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Understanding the modern SharePoint experience

Posted October 24, 2018

Had gripes with the classic SharePoint experience? You’re not alone. Microsoft have completely overhauled SharePoint Online and it’s now a user-friendly design that ticks all the boxes. Check it out!

By Chad Gowrea, Director - Solutions and Strategy

Had gripes with the classic SharePoint experience? You’re not alone. The good news is that Microsoft have completely overhauled SharePoint Online and it’s now a user-friendly design that ticks all the boxes: useable, attractive, familiar, and doesn’t make you want to tear your hair out.

Even though the modern experience has been around for about 2 years, people are not always aware of its existence. This is a shame as it provides a distinctly different experience from the classic version of SharePoint.

If you already have the O365 suite in your business, then utilising the power of the modern SharePoint experience is a definite must-try. Conversely, if you already work with SharePoint in your business, you may consider upgrading your systems to take advantage of the benefits of working with a post-2016 SharePoint.

Do be aware that there are many functionalities in the classic experience that are not available yet – and some that may never be supported in the modern SharePoint experience. Check out this list from Microsoft if you’re wondering about certain features you’re used to using and wanting to continue to use.

What’s changed in SharePoint?

There were plenty of issues businesses used to run into with older versions of Microsoft SharePoint. The interface to legacy SharePoint was clunky and unsophisticated, unresponsive and hard to use on mobile, and complicated to perform non-standard tasks that users wanted to do, such as adding files as links rather than a copy of the file itself.

The main change is the user experience itself as the modern experience is truly user-friendly. This includes the Document Library modern experience, which allows for more customisation, easier switching of views, better filtering/sorting of documents, as well as the native SharePoint App for iOS and Android.

The new UI

There are new features aplenty – it’s not just the UI of SharePoint that’s changed – although that will be the first thing that you notice. The UI has been designed intuitively, which means it’s cleaner, quicker to find what you need and easier to use overall than the SharePoint of old. This leads to less training time for users and higher adoption levels.

As for the UI experience on mobile, that’s the game changer. SharePoint’s app is sleek, usable, and much more responsive, so perfect for on the go on mobile or tablet. The modern UI was designed specifically with mobility in mind. This means business users can access SharePoint from anywhere – users aren’t tethered to their desk or need to break out the laptop to find things easily.

Document libraries get an overhaul

Document libraries, using the new version of SharePoint, are much easier to use, with better navigation, dynamic filtering, and views. If you already use OneDrive, then you’ll notice some similarities in how they operate – as this was developed in collaboration with the OneDrive team.

Team Sites

A new favourite among users is the Team Sites – a feature introduced in this update of SharePoint. By creating an Office 365 Group you then have the option to automatically create a Team with this group, and create a new Team Site for SharePoint, adding administrators and such.

Web parts

Web parts are the building blocks of SharePoint pages. When authoring SharePoint pages, you can add parts to build a new page. This makes it as easy and intuitive to use as the newer drag and drop website builders such as Wix. If the elements provided by Microsoft aren’t enough for your needs, this is where custom web parts are required. In each block, you can build your own customized content, appearance and behaviour to the part. This will require some coding using the SharePoint Framework (SPFx).

Already happy with SharePoint and just want a more modern experience?

The SharePoint classic experience doesn’t as yet have a retirement date from Microsoft, although it’s presumed it will be in the works. While migration can be a big pain, it pays to update to the latest versions of products to ensure ongoing support in the future.

If you’re just looking to modernise your SharePoint classic experience, but rely on classic features that are not supported in the Modern UI, there is another option that you could consider implementing in your business. Live Tiles is a product that can help in making your SharePoint classic systems more modern and aesthetically pleasing. It enhances usability, performance, linking, and data analysis while leveraging the features of a classic SharePoint platform. It helps to overcome the issues your business may be facing with using an older software product.

Need help making the switch to modern SharePoint or want to try out Live Tiles? At Bremmar we have helped organisations just like yours update their business portals to the new version of SharePoint, or configured older implementations to become more modern. Ask us for more info about how to update your system.

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By Chad Gowrea, Director - Solutions and Strategy

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