While I was doing the experiments, the following questions popped up:
Does this work in the same way for News posted in Team sites?
Is there any difference when you use a different browser?
Do news items display better in the Yammer apps?
Let’s find out, shall we?
1. Promoting news from a Team site
Until now, I have only shared news from Communication sites. For the sake of completeness, I recreated all news items from my earlier post in an existing Team site in my tenant.
During Promoting to Yammer, the preview does not show the image, nor does it show on Yammer. This was the case for all options.
You may also notice that the display is slightly different than when you promote from a Communications site: there is no space on the left hand side for an image.
Now this Team site was created in January 2018 and is not a modern, group-enabled site so I tried it again with a freshly created Team site. Experiments are marked with T2. I have no “recent” option as this was a brand new site.
The preview shows an image in most cases, and on Yammer the behaviour is the same as for the Communication site as mentioned in my preceding post.
Conclusion: Very modern (group-enabled) Team sites work like a Communications site when showing images on Yammer, but if you have a slightly older Team site, your News header images may not be displayed. You may want to keep this in mind when troubleshooting!
2. Do different browsers show the same result?
I generally work in Microsoft Edge, but when I opened the Yammer page in Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, there was no difference. I also tried Safari on my iPad, same results. So this is not browser-dependent.
3. Yammer iOS apps
The experience in iOS was rather disappointing – no images are visible on iPad or iPhone, and for the Communication site, it showed just the link to the page. Not nice!
There’s quite a number of factors that influence the visibility of images on Yammer. Location of image, site type, site age, web or app, so there can be various reasons why the image from your News item is not displayed when shared on Yammer!
We frequently get questions about external contacts that can not access SharePoint sites that they should have access to. Well, access and permissions are troublesome in all organizations, but access issues for external users can have additional causes and solutions, so here’s an overview to help Site Owners and support and admin people (such as myself) to identify and fix issues.
The site owner can check the first 4 items, and if that does not work, the support and admin folks may be able to help with 4, 5, 6 and 7. It always helps to ask for a screenshot of the error messages, because you can already learn a lot from those.
It is wise to advise external users to log in with their browser in private or incognito mode, especially if they are from an organization that also has Microsoft365. It will avoid account mixups. Thank you, former colleague Anita, for reminding me!
1. Does the user have access?
Let’s make sure that is not an issue, right? Check if the user is a Guest on Teams, or in case of a stand-alone SharePoint site, check if this person has permissions. Please be aware that external users only become visible in SharePoint permissions after they have been in the site once. So, if you can not find them in the Visitors or Members, it does not mean they have not been added. In the screenshot below, I have already added someone with a Gmail account, but that person has not yet accessed the site. You may want to check item 2 first.
2. Has the user seen the invitation?
Warn your user that the invitation may end up in the Spam, Junk email, Unwanted items or whatever their non-regular mailbox is called. My invitation to a Gmail account was considered Spam, and my invitation to a Hotmail account also ended up in Junk mail. Messages in Gmail Spam are deleted after 30 days (see below) and in Hotmail Junk in 10 days, so your external contact may never have seen their invitation!
3. Has the user’s invitation expired?
External users need to do their first log in within 90 days, or their invitation expires. In Classic team sites, the Site owner will see this in Site Settings > Access requests and invitations, under “Show History”. If it says “Expired” you may want to add the user again. In Communication sites, check Gear wheel > Site Information > View all site settings > Access requests and invitations. I could not find this option in other site types, and adding “/Access%20Requests/pendingreq.aspx?mbypass=1” to the root did not help either.
4. Does the user log in with the exact email address as per the invitation?
This is a frequent cause of problems. If you have added your externals with their Outlook or Hotmail account, they can generally access smoothly; if they have a Gmail, Yahoo or other free mail account you can warn them to expect issues, but if they have an email account for work, using their own domain name, you can not tell whether they can expect issues or not. Externals should access with a Microsoft account. So if you give someone access with their Gmail account, they are prompted to create or use a Microsoft account. This is not always clear, I have found.
Another issue can be if the user has multiple emailadresses, and they access with the wrong one. We recently had an issue where the person had two very similar addresses. It was not clear to both the external and the site owner that he was logging in with @organization.eu, while access was given to @organization.nl ! It was clear from the error message, but you know how people can panic over error messages 🙂
SharePoint admins may use the follwing Microsoft info when trying to help the Site Owner:
5. Is the site accessible for external users? (admin only)
Another reason for issues can be that the site is internal-only. In my organization sites are by default internal, but when external access is needed, we can open them up. When people request a new site and they specify that the audience contains external users, we make it accessible for externals from the start. Otherwise, it needs to be changed when the need is there, but site owners do not always know or remember that most sites are internal-only. An admin can check the sharing settings in the SharePoint admin center.
6. Is the external user listed as a Guest user in the Admin center? (admin only)
External users added to Teams will be visible straight away, but again, for stand-alone SharePoint site they need to have accessed the site first. If they are mentioned, they have access and have been able to access this or another site in your tenant. If they are not visible, it does not necessarily mean they have not been added.
7. Has guest access expired automatically? (admin only)
This is a relatively new feature in the SharePoint admin center. You can limit the time that a guest has access, counting from the moment the guest has been given access. After the time has expired, the site admin receives an email and can extend the period.
Personally I would welcome the option to set an expiry time after a certain period since the last log-in, but “from the moment you have been given access” does not make much sense to me. You can be in the middle of a project and then get kicked out because it has been 60 days since you were given access and the site admin has overlooked the email or forgotten to extend your access? Most annoying!
8. Has the other organization blocked access to external networks?
Sometimes the employer of your external guest does not allow access to external networks. You will not know, and it is up to the external guest to find out. There’s not much you can do about it, except giving the external person an account from your own organization.
Access to Teams
Although external users can have difficulty accessing a Team as well, access is much easier to check than in stand-alone SharePoint sites. Permissions to a Team are easier to check, and guest users to Teams are immediately visible in the Guest users in the admin portal, while SharePoint users only become visible when they have accessed the site once.
Did I miss anything?
Have you found a frequent issue with external users and how have you solved that? Would you know where to find the Access requests and invitations in modern non-communication sites? Or do you have another question or remark? Please add them to the comments!
“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! 👇
What does it do?
Here’s a nice explainer video from Melissa Torres. (Thank you, Phil Worrell, for sharing that)
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.
📰 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.
❓ 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.
One of my colleagues asked me to help her with setting up a “news functionality” in a communications site. She had the following requirements:
nice and inviting looking, with images
easy to add news for two or three publishers
readers have the option to set an email notification
SharePoint News is excellent of course, but it does not lend itself well to notifications, as we have seen before.
Sending a News digest then? No, because the site owner does not know whom to send it to. The content is not confidential and the site is accessible for all employees. The content is not of interest for all employees, so sending it to “All Employees” is not a good option either. Any other option would need her to maintain users – but she has kept the site open so she does not have to maintain anything more than some publishers.
Same issue with a Power Automate action – although that works better than a notification, she does not know whom to send it to. And asking all interested people to create a workflow themselves would create a ton of support questions. “Low-code” is still “too much code” for someone who is not interested in creating workflows. BTW, I have used the “Send a customized email when a new file is added” template for some time, which sends a link to a recently published News item.
A list, then?
So I decided to check something else. Whatever happened to the good old Announcement list, that I have used so often in earlier roles? And had I not recently seen a new list template with a large image on display? I decided to check if one of these could meet all requirements. Besides, it would provide a good reason to play with the new Lists app 🙂
👎 There is no Announcement list template in a Communication site. I knew that the Communication site has fewer options, but I just forgot that this was also not available.
👍 When I started to work from a Custom List, I found that I could add a column to upload a picture. That must be new – I only remember the unpleasant option for “hyperlink or picture” that needs a link and a properly formatted image.
👍 The Custom List now also has a Gallery View option, which I used to create a News view, consisting of
Title (single line of text)
Body (multiple lines of text)
👉 You will need to have the picture stored on your PC when you create a news item in this way. This means you can not use those lovely Stock Photo, Search on Web and Organizational Assets options you have when creating a News item, but I guess that for some people this may not be a problem.
👍 Looks nice when added to a page.
👍 When you click on an item from the page, you can read the item in full.
👎 Notifications work as expected, but instead of a thumbnail of the image, you see an unpleasant URL.
Asset Manager list?
So, I decided to investigate that Asset Manager list template that I saw displayed in the new Lists app. After a few tests, I removed all columns except:
Device Photo (which I renamed to Image)
Asset Tag (which in the List settings is called Title and cannot be renamed, single line of text)
Condition Notes (which is the only Multiple line of text field in the list). I renamed that to “Body” to be in line with the Announcements list.
I created a News view based on the Asset Gallery View and added that to the page
Well, it looked as if I just recreated that Custom List 🙂 It behaved in exactly the same way as the other one.
Other observations about Lists
When you click “Create an app” from the Site menu, it leads you to the old page with the different list templates. When you click “New List” from the Site Contents page you go to the new List apps creation page. You can also select “New App” which will lead you to the “old” lists. I hope this will get streamlined over time as it can be a bit confusing.
You will see a bit of the body text if you use “Plain Text” in the body. If you use “Rich Text” or “Enhanced Rich Text”, it will not display. I personally like the Rich Text, as it gives you just a few more options, but I guess you will need to decide what is most important.
When you click on an item from the page, you see a reasonably nice page to read the full news item. If you click from the list, you get a much more unpleasant view, huddled to the right with a “Show more” link for the body text, even if the text is not that long.
All three options can facilitate creating news items easily, once someone has set up those lists and web parts.
SharePoint News is superior in options for making great pages, and also has more display options for the web part, but the other lists provide better options for notifications, although the notification email is very plain.
When the site owner saw the SharePoint News, and the News digest, she fell in love instantly and decided that maintaining a Distribution List (yikes, but one of the few options to send a News digest quickly to a large audience) for her “core audience” was worth the extra work. The “core audience” can then distribute it to others.
As mentioned in earlier posts, the majority of my colleagues have 2 GB of storage space in their OneDrive and some struggle to stay within those limits.
So, we are currently helping them with cleaning up and giving them some tips on how to keep within boundaries. It may be interesting for you as well!
1. Empty the Recycle Bin
You may want to start with a clean slate, so let’s empty the Recycle Bin first. If, during cleaning, you accidentally delete too much, you will have fewer documents to search through for restoring. Also, emptying the recycle bin will free up space!
2. Check the size of your OneDrive
It helps to know how much stuff you have, and how much you need to remove. So, click on the Gear wheel top right, click “OneDrive settings” and then select “More settings”. You will pass a useful screen with notification options – worth looking at but out of scope for this post.
Then click “Storage metrics”.
On the next page you will see the lists in your OneDrive site collection (it is a SharePoint site collection, after all) and the amount of free space is shown top right.
3. Move shared documents to SharePoint or Teams
Sharing documents in OneDrive to collaborate on is great as long as the document is not final. Once it is final, please move it to a SharePoint site so it can be part of the team’s collective knowledge and make room in your OneDrive.
Do not hoard shared OneDrive documents – if you leave the organization your OneDrive will disappear with all its content. (After a period when your manager can access it.) We frequently get questions about lost shared documents as many people appear not to be aware of this. 😦
So, check out which documents you share and with whom. Do you still need them at all? Do you still need to share them or are they ready to live elsewhere?
If you want to move the documents to SharePoint, go back to your “My One Drive” section, select them and then click “Move To” from the grey bar and select the SharePoint site where they will live. (Make sure you follow that site so it appears as one of your first choices). The documents will be deleted from your OneDrive in the process. (If you want to know how Copy To and Move To work, read my earlier post and also my post about the risks)
If you have many documents to move, you may either want to do it in smaller batches or use Copy To and delete the documents after you have checked that they have all safely arrived at their SharePoint destination.
And if you no longer need the documents you share, you can just delete them.
4. Create or Request a SharePoint or Teams site
In case you have no location at your disposal, create or request a SharePoint site or a Team (which comes with a SharePoint site) so you can share documents with your project team or department.
5. Find the largest and the oldest documents
Unfortunately you will have to do this by folder, as you can not create views without folders. Although OneDrive is a SharePoint site, it misses some cool SharePoint functionality, such as the option to add metadata columns and create views, or the possibility to add templates. (note to self: submit to User Voice 🙂 )
The following paragraph has been added in May 2020: * Please be aware that Microsoft365 adds folders to your OneDrive when you use certain applications. The “Attachments” folder to store email attachments is one, but Apps (contains Forms documents), Microsoft Teams Data, Microsoft Teams Chat files and Pictures can also contain a lot of documents that you may not be aware of. Read my post on this topic*
Open a folder and click on the pull-down arrow next to the File size column and click on “Larger to smaller”. Determine whether the largest files need to stay on your OneDrive. They may fit on your SharePoint or Teams site as well, so you can Move them there, or perhaps they can be deleted.
Then sort for the oldest documents by clicking the pull-down arrow next to the Modified column and selecting “Older to newer”. Generally you will have accumulated quite a lot of documents in your career. When projects have been completed or interest has waned, you might as well move them to a SharePoint archive site, a records center (in that case they should have been moved there long ago!) or delete them.
6. Remove versions
This can make sense for very large documents that you have worked on intensively and that you want to keep. There may be several versions that take up space.
Select the document, click the … to the right of the name, and select “Version History” from the menu.
You will now see the versions.
If you are still working on the document, it may be safer to remove the oldest versions only.
If your document is final, you can delete all versions and keep the latest version only. If there are many versions involved, the quickest route is to go to the Storage Metrics (see par. 2), click on “Documents” and drill down until you see the document.
Click “Version history” on the right of the document and then you will see an option to delete all versions in one go, leaving the last one.
7. Move private files to a personal location
While it is all too common to have a mix of private and organizational docs on your systems, your OneDrive is primarily meant for organizational stuff. Your private info should not be here, especially if it takes up valuable storage space. You also do not want to lose it when you leave the organization, right? So, move your personal files and photo’s to your private OneDrive (now with extra-secure Personal Vault), iCloud, Google Drive, a USB stick or another place.
8. Empty the Recycle Bin and check storage
Hopefully this has helped you get below that 2 GB. If you, you need to repeat and be a little more strict this time around!
9. Repeat regularly
In order to stay below the limit, go through these steps again on a regular basis.
Do you have tips?
Do you have experience with colleagues whose OneDrive fills up quickly? Any suggestions that we can use?
Do you have to write the same text time and time again? For instance, an email confirming an appointment, a work instruction or an in-company invoice?
There are a few ways to do that.
1. Re-use and existing mail or document
I guess this feels as the easiest way. But how often have you forgotten to remove the “FW” when you forwarded that email, or forgot to change the salutation? And have you ever overwritten and saved a document that you wanted to keep intact?
Yeah, thought so 🙂
2. Store the text in Word or OneNote and copy-paste
You will have fewer accidents with this option, but now you may suffer from extensive but invisible make-up. This may cause your texts to have weird indents or line spacing when you have pasted them. The best way to strip off the code is to copy-paste to Notepad and then into the final message, but this is often forgotten and also not 100% guaranteed.
Besides, you will have to store that document or note and look for it whenever you need it.
3. Email template – text only
An easy way to manage your email texts is with an email template. That lives in Outlook so it is easily available when you need it – no need to search!
You can create as many templates as you want. You can store about 2100 characters in a template.
Open new email
In the ribbon, top right, click the … and select “View Templates” from the popup
You will see a few standard templates
To create a new template, click on +Template
Give your template a title (e.g. “Appointment confirmation”), add text and/or images and click “Save”
To use a template, click on the title and the text will be added to the email.
Outlook Online – Current Outlook
Open new email
Bottom right, click the Templates icon
Proceed with 3 as above
Outlook Online – The new Outlook
Open new email
Click the … at the bottom of the mail and select “My Templates” from the popup
Proceed with 3 as above
4. Email template – text and make-up (Outlook Client)
If you need to use a template that contains both text and make-up, for instance for an email newsletter or other format, you can do this in Outlook Client/Desktop. It is a much more complicated process, so I would suggest to use this only if the look-and-feel is important and needs to be consistent.
BTW, you get a free email Newsletter when you use SharePoint News, of course, but for all those other occasions this option will be useful.
Before I discovered the templates, I used to store repetitive texts in an email signature. I have shared dial-in information for my personal Live Meeting (I think that was what web conferencing was called in those days 🙂 ), and shared help and support information in that way. Although I only use templates now, there may be cases where you prefer an email signature.
Microsoft has good instructions for creating signatures. However the screenshots are a tad outdated. Now, you either use “Tell me what you want to do” or open a new email and click the Insert tab > Signature” to get to the signatures location.
You can have multiple signatures in the Outlook Client, but please be aware you can only add one per email, so always make sure your name and other information is included.
Outlook Online – current Outlook
To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
On the bottom of the popup, under “Your app settings” click “Mail”
Under “Mail > Layout” on the left of the screen, click “Email signature”
Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”
To add a signature manually, open a new email, click … on top of the message and select “Insert signature”
Outlook Online – the New Outlook
To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
Click “View all Outlook Settings” on the bottom of the popup
Select “Compose and Reply”
Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”
Please note you can only have one signature in Outlook Online.
6. Document template in SharePoint – general
You can add a template to a SharePoint document library for your team’s recurring documents. Think about reports or work instructions. You can do this for all Microsoft documents and you can have multiple templates in one library.
Anyone who can manage the document library can do this, so you will need at least Edit permissions.
I use and suggest this very often right now and wish it was also available in OneDrive!
Create the document you want to use as a template and save it with a meaningful name – it may help to add “template” to the name
Open the document library in question, click “New” and then “Add Template”
Upload the template
Check that it displays correctly.
To create a new document in the template, click “New” in the Document Library and select the template. A new instance of the template will open.
To move position of the template, or to make changes to the template itself, click “New” > “Edit New menu”. A popup will appear on the right-hand side of the page.
Hover over the document to be removed, repositioned or edited, click the three dots that appear to the right of the name and you will get a popup with options.
7. Document template in SharePoint – custom
It is also possible to add a custom template document as the default document. I can imagine this may have its uses when you want to use it for very formal documents, such as contracts or financial reporting. Those documents will have a strict format that needs to be adhered to.
In that case you can do that via the Library Settings > Advanced Settings. Microsoft describes the steps here. Although they mention SharePoint Online, they talk about “email-enabling” the library, which has been deprecated for several years by now, so I wonder when this has been last reviewed. (Of course I gave feedback to this article)
This needs Site Owner permissions but may also be done by an admin or IT.
Collaboration Team sites home pages showed the security classification of the content, the audience and the site owner. (Useful! If applied correctly…)
We added another permissions level to avoid site owners creating subsites.
The document content types had 20 fields of hidden metadata in them, as per our term store. This was to improve the search experience – after all, in a 40.000 employee company with many locations, a few metadata would be most helpful to find the document from the correct business, function or location.
Dude, where’s my documentation?
So, when the intranet was ready to launch, and support was handed over to the regular support team, the Support team manager asked the developers for all the documentation. It was not there and they had not planned for it. Against the advice of Veronique Palmer, he accepted this as a fact and support was handed over to the support team. After all, one of the developers was in-house so we could always turn to him.
Or so we thought, as he left the organization shortly after launch of the intranet…
Support mostly went OK as the majority of issues had to do with permissions. But when the content types started to show issues we had no clue where to go for help, so we ended up installing the regular content types. Nobody wanted to complete 20 metadata fields for each document! And when the organization changed structure, the metadata changed as well and nobody knew where to make the changes in the content types.
What to document?
So, while I agree with everyone that too much documentation is a waste of time and effort, it DOES make sense to document:
Any custom functionality. What is the customization supposed to do? What are the specific settings? Is this set by tenant, site collection, or site? Where are the settings to install and implement it? What can go wrong? What NOT to do (for the admins and the users)? Where to go when support people or architects need to look, change or troubleshoot? Etc.
Anything that is on the roadmap to be improved after the MVP-state. What does it do now? Into which direction will improvements most likely go? Where and how to make those changes? What to look out for? What will break and will need to be fixed when you make those improvements?
Anything that can be expected to need adjustments with organizational change. And trust me, organizational change will happen! The company’s name, the company’s logo, the businesses, there may even be splits, mergers or acquisitions on the horizon. So, make clear where your intranet logo and images live, what effect changing terms in the term store will do to your customizations, and where you need to make the necessary changes to make sure the organizational changes are reflected correctly.
Now it is time to gather the responses and see how they are displayed and what you can do with them. It is quite a long read but there are many screenshots as well!
What to look out for?
How you can distribute the link to the survey
What the survey looks like when you respond
How the results are being displayed by default and if you can export them
What else you can do with the data
All tools allow creating a link or sending an email with the link.
Forms has the additional option to add the form directly on a SharePoint page, which looks very inviting, especially if the survey contains only a few questions. Forms can also generate a QR code to take you to the survey.
The SharePoint survey and Custom List can be added as a web part on a SharePoint page, but they are not exactly inviting users to enter.
SurveyMonkey has many different ways to get responses.
Google Forms allows you to add the survey questions directly into an email, which is very convenient.
Of course the user experience is very important. If your survey has a tiny typeface, or takes forever to load, people are not likely to complete it.
You can still check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Remember: you do not have to add any real data.
I am sharing some screenshots of remarkable things.
The Net Promotor Score looks special:
This is the SharePoint Survey, in case you had forgotten what it looks like 🙂
And this is how you enter data into a SharePoint custom list: in the information pane on the right-hand side of the page, which feels a bit strange.
Next to a rather large font size, SurveyMonkey has the option to create columns for answers, which I really like as they make good use of space:
Google Forms has nothing special, but it looks solid and modern.
Thank you everyone who has responded to one of the surveys! This allows me to show some of the results graphs. This is what the various response pages look like:
SharePoint Survey. I am sharing only part of the graphical summary as I guess you have seen it before and it is not very exciting. Now I remember how annoying that “multiple responses” question is – you need to re-score everything manually! 😦
The SharePoint custom list has no graphical summary. You just see the responses as line items in a list.
SurveyMonkey has a very long page of results. All responses are shown with a scroll bar (see the first screenshot) or with a graphical summary first and then the individual responses below. For each chart, you can change the chart type.
I will only show a few screens.
Google Forms results look like this:
I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel. Look at the “Responses and Results” tab. Please use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.
Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
Orange: Available with a workaround
Red/No: Not available
Again, the classic SharePoint options are in a league of their own.
Microsoft Forms appears to have more in common with SurveyMonkey Free and Google Forms than with SharePoint. All three surveys are pleasant to complete and the graphical display of results is much better than with the SharePoint survey.
Forms is really the new way to conduct surveys in your organization and possibly with externals. It looks pleasant both on a SharePoint page and when completing it, it has a ton of good options, decent colourful graphs and it works with Flow.
Some people will really like that Net Promoter Score 🙂
I am sure that Forms will continue to develop, so I will try to keep this comparison up-to-date.
The SharePoint survey feels a tad outdated, although you can still conduct good surveys with it. The graphical summary is very inferior to what Forms has to offer. My suggestion would be to use this only when you need one of the more advanced Q & A options, such as selecting a name from someone in your organization. The whole permissions management is also more complicated than with Forms, as described in my “SharePoint Survey lifecycle” blog.
The SharePoint custom list may not be the option that comes to mind first when you talk about a survey, but especially the options to process the data after collection can be the reason to use it. You can group and filter the entries just like any View and edit entries (e.g. mark an item as “Completed” or add a certain category). With the additional column types and the connection with Flow this can be the tool of choice when collecting data from the organization is the starting point for a project or process.
There are no graphics by default, but PowerBI may be used if needed.
Many thanks to my former colleague Scott Lewis who pointed out the benefits of custom lists when combined with Forms and Flow.
SurveyMonkey is of course THE specialized tool for surveys. It has extensive help for your survey questions and many options. It is the only tool that can show columns of responses, which is nice to keep your survey compact. It allows you to change the chart type of the results if desired. However, the free version has a few annoying limitations and I personally find the “management” interface rather cluttered.
For large-scale complicated surveys where you need to analyze responses in-depth the paid version beats Microsoft Forms.
Google Forms is a solid modern tool. Apart from the “display form straight in an email” it does not have any remarkable features.
Hope this comparison is useful to you. Have I missed any that are important for you? Please let me know – also if it has helped to move your colleagues away from SurveyMonkey (free) or GoogleForms! 🙂
“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)”.
So I showed him there were more options and that he’d better select “Name (with picture and details)”.
So he did, and he went back to the list. But no image was shown.
I checked the column again, as this was unexpected behaviour. Yes, that was the right setting.
I also tried the other options, “Picture only” in various formats. But the image would not show.
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?
But then I thought, what about Classic View?
I switched to Classic View and there it was:
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.
This time, I would like to take a look at the settings – what can you decide about your survey as a whole?
Which settings can you apply to your survey?
Permissions to create and manage a survey – can anyone do it or do you need special permissions? Can you hand a survey over to someone else?
Look and feel – can you use colours and add branding to the survey?
Who can respond and details about the responses.
How to start and stop collecting responses.
Custom thank-you message.
Whether you can easily copy your survey.
Where can you find the settings?
The settings in Forms can be found in the top right. The palette is for the theme, the … will lead you to the other settings.
For the SharePoint survey/list you have some options in the Advanced Settings:
For SurveyMonkey, you can find most of the settings in the “Design Survey” phase, with different options in the buttons on the left:
For Google Forms you look at the top right, where the palette will allow you to determine the look-and-feel and the gear wheel will show other settings to select:
I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel. I have added this info as a separate tab in the same document as in my earlier post. You can use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.
Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
Orange: Available with a workaround
Red/No: Not available
Again, all surveys have different options but the differences are relatively small between Microsoft Forms, Google Forms and SurveyMonkey.
SurveyMonkey has some interesting options, such as a limit on the number of responses, suggestions for questions, and the SurveyMonkey Genius which gives an estimated time to complete and suggestions for the setup of the survey. (Under “Preview and Score”)
The SharePoint options appear to be a different animal altogether. They have their uses though, as mentioned in my earlier post.
During the writing of this post some more info about Forms was made available:
You can still check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Please do not use real data, as I will use the inputs only for demonstrating how results will be displayed: