I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown users a demo using Microsoft’s demo sites and the client has said, “Yes — that’s what I want. Just make it look like Contoso’s intranet.” It happens all the time, and is a testament to the value of a well-branded site.
It’s easier than ever to build pages that look like this via the modern site template with these lovely “News” components out of the box. I was thrilled recently (yes, my threshold for “thrilled” really has dropped as I age) to see the News feature show up in my “First Release” tenant when I created a new Office 365 Group. It looks like this out of the box:
When I saw it, I felt like this:
So, wanting to take all of this new capability out for a spin myself, I created a new site in my demo environment, used the generic team site template, and waited for the magic to happen. I got this:
Not quite the magic I was looking for.
I began to think, to poke around, and to ask questions of people far smarter about SharePoint than I (credited below), and I learned the following interesting things:
- The new sites that are provisioned via creation of Office 365 groups don’t show up in any site collection that you can see/administer via the Office 365 Admin console. Each group creates its own site collection, and these site collections are hidden and accessible only via tools like PowerShell. This is useful to know if you are wanting to use the UI to update the site collection — not possible today.
- The modern site page that you get with a Groups-spawned site clearly doesn’t (yet) provision by default upon creation of a generic team site via SharePoint, but you can get it if you follow these instructions:
- Create a new generic team site (DemoSubsite3, above)
- Go to Site Contents–>Site Pages–>New–>Site Page
- Rename the existing home page home-old
- Rename your newly created home page
- Voila! You get a page with the components you can add via this menu:
To make your page look like this:
That’s more like it. So, now off to work with these news and other components of the modern team site page…
Caveat 1: The news feature is still rendered differently — the News Headlines and News List components are rendered separately (and vertically), rather than mashed up in the prettier OOTB Groups Web Part.
Caveat 2: This feels to me like a very transient solution. Modern Team Sites are still in preview, modern publishing sites not yet in preview, etc. Expect lots of changes/improvements here quickly, as we’re getting used to…