Show a warning when you are using more.
  • Make the Vision statement more useful, by e.g. prompting to check or revise the vision during creation of your plan.  I understand that a tool like this can not tell you that “this action or metric is not in line with your vision”, but I would like to be prompted to review the vision or to check if your action plan will promote the vision.

3. Scenario
Next in line is the Scenario you are looking for. There are 5, and I chose “Work like a network”. You can then prioritize the scenarios, but we only had one so there was no need.

4. Success Metrics
Of course you have to measure if you are on plan.  You get 6 examples, but you can add, edit and delete according to your own plans.
The examples were very useful for the exact wording of our metrics, but the display is a little odd 🙂

Success Metric section
The Success Metrics section. Good content, but the display needs some work.


Suggested improvements:

  • In the plan, please improve the display of the texts – there is html in there (screenshot)
  • In the Snapshot, check display – many spaces between words are missing.

5. Activities
Selecting your Scenario filters the suggested Activities for your project. These contain a very complete overview of all possible actions during pre-launch, launch and post-launch, including a proposed timeline.
There were a few that we had not thought of and gladly included in our plan.  There were also a couple that were not relevant for us, so we removed those.

Activities
Activities, grouped by Pre-Launch, Launch and Post-Launch.


Suggested improvements:

  • Replicate the names of the Stakeholders automatically into the Owner fields.
  • Explain what the square box does. (highlighted)
  • Replace “Office365” by “Yammer” in the Activities texts if you select the “Work like a network” scenario.

6. Snapshot
You can save and download a Snapshot (in Word) of your adoption plan, with all information you entered as well as a lot of explanation, tips etc. This turned out to be many pages (25 in our case for just 1 scenario!), and it also does not sort as in the plan.
I had to rework it (mainly removing all content that was not added/modified by ourselves) to make it into a concise actionable sharable plan.

Snapshot in Word
The Snapshot is your total plan in a document


Suggested improvements:

  • Add an option to create one Snapshot per scenario. Success Metrics and Activities may be different for each scenario.
  • Remove the additional info from the Snapshot so you end up with a concise plan, preferably in Excel so it can be turned into a SharePoint Task List 🙂 
  • Make Snapshot available as PowerPoint and/or Sway  so it can instantly be presented and/or shared.
  • Check texts for consistency: e.g. the Stakeholders are called Project Members  in the Snapshot.
  • Accept the comments in the first pages of the Snapshot.

Conclusion:
The concept is excellent. This tool and the templates will help you structure your adoption plan for the maximum chance of success, without having to invent everything yourself.
I have suggested some improvements mainly on the execution part. I expect Microsoft will be solving those soon. The current plan is already much better than when I used it a month or two ago.

Have you used this tool as well and if yes, what were your findings?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net