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Utilizing Site Design to Drive Value for Your Business

Utilizing Site Design to Drive Value for Your Business

by: Eric Overfield 09 Oct 2019

A primary role for SharePoint administrators includes the responsibility to provide tools their organization’s members need to do their job, both effectively and efficiently. Creating new modern SharePoint sites, including modern team sites and communication sites, is a routine task that often requires prescribed and required configuration settings and setup to ensure each new site meets specific organizational requirements.

SharePoint Online introduces a new site templating feature called Site Designs that empower an organization to deliver a cohesive SharePoint strategy that offers site owners the ability to quickly apply consistency across many SharePoint sites.

SharePoint Site Designs


Site Designs provide repeatable templating functionality for modern SharePoint sites. Site Designs allow sites to conform to a set of requirements, expectations, and actions when a given site design is applied to a given site. What’s more, site designs may be applied to both new sites as well as applied or reapplied to existing sites.


Winning Strategies for SharePoint Site Designs


Ensure SharePoint Site Consistency

SharePoint’s flexibility empowers your site owners while Site Design help to ensure that new sites are created and pre-configured in a consistent manner. By providing your team with these design templates, an organization can be sure new sites follow governance and compliance guidelines as site owners are given the tools they need to be consistent in their day-to-day work. Site Designs allow your team to worry less about general SharePoint configuration, providing more time for each person to do more.


Maintain Control of Site Creation Processes

Site designs allow you to control and tailor each SharePoint site to your organization’s specific needs in a repeatable, reliable process. You can create templated site experiences for specific use cases, with pre-configured components, structure, sharing, configuration, and more.

For example, one of our education clients’ HR team required templated team sites that were specific to job openings, utilizing unique structural requirements, different from other sites. Site designs allowed us to create templates that were specific to their business use cases and scenarios.

Examples of actions that Site Designs may include setting the theme, configuring lists and document libraries, predefining metadata, setting common security scenarios, and more. Furthermore, if a site design cannot accomplish a specific required configuration or provisioning requirement, you can also extend the templating processes through a supported external hook mechanism such as Microsoft Flow.


Use Your Time Wisely

We all know time is money. Manually configuring a new SharePoint site to match a required model can take valuable time, and allows for the introduction of mistakes or misconfigurations, requiring even more time in lost productively. If a site is not set up correctly it can result in any number of issues from the wrong statement of work being sent to a client, to a co-worker spending hours on the wrong version of a proposal.

Site designs can be applied as well as reapplied to existing sites. Further, multiple site designs may be applied to the same site. For example, your site owners can save time by adding new branding or a new document library once and then reapplying it to all current sites.

Site designs can also free up IT time by empowering site owners themselves to get more done, and because it is such a user-friendly tool, it decreases training costs as well.


Empowers Site Owners to Do More

Site Designs may be configured to provide common site owner requests be available via the browser at the click of a button, without additional support from IT. IT is often tasked to enable or disable external sharing or enabling SharePoint Framework extensions. Site Designs may be built to make these type of IT requests a relic of the past, enabling secured, approved, site owner self-service. Power users can then use these site designs without the need of additional resources, removing roadblocks, and saving everyone’s time.

Site Designs may also be targeted to specific people or groups of people, ensuring that only the properly trained site owners may apply a given site design. Your organization can also tag specific site designs as default site designs. These default site design will then be automatically applied every time a modern team site or communication site is created.


Prepare Your Organization for the Future 

Microsoft has made it clear that Site Designs are the supported method for creating templated SharePoint experiences when consistent, repeatable approaches are required to target your business scenarios. In other words, Site Designs are the way of the future.


You should follow Microsoft’s best practices whenever possible to ensure the longevity of your solution, and your ability to leverage all of the new features and upgrades Microsoft is investing in delivering to the marketplace.

Here at PixelMill, we have had huge successes when utilizing Site Designs. Are you ready to empower your team, free up IT’s valuable time, and provide tailored solutions your team will use and love?


Eric Overfield is a Microsoft Regional Director, A Microsoft MVP, and President and Cofounder of PixelMill, a digital workspace leader in enterprise UI/UX design and development specializing in building customized communication & collaboration portals and sites utilizing Office 365, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and Azure.

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