10 more things to know about creating SharePoint News

Decorative image - a self-created concoction of the SharePoint logo, a Newspaper icon and the number 10.

Some time ago I wrote a post: 15 things to know about creating SharePoint News

By now it is 16 things, because posts with numbers are cursed, as my fellow bloggers will know ๐Ÿ˜

In the mean time I have learned a few more things, so it is time for an update.

1. The news publishers in your organization may appreciate guidelines

With all the options SharePoint has to offer, in web parts, columns, fonts and font colours, you may want to provide your News publishers with a few writing and design guidelines. This will help create some consistency across your intranet.
I have shared my last organization’s guidelines in an earlier post: Writing SharePoint news posts (our way). This post was pretty popular so I guess it fills a need.

2. Be aware of when to use which image source

I have tried every option and made an overview in this post: Images in SharePoint news and pages.

In short:

  • Using an image from Web Search and Upload will create a new folder and file in your Site Assets library. All other options do not.
  • You have most control using Upload or Site, as you will know where the image is stored and you will be able to re-use it easily
  • Stock Images and Organizational Assets are the best options when you care about respecting intellectual property, assuming someone is in charge of maintenance of Organizational Assets

3. In some cases the header image is not visible

I have written about troubleshooting images. These are a few common causes:

  • The “Plain” page template (no image) is used
  • Readers have no permission to view the picture, for instance because it lives in someone’s OneDrive
  • The image has been moved or deleted
  • On Yammer, in some cases when the post has been promoted to Yammer – see point 4.
Screenshot of SharePoint news web parts with a post with header image that was deleted, and a post in Plain template, with no header image by default.
Example of a News web part with a news post with a deleted header image (top) and one using a Plain template (with no header image)

4. Promoting a post to Yammer may not show it as nice as you expect

How your News post looks on Yammer is depending on

5. The Description field can be used for several purposes

The Description is a field that you can find in the Page Details. It is easily overlooked, and you do not have to use it, but it can be quite powerful.

  • Create a summary of your post. This will be displayed under the title of the post and will show your readers quickly what the post is about. You will have to make an effort, as by default the first part of the body text will be displayed.
    The Description will also be shown in the Newsletter and in Search results.
  • Hide key words that will be used in Search results. It is best if you add these keywords as far to the bottom of the description as possible, to avoid it showing up in the news overviews.

Read more about it: 7 things to know about the Description field (by now it is 8…sigh ๐Ÿ˜Š)

Screenshot of two examples of a SharePoint News post: one with the default Description (= the first part of the body text), one with a short summary of the post, which shows you quickly what the post is about.
Example of a summary: To the left, a custom summary of the post. To the right: The default description: the first paragraph which trails off.

6. You can add a publication date on the post or page itself

The publication date of a News article will be visible on the News web part, (if you have that enabled), but when you open a News post you do not see the publishing date. You may want to add the date from the web part settings in the header (1), then toggle on the “show published date” button (2) and then the date will be shown underneath the title and author (3). I have not found a way to enable this by default. Please let me know if there is an easy way to make this the standard.
Adding the publication date is a good practice for intranet pages with a longer lifespan.

Screenshot of SharePoint news post in the making, with the option to add the Published date to the post itself, underneath title and author.
The web part settings is where you can make the publication date visible. By default it is off, unfortunately.
Screenshot of SharePoint news page with the News web part. The publication date is shown, but this date is by default not replicated on the news article itself.
You can show the publication date in the News web part, as shown here, but this does not show on the News post by default.
Screenshot of SharePoint News article, published, with the publication date underneath title and author. This is useful for both news and intranet pages.
This is the publication date on the published post.

7. You can manage comments on your posts and pages

Your readers can respond to posts by clicking the Like button or adding a comment. Notifications will be sent via email to you. If this gets a little overwhelming or distracting, my post 4 ways to manage comments on SharePoint news or pages may help you.

8. If you are publishing “on behalf of” an Author, here’s some ways to redirect comments to them

By default, Likes and Comments are sent to the person who has published the post. There is no standard option to redirect them to the person who is the intellectual owner (as opposed to the publisher) of the post.
I have come up with a few workarounds in this post: Diverting SharePoint news comments to the Author.

9. In some cases you will NOT see “See All” on the News web part

Sometimes the “See all” link, which you will need to see more news items and in order to create a Newsletter, is not visible:

  • When you have less than 5 published News posts
  • When you use the Hub News display
  • When you have hidden the “Title and Commands” in the web part settings.

You can read more about it in my post SharePoint Holmes and the Disappearing Digest link.

Screenshot of SharePoint news web part settings, where you can toggle off the "Show title and command" bar. This will take away the word News, but also some other useful things.
If you toggle the “Show title and commands” off, the items News, See all and Add in the top bar will not be visible on the page.

10. The Carousel display still has usability limitations

Even Microsoft, who are big on inclusive design, have not managed to come up with a good Carousel. It also does not display any indication of the content of the article apart from the title. You can read my rant in this post: Can you get a text preview in a SharePoint News Carousel?

Screenshot of a SharePoint news Carousel.
An example of a Carousel.

As SharePoint is evolving, we keep finding out more and more things about it, so please stay tuned and keep asking me questions, so SharePoint Holmes and I can investigate!

Number “10” by publicdomainpictures.net

Can you get a text preview in a SharePoint News Carousel?

I recently got the following question: “Is it possible to get a text preview from News in a Carousel? This would be for those users who want to see more than just the title, but without clicking.”

I love this type of questions, so I decided to find out.

Carousels and me

I am not a big fan of Carousels. I can imagine the large images look nice, but I have read too many negatives. The quick why? This website: https://shouldiuseacarousel.com/

They do not provide good usability, for instance:

  • People tend to overlook them.
  • Most people do not spend enough time on a page to see all the items in the Carousel, so generally only 1 or 2 posts are being seen by most visitors.
  • The buttons to move them forward are too small and not easily clickable for people who have problems with their motoric skills.
  • Screenreaders cannot deal with them.

At the bottom of this post I have added a number of articles.

When Microsoft introduced a Carousel for SharePoint News, I honestly thought that they had solved the issue because why would they, who are pretty big on usability and accessibility, introduce functionality that would not have a good usability? But when I saw the product, I noticed that it just looked like all others. I could not find a usability review by anyone. (Please let me know if you know one).

BTW, I really love the below image (from Microsoft’s Inclusive Design pages) to show that inclusivity issues are more common than you might think. Not everyone has a permanent issue, but many people have temporary or situational issues. A small part of the population is blind, but many people have eyesight issues, including myself before my cataract operations – I had problems with colour contrasts and very small print, for instance.

Diagram with common situations when someone cannot touch, see, hear or speak "normally" due to permanent or temporary disability, or a specific situation, such as a bartender that cannot hear well because of a noisy environment.
The Microsoft Inclusive design Persona spectrum. I LOVE this.

But I digress! The question was: Is it possible to show a preview of the post, and not just the title, in a Carousel?

I checked a number of items:

1. News web part

I started out with changing my Intranet site’s News web part to Carousel. This is what the Carousel looks like in Edit Mode:

Screenshot of Edit Mode for a News web part in Carousel mode. It has some options to adjust how it is displayed on the page. e.g., number of items, automatic cycle and call to action.
Edit mode for the News web part, when selecting Carousel
  • You can determine the number of posts to show (recommended is max. 5, but you can go to 8)
  • You can change to the next item automatically (not recommended) and set the interval for change.
  • You can show a call to action. We will come back to that later.

So, there is no option in the Carousel itself to make extra information, such as the Description field, visible. On to the next option.

2. News post

The next step was to open one of the posts and see if there is any option for an extra text, image description or anything that could be shown in the Carousel.

In the web part menu, you can add “Text above title” where you can add 40 characters of text, so I did. It is immediately shown. I also added an Alt Text for the image.

Screenshot of news post in edit mode, showing some options for the image and for the display of the post.
Edit mode for the news post, with options

3. Page Details

Then I looked at the Page Details, changed the Description into a snappy summary and added a Call to Action with a link to a Form.
More on the Description field in this post.

Publishing the end result

So, I have 4 possible options to display:

  • Description
  • Text above title
  • Alt text for the image
  • Call to Action

I republished the page and looked eagerly which of the items would manifest itself on the News page.

Nothing. Zero. Zilch. It still just showed the title. Hovering over any element (image, title) did not show anything. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

Screenshot of the News post after adding the extra options, such as "Text over Title", Description, Alt Text for the image, and Call-to-Action. Sadly, nothing is visible, not even when hovering over image or title.
The Carousel after adding all the extra’s and republishing. Sadly, none of the additional items are visible.
  • The Description is only visible in the web part layouts Top Story, List and Side-by-Side.
  • “Text above title” is only visible on the news post itself.
  • Alt text for the image is only available on the news post itself, in the Immersive Reader
  • The Call-to-Action does not show up, and the text and link in the Page Details are deleted after publication, so I guess this does not work. I added a Call-to-Action web part, hoping that it perhaps needed this nearby, but nothing. I will look into that; I remember a discussion on Twitter but forgot between whom.

Conclusion

I think it is currently NOT possible to show a preview, neither by default, nor by hovering over an element. If any of my readers have found a way to do it, please let me know!

Suggestions

At this moment I can only suggest using another web part layout, such as Top Story, List or Side-by-Side. Use the Description text to provide a good summary of the article. This is better for usability and accessibility and would allow users to see what the story is about, so they know whether it is worth their while to click.

Top Story layout. This shows the post’s Title and Description.

Additionally, you can use the Microsoft feedback portal to make a suggestion to allow a preview.

Articles on Carousels:

Carousel Photo by Mihai Vlasceanu: https://www.pexels.com/photo/carousel-with-lights-1403653/

Conferences and OneNote – updated

In-person conferences are back! And while we all managed to attend a lot of conferences online with very few issues, it is great to be able to meet face-to-face again, get swag and rejoice or complain about the catering! ๐Ÿ˜

A few months before the pandemic I wrote a post about using OneNote to capture screenshots of presentations. When you do not want to wait until the slides become officially available, you can quickly grab screens and add them to your notes, provided you have two devices.
You can also use this at online meetings of course – just take a picture from your computer screen.

I have updated the post, as the way to take photos with OneNote has changed somewhat. You will see the button with link below, as the “reblogging” that I did the other day (for the new Microsoft365 Homepage) does not provide a good user experience. ๐Ÿ˜’

Additionally, I am adding an excerpt that you can use during the conference. You can download it as a PDF (and print and fold it), or use the image op top of this post.

As always, feel free to share with your colleagues. I will appreciate if you mention me when sharing it on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Enjoy many in-person conferences!

The new Microsoft365/Office365 Homepage – revisited

Of course, we all knew that Office365 would be renamed/rebranded into Microsoft365, but not when it would happen exactly. To be honest, I had forgotten a bit about it, thinking that Microsoft365 was the subscription to Office365 + additional enterprise functionality.
At Microsoft Ignite 2022 we learned that it will happen, and soon – from November 2022 onwards!
Read more: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/microsoft-365-faqs

I noticed the announcement on my Microsoft365/Office365 homepage, and as I have had many new followers recently, I thought it might be nice to share my collection of Homepages over the years so they can see how this page has developed.
Enjoy the nostalgia! ๐Ÿ˜

Ellen's Digital Workplace

Over time I have captured the various appearances of the Office365/Microsoft365 Homepage. As you may know, I quite like this page as the page where I start work.

That page is updated quite frequently, and I keep all versions in this post. Please scroll down and get some nostalgic feelings. ๐Ÿ™‚

Update October 2022 ๐Ÿ‘‡

As announced during Microsoft Ignite 2022, Office365 will be renamed Microsoft365. We knew this for more than a year, but it was unclear how exactly and when this would happen. Now we know:
โ€œIn the coming months, Office.com, the Office mobile app, and the Office app for Windows will become the Microsoft 365 app, with a new icon, a new look, and even more features.โ€ This will start from November 2022. Microsoft FAQ.

The announcement is on the homepage now. And compared to the December 2021 update, I now have recommended posts, and colourfulโ€ฆ

View original post 2,061 more words

Writing SharePoint news posts (our way)

A few months ago I helped create and introduce a SharePoint intranet for “my” health care organization. The majority of the new intranet consists of SharePoint Pages and News, default functionality. As this provides our publishers with tons of options for layout, colour schemes, styles, fonts and what not, we had to take a few measures to keep a somewhat consistent look-and-feel.
Additionally, many publishers wanted some guidelines as they were a tad overwhelmed with choice.

I mentioned before that our Communications function is not too fanatical in enforcing the corporate style guide on people – everyone can select their own Office365 theme, for instance. But some consistency is needed, of course.

What a difference with my (multinational) employer before! There we spent the majority of our intranet redevelopment budget on creating a complicated News setup, which was at that time not available in SharePoint, with fixed page templates and colour schemes, fonts, whitespace and what not.
Did I ever tell you that, after launch of this beast, the team attended a SharePoint conference and learned that Microsoft would be introducing SharePoint News? Out of the box? FOR FREE?
You can imagine what we felt when we heard that ๐Ÿ™‚

Please find below an overview of our attempts to keep things consistent. Feel free to translate these to your own organization or clients, and please let me know if you use any other guidelines for this purpose.

1. Structure what can be structured

  • All “formal organizational units” have their own site for publishing pages and news posts.
    Although I know you should not structure your intranet according to the organizational setup, there were hardly any other ways to structure it by without running into other issues, such as ownership. Trust me, we tried ๐Ÿ™‚
  • All organizational sites are grouped into one Hub site.
    This allows for one navigation and colour scheme, and roll-up of news.
  • All hub sites have the Blue theme.
    This matches best with our style guide. I offered to change the main blue colour into the actual style guide colour, but that was not necessary.
The standard Blue theme matched well
  • Every hub site has the same site icon.
    This way it is always clear if a site belongs to the intranet.
  • The news web parts on all sites are configured to display title, summary and date only.
    Adding too many data provides a cluttered look. It also uses a little more vertical space.
Left colum: with author, date and views, right column: date only.
  • Headers are compact, footers simple.

2. Provide guidelines for what is flexible

As we use the standard functionality, we had to create some guidelines for writing and design to try and keep the pages and posts consistent and in line with our standards, and to limit the options for publishers. Those guidelines were brought up in training sessions for all potential publishers (and whoever was interested), and are available as reference material.

  • Use a short and catchy title, one line max.
    The title shows what interesting information your text contains, attracts attention, is informative, distinctive and piques curiousity. There are internal trainings for writing catchy titles!
  • Use active text.
    Do not use verbs such as ‘will’, ‘can’, ‘be’, ‘may’, or ‘become’.
  • Do not underline your text.
    Readers may think it is a hyperlink.
  • Avoid abbreviations where possible.
    If you must use one, first write it out completely and add the abbreviation behind it in parentheses. For example: “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)”
  • When you add a document, give the document a clear title, without date or version.
    The date and other information can be viewed from the document library it lives in. And in case you need to edit the information, you do not need to edit the title.
  • Keep your page or news item as short as possible.
    When you really need a long text, please break up your text with headings and use anchors to allow the reader to jump to the desired part immediately.
  • Use capitals sparingly.
    There is a paragraph in the style guide for the use of capitals. (I am a Big Fan of Capitals, but the style guide is not :))
  • Use “One column” or the “One-third right” layout for news posts
    The first one suits straightforward posts, the other is better when you want to add a photo, button, etc.
    For static pages, publishers can use another layout.
The preferred page layout for news when you want more than just text
  • Use our “Image bank” (Organizational assets) or Stock Images for images where possible.
    The photo’s in the image bank are suitable for the organization, and, like the Stock Images, have no copyright issues.
  • When using an introduction text, use standard size, bold, black or “theme dark alternate” blue.
    That blue is well readable and matches best with our corporate colours.
The preferred blue colour
  • For headings, use standard size bold, standard size italics OR heading 2 or 3.
    You can use black or “theme dark alternate” blue, as long as you use the same colour of the introduction text.
  • Add the Publish date on your news posts.
    By default this is off, so this is easy to forget. Perhaps a new page template may help. If anyone knows how to turn this on by default, please let me know!
Show the published date is off by default. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
  • Enable comments for news and short-time pages.
    This allows for discussion within the organization.
    You can disable comments for static pages.
Comments are on by default

You probably recognize some of these as standard writing guidelines, but it never hurts to repeat, as not all publishers are experienced writers.

Please note publishers can deviate from these guidelines, e.g. if they have a post or page about a special topic that needs to stand out.

What have we missed? What do you use?

Please let me know which other guidelines you are using to make your vanilla SharePoint news a little consistent.

SharePoint Holmes and the Invisible Illustration

Creating news in SharePoint is relatively simple compared to publishing on the old intranet, our news publishers have informed us. They especially like the many easy options to add images and web parts.

Still, the other day we got a small mystery to solve.

The case

One of the News items showed a strange header image. The publisher told us that she saw the illustration as intended, and that she had used the standard “Image and Title” template because she wanted to use a header image. The rest of our organization saw a grey/white image instead.

Strange image in the news post, not what the pusblisher intended!

She told us she had followed all the steps she usually did.
Time to wrap up in my SharePoint Holmes cloak!

The investigation

I looked at the news post but I could not see anything wrong with it, not even in admin view.

I checked the Site Assets library where images used on Pages are stored, but there was no folder with the name of the news post. This could either mean the image had not been uploaded, or that she had used a selection option that does not create a folder in the Site Assets. (More on that in my next post)

All images used on pages and news are stored in the Site Pages folder in the Site Assets library.

I then asked if she could reproduce her steps while I was looking, as just looking at people’s actions can give you a ton of extra information.
When it came to adding the header image, she selected “OneDrive” and selected the image of choice. She got a popup and clicked “OK” before I could read the message properly, so I asked her what the message said. She said she just clicked “OK” as this added the image to her post, and she had found that if she clicked “No”, she would go back to the image selection and had to start again, so that made no sense.
She then published the news post and it showed correctly on her screen, like this:

The News publisher sees this image from her OneDrive

But not on mine or anyone else’s.

This is the “image” everyone else sees.

It was time to look at that popup. This is it:

When you use an image located on your OneDrive, you need to share it with everyone in the site.

So, if you want to use an image from your OneDrive, which is private by default, you need to share it first with your intended audience. This makes sense, but there is no way to share it while you are in the process. Clicking “OK” assumes you have shared it, clicking “No” brings you back to the image selection. It would be nice if you could adjust the permissions then and there, like you can do with documents you upload in Teams chats!

The solution

In this case, I suggested to use the “Upload” option and select the image from her OneDrive client on her PC. This will upload the image and create a folder with the illustration, shared with everyone who has access to the site.
She could also have uploaded the image to the Site Assets in her news site, and then select “Site”.
It is also possible to share the illustration with everyone on her OneDrive, before adding it to the news post, but I thought that was too complicated. Not everyone knows that “Everyone except external users” is the group to share it with.

To fellow support folks:

Please notice the difference between adding a OneDrive “image” (1) and not adding a header image (2). This can help you find out if this is a similar case.

1: OneDrive image, not shared. 2: No header image (and no other images) added to the post.

My next post will discuss the various image upload options, so stay tuned!

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 Iโ€™d introduceย SharePoint Holmes, SharePointย investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

SharePoint Holmes and the Tricky Text

The case

One of our teams is using a SharePoint list to capture the goings-on in their department during each shift.

At the beginning of each shift they create a new list item, add info for date and shift and the name of the person in charge and save the item. During the shift they edit the item, adding all the things that need to be captured for later and/or handed over to the next shift.
Generally they are quite happy as the list is less work to update and easier to search through than the Word document they used beforehand.

However, they noticed a few things:

  • When they used interpunction, such as ; or : the results often ended up a bit weird, especially when they were editing an item (e.g. to add something to the list during the shift)
  • They could not list items properly in a text field. They can add something on a new line while writing, but the end result is one large text without any indentation.

That was new for me, so I put my SharePoint Holmes hat on and started investigating. Incidentally Marc Anderson has just showed that you can edit columns on the List side , as well as on List Settings side, and you can get different results, so I checked both.

The investigation

I asked him to show me his issues during a Teams meeting. He shared his screen and I noticed the issues.

I checked the list setup. As it turned out, almost all columns were multiple lines of text (MLOT), Rich Text. (RT)

Rich Text (RT) promises more options than Plain text, yet is easier to work with than Enhanced Rich Text. (List Settings side)

I have always preferred Rich Text, as it has slightly more options than the plain text, while being less cumbersome than the Enhanced Rich Text. That one has more design options, but needs an extra click to access.
You create this Text field after creating the MLOT as Plain Text or Enhanced Rich Text, and then editing the column in the List Settings. (The option is not available when you create the column, and only available in the List Settings)

When you create a column (List side, shown here, OR Settings side) you can only choose Plain Text or Enhanced Rich Text.

I set up a test with three multiple line of text columns, each with a different configuration, and off I went. The strange thing is that I remember that a MLOT in RT always had a few formatting options, but the entry field looks exactly like the Plain Text.

The Rich Text looks and behaves exactly like the Plain text, even when you add and select some content. No formatting options whatsoever.

However, when you save the entries and check what it looks like , the RT field looks different than the others, and indeed, the behaviour is as described.

The Rich Text displays differently than the Plain and Enhanced Rich Text. It does not align texts properly.

Addtionally, when I edited Experiment 2, you see the : behaves strangely:

Strange behaviour with this : in Edit mode. It looks OK in view mode.

Additonally, when I checked the configuration of the Rich Text column from the List side, I noticed that the “Enhanced Rich Text” option was selected. When I pressed “Cancel”, nothing happened, but when I clicked “Save” the columns changed into Enhanced Rich Text.
It is not relevant for this case, but it confirms that there is something strange with this option.

The option appears to be already on, but not really implemented until you click Save.

The solution

You might have guessed: I changed all Rich Text fields to Plain Text, as that is sufficient for their needs and behaves a bit better.

Does anyone know if my beloved Rich Text is going away? As we are moving more towards configuring from the List page rather than from List Settings I am afraid so. I could not find anything about it, but if I have overlooked something, please let me know!

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 Iโ€™d introduceย SharePoint Holmes, SharePointย investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Where do you find news posts saved for later?

We launched our new intranet this week. Although it is vanilla SharePoint (and what a joy NOT to have complicated requirements and unmaintainable customizations) I have had to create some help materials for users, as we have some organization-specific information to share, and the Microsoft support documentation has not always been translated correctly.

One of the help items is “Where to find the news items you have saved for later”.

Saving is easy: click the label. When you see the post on the SharePoint start page, the label is on the card. When you have opened the item, you see the label on the bottom of the post.
Unsaving: click the label again.

The image to look for when you want to save a news post for later

But where can you find them later?

There is only one place where you can view your saved news items only. Most places I found also contain favourited documents and even other types of content. Most confusing!

Let me list the locations:

1. Clicking “Save for later” or “Saved for later”

When you accidentally hit the text next to the label you get a popup with your latest saved or favourited items.

If you click the text next to the label, you will get this popup

When you click “See all saved items” you get a page with all your darlings.

All my six saved items

You see this is a mixed bunch: news items and documents.

2. “My saved items” web part

We have this web part on our main news page, to make it easy for our colleagues to find their saved items. Again, it shows news posts and documents. (More info from Microsoft)

This web part shows news items and documents

When you click “See all” you get that page with all saved items. Mind you, while the overview above appears to be a page in the SharePoint landing site, this is now shown within the site where the web part lives.

All my six items, but now in the same site as where the web part is added

3. “Saved for later” on the SharePoint start page

In the left hand rail of the SharePoint start page, underneath “Following” and “Recent” there is a block displaying your most recent 5 darlings. I would have expected to have an option to “See all” here, but no.

The Saved for later web part on the SharePoint start page.

4. SharePoint mobile app: “News” and “Me”

The only place where you can list just the news posts is the SharePoint mobile app.

  • “News” shows all your news posts, and allows you to filter the saved items.
  • “Me” shows your recent and saved items, and in the Saved items you can again filter for news posts only.
This is the News part; you can filter for “Saved items” on top.
This is the “Me” portion. In the saved items (“Opgeslagen”) you can filter for just news items.

5. The Microsoft/Office365 landing page

Here is where it gets really confusing.
At work I see my opened news posts in the “All” tab of content, and in my Favourites tab when I have saved it for later. In my personal tenant I do not see those. I have been unable to find out why. ๐Ÿคฏ

Saved news items do not appear in Favourites in my own tenant. I made the one shown here a favourite when it appeared on this page.

While we are on this page, let me inform you how to make something appear in your Favourites. On the All tab you will see all items (Lists, news, Forms, recordings, images) that you have recently looked at or edited. Hover over an item you would like to add to Favorites, click … and then “Add to favourites”.
(Remember you could briefly do this from SharePoint? That has been gone for some time)

How to make a content item a favourite so it is shown in the Favourites tab

It is a star icon, just like when you want to “follow” a site. ๐Ÿคฏ
The Forms that you “pin” on the Forms landing page will also appear on the Favourites tab. ๐Ÿคฏ

You can also make a List a Favourite from this page. But if you go to the List itself, and click the star near the list name, it will appear as a Favourite on the Lists landing page, but not on the Microsoft/Office365 landing page. ๐Ÿคฏ

Well, this homepage functionality appears to be a bit messy. Does anyone know if this is being worked on?

In any case, did I miss a location where you can see your saved news posts? Let me know in the comments!

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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! โ€“ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
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 โ€“ 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!

The new Microsoft365/Office365 Homepage

Over time I have captured the various appearances of the Office365/Microsoft365 Homepage. As you may know, I quite like this page as the page where I start work. 

That page is updated quite frequently, and I keep all versions in this post. Please scroll down and get some nostalgic feelings. ๐Ÿ™‚

Update October 2022 ๐Ÿ‘‡

As announced during Microsoft Ignite 2022, Office365 will be renamed Microsoft365. We knew this for more than a year, but it was unclear how exactly and when this would happen. Now we know:
“In the coming months, Office.com, the Office mobile app, and the Office app for Windows will become the Microsoft 365 app, with a new icon, a new look, and even more features.” This will start from November 2022. Microsoft FAQ.

The announcement is on the homepage now. And compared to the December 2021 update, I now have recommended posts, and colourful ones as well, so the whole page looks much better than in December 2021!

All good and dandy, but you will probably have to update all your help materials and other stuff with texts and the new icon. ๐Ÿ˜’

Update December 2021 ๐Ÿ‘‡

Rather shortly after the last update, here’s a new one:

Microsoft365 landing page December 2021

The most obvious immediate change is that the “recommended” items on top of the page have gone. Although this was generally not extremely useful, it did provide some colour to the page, so the page is now rather bland. The icons for Lists are not displayed yet, so the page may get more colour when that has been fixed. Any upcoming meetings, and any actions you can do, will be displayed as “Recommended actions”, so that’s a plus. But if you do not have any of those, this part does not show.

Recommended actions, if you have any

The next thing I noticed is that the list of apps on the left hand side has been reduced. You can now no longer go to SharePoint from this page, but need to click on the waffle top left and then on the SharePoint icon. For someone who uses SharePoint quite often, this is not a plus.

I finally have Visio, but that is not a consequence of the redesign. ๐Ÿ™‚

You can open some more apps, but not all. But hello, Visio!

That extra page, where your apps were displayed in alphabetical order, including some nice tips, is gone. You now get all apps in the left hand side, even when you click “All apps”.

I like the new way to create content. Click on “Create” in the sidebar and you can create all types of content. In addition to the items in the screenshot you can also create a Yammer post and a Whiteboard. You can also find templates here.

Creating new content

Clicking “My content in the side bar provides you with an overview similar to that on the landing page, but with additional filters on this page.

My content

The main part of the page shows a new design for all your content. The different filters are now buttons, rather than just text, making it more obvious that you can click on them, and when you do, the colour changes so you know very well where you are.

The filter bar

Clicking on “+” gives you more filter options, such as file type, location and persons. You can even add that semi-permanently to your landing page!

More filter options when you click +

When you click the … next to a file name, it turns out that the menu is more condensed (which means more clicks in some cases). New options: add the file to ToDo or Calendar and convert it to PDF.
(I seem to remember that another PDF-creation option will be discontinued)

Gone is the option to download. The file location (very useful for my colleagues) has now moved to “Open”. The location of the file is no longer displayed underneath the file, but you can still see it when you click “All” on the bottom of the page, or when you go to “My Content”.

A more condensed file menu

My opinion: Mixed.
๐Ÿ‘ I like the fact that you can easily create all types of content on one page, but all these options will confuse our users as they do not always know when to use what. I also like the filter options.

๐Ÿ‘Ž I want to be able to go to SharePoint quickly! And my, does this page look boring right now!

Update February 2021 ๐Ÿ‘‡

A few quite subtle changes this time, mainly dealing with filtering and the tabs names and functionalities.

The page looks like this; you will notice that, besides the regular file types Lists are shown, as are Forms, videos in Stream and SharePoint News items. (See bottom). It also shows attachments from emails!

The changes in the new version are in the red-lined area: Tabs and filters.
You can see a number of file types that I would not consider “Documents”.

The first change is the option to filter, both on a word (top right above the list of files) and the file type (top left)

You can filter for file type to the left, and on a word on the right.

The second change is the name and contents of the tabs. The first tab is now called “All” and shows all kinds of items, the second one contains the “Recent” files you looked at or worked on, the next one is “Shared” (no change) and the “Discover” tab has gone and has been replaced by “Favourites” which used to be called “Pinned”.
On the one hand, I prefer the word Favourite but in many other places (Teams channels, chats) you can still “pin” things so I hope we will end up with one and the same word.
I personally will not grieve over losing the Discover tab, but this was the only Delve-mimicking functionality available for F3-licensed users.

The menu that you see when clicking the ellipses next to a file, will also show the word “Favourite” with the little star that we know from “Following a Site”. Hmm, this might get confusing. ๐Ÿฅด

You can now “Add to favourites” instead of pinning – it works the same. The star appears already when you hover over the file name.

All in all, a decent update. I like the word Favourites, I appreciate the filtering options and I am happy that that confusing Discover tab has gone.
I am less happy with Lists and all the other stuff on my “All” tab – it looks rather messy.
I hope we will get consistency in the use of “Favourites/Bookmarks/Pinned/Followed” and the symbols that go with it. ๐Ÿฅด

Update August 2020 ๐Ÿ‘‡

The new design has finally arrived at my personal tenant, but it is still a bit wobbly (on and off) in my work tenant. In case you think you need to communicate this: a 3-part explanatory popup is part of the rollout, so it should not be too much of a surprise to users.

  • All icons have moved to a left-hand side rail and are much smaller.
  • There’s a new Home icon (not sure what that does) and the + icon to create a new document looks a bit different too.
  • There’s also a new “All Apps icon”. This “floats” on the bottom of the rail, so it is always visible. Screenshots are below as the new WordPress Block Editor does not allow me to add images in a list block. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
  • The app names are no longer displayed, unless you hover over with your mouse, which is OK for me but may be rather daunting for new users.
  • As I have rather a lot of apps it means I need to scroll down to open some, especially when using my laptop screen.
  • Apparently the focus is on documents even more, but I do not see that as a major benefit. However, I have always liked the “Recent” and “Pinned” tabs, and so do my colleagues as they tend to lose track of their documents.
  • Still hoping for badges with the icons telling me if and how many unread messages I have in Outlook, Teams and Yammer – I prefer that over an endless slice-and-dice of documents. 
NewHomepageaug2020

The new Home icon:

Home and Create document icons

The new “All Apps” icon:

It’s the bottom one

Update July 2019 ๐Ÿ‘‡

The top part of the page has changed again, and now has more visibility of the + option to create a new document. I personally am not a fan of starting a document from the Office365 landing page. Navigating to the intended OneDrive or SharePoint location makes more sense to me, and is something I teach my users as they frequently complain of “losing documents”. The “Explore all your apps” link under the apps has been replaced by “All apps” next to the apps which makes sense.
And…the “Good day” message is back! Which I know is calculated and nothing personal, but I like it. 

Office365Home-July2019
Start a new document and the link to all apps are the changes for July 2019. 

The bottom part of the page has not changed.

Update February 2019 ๐Ÿ‘‡

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 left some months ago. It breaks up the nice colour gradient of my pencils though ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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 ๐Ÿ‘‡

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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.

Original post from June 2016 ๐Ÿ‘‡

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 the top of the page:NewOffice365Homepage-NewMine

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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  2. The welcome message is nice, although I know it is calculated from my time zone 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!