Can the new SharePoint Communications or Hub sites be my out-of-the-box Intranet?
In the last few months Microsoft has rolled out its new Communications Site, and at Ignite 2017 announced Hub. We compliment the Microsoft SharePoint team on the work they have done and how great the sites look; it's a vast improvement over the old user interface.
The only issue is that many users now think that they can put in a Communications Site and like magic have an Intranet. The question remains:
Are these new sites really my free out-of-the-box Intranet for my organization? The answer is perhaps yes, but probably no.
If your Intranet requires a simple news and activities page that looks good and is easy to create, then yes. If your requirements go beyond this then get ready to roll up your sleeves and put in some time and skills.
With the base Communications Site, you will find that the content will soon become stale, and you have no options for content targeting or personalization. Additionally, there are no built-in processes for approval or other content related activities. All news consists of wiki pages that require the content manager to know SharePoint who must dive into Site Contents and the Site Pages Library to manage news items.
Events consist of SharePoint calendars not related to Office 365 calendars. Communication Sites can only be created in their own site collection, so you cannot mix them with your existing SharePoint team sites. This means that you will have to manage users, permissions, apps and much more for each site collection, which can become cumbersome and complex. There is actually a long list of shortcomings with the design that can eliminate it as the magic out-of-the-box Intranet solution for many organizations. See more in the Clearbox Consulting blog.
For those of you using SharePoint Online on Office 365, you may have heard about the new SharePoint Modern User Interface (SPfx) that Microsoft is slowly rolling out.
Many of us in the SharePoint community are really excited to see the SharePoint look and feel brought up to date with responsive design, and a fresh new experience which aligns better with the rest of Office 365 services. It really is laying the groundwork for a Digital Workplace and an eventual seamless experience between SharePoint and other services like Groups, Planner, OneDrive and more.
However, when is the right time to move to this new Modern UI? When should you open it up to your user community in a production environment? The answer to that is not for a while, perhaps 12 – 18 months. Why? Well because the Modern UI is only about two-thirds of the way there.
If you have existing SharePoint sites, you will find that the Modern UI will only support some of your list types. It only supports custom lists and not Tasks, Calendars, Contacts etc. Those will still display in the Classic UI. So your end-users will see two different UIs depending on the type of list they are in. This will even change where and how navigation is shown. Now that will really mess them up! Feel free to peruse this article which dives deeper into Modern Vs. Classic Interfaces.