A Future in Gaming: I’m headed for Blizzard Entertainment!

It’s appropriate that early in my career in technology started with morale events based on network gaming found on a hidden share versions of Doom, then later it was Command and Conquer and WarCraft, StarCraft, Duke Nukem and Diablo.  Great memories, tons of fun and strengthened friendships.  We couldn’t wait for those moments when it got quiet with no one left around and the machines became available for something even more powerful than your average productivity tools.  Even early in my marriage we’d come to play networked games on battle.net.  I’ve always enjoyed gaming, in balance of course.  I gave my notice at Konica Minolta last week and start my new position at Activision | Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine on January 8 as Senior IT Operations Manager responsible for the End User Computing and Windows Core teams.

Activision Blizzard is the world’s most successful standalone interactive entertainment company. Our portfolio includes some of the biggest franchises in all of entertainment, developed by the incredibly talented teams at Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, King Digital Entertainment, Activision Blizzard Studios, Major League Gaming, and our independent studios, including Toys for Bob, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer Games and Treyarch.” – Blizzard Careers page

For Christmas I got an Oculus and a gamer VR laptop that will support my new career.  Hope to connect with you on Battle.Net as I build new characters on WOW and Overwatch and whatever else may come along…  More details to come!  My blog will broaden.  You may have noticed I rebranded my blog and you’ll see a broader range of topics from VR to Games and tech gadgets along side the Office 365 and SharePoint content.  You’ll see further improvement in my blog navigation to support those changes.

FAQ

Will you still be working with SharePoint / Office 365?

Yes, I will be managing the team responsible for SharePoint and Office 365 including the collaboration platforms and productivity tools as well as Azure AD, Identity, Exchange, DNS, Patching, SCCM, and Apple and Macs.  I will be driving the strategy for SharePoint, Office 365, Collaboration and Intranet at Blizzard.  Big responsibility I know.

I do believe jobs will expand in Office 365 and contract in on premises SharePoint especially for developers. I posted 8 predictions for SharePoint in 2018.

Will you still be traveling and speaking at conferences?

Yes, in fact I will be speaking at a number of SharePoint Saturday’s, aOS, and Community Meetups and Industry events  in the first quarter of 2018.  This may change slightly, but at this point my management is supportive of my community work and has offices around the globe they’ve already said they’d like me to visit in Ireland, France, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea and they support me in my endeavors.  I’m already booked for my Madagascar trip in February and Ethiopia/Uganda/Kenya Central Africa Family trip this summer.  Hope you can come to #Blizzcon I’m very excited to add that event to my line up in 2018.

How many countries do you have left?

Not sure what this has to do with my new job, but about 30 countries (of ~197) after what’s already been booked.  I’ve been averaging about 10 new countries a year, but what’s left is getting increasingly difficult and more planning involved, so this may vary.  My priority is my family and work, so this should not interfere.

What do video games have to do with the future of collaboration?

It doesn’t have to, but I do see more and more… a convergence in real time and even near realtime for video, audio, chat, feeds, training, screen sharing and definitely the future of interfaces may have more of a convergence with gaming and collaboration and intranets.  We’ve already seen examples of gamification in Intranets.  I expect to see more culture and gaming represented in chat rooms, Intranet interfaces, and video as these experiences converge.  The future of AR/VR bring a lot of new possibilities to the enterprise by 2021 more than 10% of AR/VR will be purchased for corporate use.

How were things at Konica Minolta?

I have had a great relationship with my boss, and I had a fantastic team, whom I will miss dearly.  After about 3 years at KM, I’ve had a great impact on their practice. Together we’ve been able to accomplish a lot, but this is a fantastic opportunity I couldn’t pass up.  You should never burn bridges, and I can safely say this is amicable.

Have more questions? You can ask me in the comments or on twitter at @joeloleson or at the upcoming events such as #SPSUtah or #SPSSD

Intranet SharePoint & Office 365 SPS & aOS Events including a meetup in Madagascar

It’s a busy first quarter, but ample opportunities to hear my speak at a number of global and domestic conferences.  Hope to see you there!

SharePoint Saturday San Diego – More info and registration Over 300 registered.  Don’t miss my TED style talk on the future of Intranet Interfaces.

SharePoint Saturday Utah – More info and Registration This annual event is packed with the top SharePoint and Office 365 speakers in the state and brings in speakers from all over the US including many international speakers.  I will be delivering a TED style talk on AR/VR and Intranets with Noah Sparks as well as a break out session where we’ll drill into the future of communication and collaboration as we look at Office 365 from a 360 view.

AOS Comoros is being organized.  Block out Feb 28. More details to come

Indian Ocean Islands Meetups – Last week of Feb and 1st week of March – Register and we’ll reach out to you with the details…  End of Feb beginning of March we are planning a number of Office 365/SharePoint meetups including Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar, Meyotte and Seychelles.  Even if there’s only one person we’d love to meet up.

Intra.NET Reloaded Boston – April 22-24 Defining the Future of the Digital Workplace.  “North America’s most innovative event on intranet, digital workplace and internal communications.” This will be my first year speaking at the event.  I’ve heard it’s the best industry Intranet event.  I’ll be covering the future of the Intranet…

8 Predictions for SharePoint & Office 365 in 2018

I’ve done predictions every year for the past few and plan to share some of these at upcoming Predictions Tweetjam #CollabTalk on Thursday, December 28th from 8am to 9am Pacific.  You don’t have to register. Just show up.  I’ll be posting as @joeloleson.  It’s a good opportunity to collaborate.  Scroll down to the bottom to see some old predictions.  Use the comments to let me know how you think I did, or how you think I’m right or wrong.  I promise to respond to any comments on this post.

8 Predictions for SharePoint & Office 365 in 2018

  1. People will look to Skip SharePoint 2016 and go to 2019.  It will be much better received than 2016 was, but it will still be somewhat lackluster (never will it be like it was back in the good old days of dedicated SPCs for SharePoint launches). In the first year of SharePoint 2019 release it will surpass 2016 as an install base.  (2016 still hasn’t surpassed 2013.)
  2. Hub sites will become the preferred way of doing Information Architecture in SharePoint and deep portal structures will be flattened as a best practice.  Note there will be many who cry foul and it will cause heated debates.
  3. OneDrive on Demand will become a great drive to Windows 10.  Sync for SharePoint will be carried along as a benefit and client sync for SharePoint will have its greatest adoption since groove.
  4. Modern Team Sites, Modern Lists, and Themes will soon become consistent with the expectation for status quo for SharePoint and a big line will be drawn for OLD SharePoint vs. New SharePoint based on what comes in 2019 and what’s in O365 now.
  5. WSPs are Dead – The community will abhor them and it will be an insult to think of installing them.  As a result even third party solutions will need to rethink how they not only support apps for online but also on prem.
  6. Groups will cause further confusion in 2018, but Teams will become the darling of Microsoft sales for collab as it activates multiple workloads.
  7. Microsoft AI (Simple automation, auto classification and extraction) will start to make its way into SharePoint Online amongst other workloads.
  8. Simple Communication Site based Intranets (and Intranet in a box solutions) + Hub sites will gain favor for Office 365 adopters.  Deep complicated Intranets will fall out of favor in a huge significant industry wide way.Let me share some of my old predictions… from a post in SharePoint Predictions from December of 2015
  • Microsoft will not consider an Office 365 tenant not fully utilized until SharePoint is in real use – Microsoft has been requiring many workloads. Exchange, OneDrive are not enough.
  • Mobile will become more important in SharePoint world – The SharePoint Mobile app is really a nice app, and the SP Team has committed to making it all responsive and mobile. We are already seeing it in SharePoint Online.
  • SharePoint 2016 will launch to simple fanfare – Yeah. It has been the slowest adopted version of SharePoint.
  • SharePoint gets cool again – Jeff Teper has done a great job of taking back the mantle and making it cool these past two years.  The product team has attracted the necessary talent and made it cool.

Ignite 2017 SharePoint Cliff Notes

Cliff Notes from Microsoft Ignite on SharePoint, OneDrive, and Office 365 and SharePoint 2019

  • Microsoft 365 == Office 365 ++
  • Bing for Business – data from both on-premises and cloud resources can be embedded in the same search results list using Microsoft Graph and AI to connect relevant contextual data from Office 365 and Internet based Bing results based searches. There is a preview.  When you search for a file, regardless the file type, you can preview the file directly in the search result without opening or downloading it.
  • Linkedin data coming to profiles in Delve and Graph, more to be announced for developers
  • New Office 365 App Launcher
  • Teams is the new shizz. It is taking front and center as intelligent communications.  It is getting call in support for meetings, better SharePoint integration, better everything integration and development support for much more.
  • New Yammer Vision/Roadmap think of it as the outer ring of communication.
  • Flow deeper SharePoint integration including column list access and support in SharePoint 2019
  • SharePoint 2019 TAP and Preview is open. https://aka.ms/sptap (Code: SPT232).
  • OneDrive announcement – When you share a document with outside users, they will receive one email with the shared document and one email with a one-time passcode. Then they can access, view, or edit the document even if they don’t have an Office 365 account.
  • OneDrive Files On-Demand is also now generally available which allows you to sync OneDrive files to File Explorer and manage your files directly through File Explorer without utilizing any of your device’s storage.
  • Microsoft’s SharePoint Migration Tool was also launched today. This allows users to migrate home directories, file shares, and document libraries to Office 365
  • SharePoint Hub sites were announced. This allows you to organize your intranet bringing associated sites together and create cohesion with shared navigation and look-and-feel.
  • New Security Controls – site classification, conditional access based on location and device
  • OneDrive UI improvements including sharing files from explorer
  • New Templates and Designs – SharePoint Mobile Natively – Communication Sites improvements

Still Using Excel Spreadsheets for Project Management?

BrightWork Collaborative Project Management Framework Overview

By Joel Oleson

Executive Overview

I have the privilege of seeing so many great projects and solutions. BrightWork Collaborative Project Management Framework and software are no exception. I first was introduced by BrightWork by Éamonn McGuinness, who has the vision of making successful project and portfolio management possible and easy for every organization. BrightWork has been providing project management solutions with SharePoint since SharePoint 2001. I learned more about BrightWork through the free downloadable Collaborative Project Management Handbook. Immediately I found some very useful insights including an open process for managing post mortems. I’ve been in some companies who fear failure and met many in those companies who would never willingly admit their mistakes. In one company we had regular post mortems whenever there were outages, but also a moment after every project where we took time to reflect on the project and talked about highlights and low lights. Let me tell you just how different the experience is when you’re on a team where collaborative project management processes are implemented. Everyone has a voice. Failure is not an ultimate risk that plagues someone never to be trusted every again. All members of the team can provide leadership through collaborative mechanisms and have their voices heard. Instead mistakes will happen, and as a result we’ll all learn from those and find growth through making changes and recognizing ways to improve and evolve through processes for collaborating on what went well and not so well. BrightWork provides a safe environment for company and individual growth through a collaborative project management framework with three guiding principles, as well as free templates for SharePoint that make doing project management straightforward, consistent, easy, and possible.

Overview of BrightWork Collaborative Project Management Framework

First let me introduce you to the framework’s “Three Guiding Principles,” 1) Collaborate to Innovate – Projects deliver the innovations groups need to progress and projects are best delivered in a collaborative fashion with the entire team. 2) Lead to Succeed – The most successful projects get real leadership from both the project manager and all of the team members. 3) Evolve to Grow – Successful collaborative project management is not a capability acquired in a day; it evolves and develops in time.

The Three Guiding Principles and Stages of the Collaborative Project Management Framework

Learn Collaborative Project Management

It’s amazing to me just how many companies are simply using Microsoft Excel for managing projects. I understand it is the most common project manage tool on the planet by far. Beyond that it’s amazing to me how unstructured nearly all companies are in their approaches to project and portfolio management. While it’s not always possible to have a clear scope of work and clearly defined roles and responsibilities at the beginning of each project, there are some simple guidelines that can be followed to ensure everyone on the team is on the same page with milestones and the approach. Without an agreed upon approach to project management, chaos ensues as deliverables are not met, timelines continuously slip, and budgets are quickly overrun. That being said, I’ve seen many companies attempt to swing the pendulum to the other side to not only add structure, but add competency to their project managers and exist perpetually in analysis paralyses where speed and agility was the desire. You can’t snap your fingers and everyone is performing project management. It requires an agreed upon approach.

The Collaborative Project Management Handbook outlines the practices, stages, and leadership needed to deliver collaborative projects successfully. Each chapter includes practical exercises and tips to help you get started.

The Framework is built on a foundation of collaboration and leadership with an emphasis on evolution at the speed of the organization.

  • Collaborate to Innovate
  • Lead to Succeed
  • Evolve to Grow

Business Value

  • Organizational alignment across projects and project managers
  • Get started quick on projects and save time over time saved on simple status reports
  • Consistent reporting through rollup of dashboards
  • Customization of templates for flexibility in adding additional tracking for less on lite and more on larger projects
  • Portfolio rollup across department alignment with corporate strategic vision and plan
  • Intuitive Insights and reports can tell at any moment where a project is in progress
  • Visibility and control including transparent point of reference across the organization
  • Start where you are and evolve
  • Take advantage of your Office 365/SharePoint investment for Project Managers
  • Templatized approach to deliver project, portfolio and work management

What people are saying… “BrightWork has given us the opportunity to maximize how efficiently and effectively we manage a vast array of projects across our geographically dispersed organization.”

The current situation across the industries is the demands on teams for producing more with less has increased. In fact, according to a recent Microsoft study, the average employee works on 2x more teams than they did 5 years ago. Essentially our ability to deliver has not gone up, but the need to deliver has. How do you keep track of what you’re getting from these teams, document, excel, maybe a task list? What dates are they due? Keeping this in a spreadsheet? How do you provide status reports? How is this tracked at a team, group, department and/or for organizational reporting? You’re starting to see what happens when hundreds of employees are trying to keep track of all these tasks on their own, in dozens or hundreds of different ways. You can also see how collaboration and transparency are so important in providing the ability to share simple reporting interfaces with technology the organization already owns.

BrightWork has focused on this area of building a framework that is easy to learn, understand, and use as a mechanism. There are templates provided both for free and enhanced reporting that you can get started with today. These SharePoint based templates for collaborative project management will run on Office 365 and all recent versions of SharePoint 2016, 2013, and 2010.

SharePoint Templates for Project and Portfolio Management

I remember a time when templates were the rage in SharePoint. Instead of creating a blank site, you’d get further with a team template that already had a number of lists ready to go. The same with the document center, set with version control, and designed with metadata search in mind. BrightWork takes the SharePoint template model and extends it past the old project template SharePoint delivers, including solving some typical SharePoint problems!

Dashboard Focused Project Templates

BrightWork provides enterprise-ready project management application that leverages your investment in Microsoft SharePoint. There are a set of best-practice templates for project, portfolio and work management that help you to focus on the right things as you learn about the things that are most important in successful projects.

  • Projects and Work Tracker
  • Never lost, easy to use navigation with simple Site Map
  • Metric Tiles preconfigured out of the box and easy to configure
  • Score Card Dashboard
  • The 3-minute Status Report
  • Project Scheduling Dashboard
  • Wizard based Project Creation
  • Project Request Manager
  • Built in Side Bar Help

A few of the key features demonstrated to me include the 3-minute status report, which is designed as a quick report that requires little time to produce and yet powerfully answers the key questions stake holders have in any status call or portfolio review. Think about that. How can it get easier than that? Boom! Answer the 3 key foundational questions and your report lights up. The tile based scorecards make reporting simple and focused on the key metrics in a project and can easily be configured to display what the stakeholders are asking for.

First imagine a lightning fast simple task of bringing in all of the status spreadsheets from each of your project managers to then simply use quick edit in a very similar excel like interface. This quickly gets the data where it can be reported on and tracked. All parties will quickly see the value.

Once the data is aggregated and reported on for each of the projects. The Project Tracker can now do its job of rolling up the data with the simple red yellow green on the most important KPIs “Is it healthy? on time? on budget?” in a simple red yellow green with a simple Gantt view. Seriously powerful.

Many companies struggle to get out of seeing SharePoint beyond a next generation file sharing platform, but these templates do an incredible job tying together the data it gathers from the projects into a robust reporting dashboard. Not only does it keep the project managers honest about their work, but also provides transparency to the stakeholders and allows resources to log their own status and provide milestones.

The range of BrightWork templates enable organizations to start fast with an amount of project management appropriate to the level of project management maturity and project complexity that exists in the organization.

The project reporting built into BrightWork gives senior executives and program managers the visibility and control they need to deliver project success across the organization and ensure happy customers.

The easy customizability of the templates enables organizations to easily evolve organizational project management to their desired level of maturity. Project and portfolio report as complex or as simple as you want to be.

The approach of BrightWork is really in the approach of start simple, and evolve as you gain experience and maturity in the process.

BrightWork Templates Spectrum: Project based Site Templates requirements of time and complexity

Portfolio Management Templates – The BrightWork templates for portfolio management give senior executives high-level visibility into the status and health of multiple projects across the organization, resource allocation and new project requests.

Project Management Templates – Site templates for SharePoint allow project managers to deliver successful projects with simple and collaborative project management templates with streamlined reporting.

Advanced Reporting Dashboards – Project and Portfolio templates provide powerful project and portfolio management reporting dashboards so you have the visibility to keep projects on track. They take the guesswork out of putting together powerful dashboards.

Smart Project Management – In the templates are several enhanced features for Smart Project Management, all designed to make project and portfolio management on SharePoint as easy as possible.

Template Management – You can customize BrightWork templates, just like a SharePoint site and can pull that changes into sites created from that template.

What are their customers saying?

“Deploying BrightWork has exceeded expectations from a consistency and accountability perspective; both the number of project requests and active projects have more than doubled since deployment and we have eliminated approximately 40% of work that was historically being done off to the side.”

– PMO Managers at Ascend Performance Materials

“BrightWork provided us with an economical, scalable solution for managing our project portfolio. We now have better standards for collecting project data and an intuitive tool that makes the work visible and accessible.”

– Senior PMO Director at GroupHealth

“Using the BrightWork templates, we now have a much better understanding of all projects underway, as well as a system to review and manage new project requests. We have greater visibility into what is on track and what is falling behind.”

– Head of SharePoint Team at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics

The list of customers go on, but AmSurg used the BrightWork Collaborative Project Management Framework to standardize their processes with the SharePoint templates.

The key things many customers are doing is looking to standardize project management with templates, leveraging SharePoint to manage processes, organization wide portfolio management, establishing a framework for reporting.

Conclusion

Very happy with what I found from BrightWork. Incredibly helpful team with a simple way to get started. I recommend a project manager struggling on a team read the Collaborative Project Management Handbook. It’s helpful not only for project managers, but also team members that are trying to collaborate. I found it helpful for having a common vernacular to collaborate with the team. The book is free and the tips are perfect for a team that hasn’t adopted a structured project management methodology or framework. Even an agile team needs a tool to share their status, reporting, and project based portfolio rollups. Personally I think there’s a lot of reasons to look at these templates and read the about the framework. Who couldn’t use better collaboration? Who couldn’t use better reporting and transparency. I highly recommend you check out the links for getting started.

Getting Started with Collaborative Project Management Framework

Looking for more? There are a few resources that will help you get started.

Upgrade SharePoint 2016

Top 10 Reasons to Upgrade to SharePoint 2016 Infographic

“The most reliable, scalable, secure and high-performing SharePoint Server release ever”

The Future of SharePoint got everyone’s heads spinning, but I’ve seen tons of new energy in the community. Companies everywhere are looking for ways to help justify upgrade or migration to the new platform that is poised to be the platform that nails it. (At least it may be time to give it another shot, right?) Microsoft calls SharePoint 2016 release “the most reliable, scalable, secure and high-performing SharePoint Server release ever”

Is that enough?  There’s more. I think many businesses want the details in an easy to consume easy to share format that makes it easy for management to make a clear decision on a winning platform designed for the future. Following the Future of SharePoint event, I gathered my list of reasons to upgrade and updated it with a few of the new additional reasons to upgrade and I think we have something that is worth sharing.

You have unlimited permission to share this with infographic with your management, share it on your blog, share it in your social media circles. We want to get the community up on SharePoint 2016 and I think this list of reasons will help!

You can download the Infographic as a sharable PDF document or as a PNG image.

Download, Share and View

branding office 365

5 Ways of Branding Office 365 without Modifying the Master Page

We’ve been schooled on customizing our Office 365 sites too much and I’ve seen it clarified a couple of times recently that you should avoid modifying your Master Page. So what can you do? Here are 5 ways you can build brand and look and feel without modifying the master page.

We’re going to start with position that you shouldn’t modify the master page. I know the recommendation that frustrates many, but over the last 3 years I’ve learned to appreciate this guidance in Office 365. For SharePoint on premises, I take this a very different way for Intranets, Portals, and CMS. There are a lot of resources for developers and designers at the Office 365 Patterns and Practices site on Github.com

“Use SharePoint as an out-of-box application whenever possible – We designed the new SharePoint UI to be clean, simple and fast and work great out-of-box. We encourage you not to modify it which could add complexity, performance and upgradeability and to focus your energy on working with users and groups to understand how to use SharePoint to improve productivity and collaboration and identifying and promoting best practices in your organization.”
Read more at https://blogs.office.com/2012/07/17/the-new-sharepoint/#cBPzRx44R8OIWQCi.99

Starting from 1 easiest to 5 hardest (requires dev skills)

1) Office 365 (Personal and Tenant Wide) Themes – You should start here.

Office 365 themes

Believe me when I say that the themes are a good attempt, but don’t go far enough? You can see here we are on the new Office 365 compliance center part of https://protection.office.com. Despite the fact I’ve chosen nice robot theme, the blue left nav is persistent despite the choice, and the green banner doesn’t seem to want to fit either theme. This page should be excused since it’s admin UI, but I have seen big UI/UX inconsistencies simply navigating from mail (responsive collapsible frame like mobile messaging) to SharePoint (pinch and zoom or limited mobile UI) to Delve (responsive and card based). There are a few battles for consistency. The announcement of the updated document libraries brings consistency across documents from OneDrive for Business to SharePoint 2016 to Office 365 document libraries. This is a good start.

That being said I do recommend investing in corporate Office 365 themes. This will nearly guarantee a branded experience. For some reason I still inconsistently see my custom theme being applied, but am anxious for Microsoft to address bugs preventing my corporate experience from flowing across my apps and add-ins.

Customize the Office 365 theme for your organization

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Customize-the-Office-365-theme-for-your-organization-8275da91-7a48-4591-94ab-3123a3f79530?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

After you’ve created your theme

  • Custom logo optionally clickable: Select the image and upload your own JPG, PNG, or GIF with a resolution of 200 x 50 pixels, no larger than 10 KB. This appears in the top navigation bar on every page.
  • Top Nav Background image: Your own JPG, PNG, or GIF, no larger than 15 KB. The background image appears in the top navigation bar on every page.
  • Prevent users from overriding theme: Option to enforce theming at the user level so that everyone in the organization sees the theme you create. The exception to this is a high contrast theme used for accessibility purposes.
  • Accent color: Select a color to use for the app launcher icon, mouse over color, and other accents.
  • Nav bar background color: Select a color to use for the background of the navigation bar. Appears at the top on every page.
  • Text and icons: Color to use for the text and icons in the top navigation bar.
  • App menu icon: Color to use for the app launcher icon

You’ll see your new theme on the Office 365 admin center right away and after a short delay, you’ll see it throughout Office 365 including Outlook and SharePoint pages. You can remove your custom icon or custom colors at any time. Just return to the theme page and choose Remove custom theming or Remove custom colors.

IMPORTANT: In addition to customizing your theme, you can add custom tiles to the My Apps page and then add them to the app launcher or add them to the navigation bar.

Office 365 Branding goes beyond SharePoint

When considering any a custom UI for SharePoint, always consider other services such as One Drive, User Profiles, and Delve. Any CSS, JS, or master-page customization applied to SharePoint as these will not automatically propagate across these other workloads. The only shared tool at this point is the top suite bar. Fortunately, this for the most part is customized by using Office 365 themes. Themes are limited, but this is where you should start. Outlook does have some personal theming, but shouldn’t need much branding anyway. For email you could use Outlook.com add-ins, and recommend company signatures for consistency.

2) Office 365 site options: SharePoint Site Look and Feel branding “Change the Look”

Another good place to start with changing the look of your site while clearly staying way within boundaries is with the Look and Feel section of site settings.

Add a site title, pick a logo, add simple base colors. I would avoid doing too much here or your site will look like it came from FrontPage 98. The out of the box theming engine of composed looks are actually quite ugly in my opinion, but the ability to customize these is in the SharePoint UI and very easy to do. Site themes and composed looks are well covered on the web. The “Change the look option” site theme has skins and additional colors. Changing the navigation is simple and this also is benign and expected. If you want to explore more of what’s available right in the SharePoint UI visit Ben’s Sharegate blog on using the Color palate tool.


3) Provisioning template in PnP Partner Pack for responsive UI for Office 365 SharePoint Online

Alternative CSS is much more lightweight, but still will require testing and maintenance. Join the Office Dev PnP community where you can share code and best practices. First, use alternative CSS instead of adding references to files on your master pages. You can test in our browser by changing the browser size, but ultimately need to test. A good practice is having a couple of tenants… one in early adopter with a handful of test users and the other in the normal adoption rate.

4) Office UI Fabric

Office UI Fabric is a responsive, mobile-first, front-end framework for developers, designed to make it simple to quickly create web experiences using the Office Design Language. The framework is used internally on products within Office 365—such as our suite branding, OneDrive.com, Outlook.com, Delve and the Video Portal. With Office UI Fabric you can apply simple CSS styles to make your web applications look and feel like the rest of Office. The styling takes into account typography, color, icons, animations, responsive grid layouts and localization.

Read more at https://blogs.office.com/2015/08/31/introducing-office-ui-fabric-your-key-to-designing-add-ins-for-office/#C2pQd8rUc2KRhPSp.99

GitHub Office UI Fabric

5) Use JavaScript Injection to embed custom scripts and/or third-party libraries into your sites

“You can use the Office 365 JavaScript UI controls to add an Office 365-style navigation bar to your app and also let users access data about people in Azure Active Directory (AAD). These JavaScript UI controls do not require server-side code, and can be integrated into a single-page application (SPA) with just a few lines of code.”

The Office 365 JavaScript UI controls are supported by the following web browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 10+
  • Chrome 43+
  • Firefox 39+

    Consider r
    emote provisioning pattern for ‘deploying’ components to your SharePoint sites (fields, content types, lists, pages or files)

Any Exceptions?

Did I mention changing the master page? In on premises SharePoint that’s been the practice, for Office 365 as a best practice and for long term supportability… No you should avoid it. It will break inheritance and force you to maintain it through updates. Still feel like you need to do it? There are exceptions, but with Javascript injection there are more flexible ways of changing what you need to.

Should you never ever customize the master page? I do think there are exceptions. Those that are building a CMS, publishing based Intranet are a good example of that. You can control the total look and feel of a site with the master page and publishing features.

Is that enough? Just because Microsoft says don’t customize or don’t really change the master page, won’t stop you from doing it if you want to. So, if you are making master page changes, it’s up to you to stay up to date with the ongoing product updates applied to SharePoint Online. Luckily, you can preview new changes within your tenant by going to the SharePoint Online admin center and enabling preview features. In addition you can create a dev tenant and put it on the early adopter to opt into quicker updates. This is great for a dev or test environment to first experience what may happen first so you can plan to deal with it. You can have as many site collections on either tenant to support QA and UAT. The preview features is also nice so you can slowly ease into the changes and be notified in the UI of changes and flip back if needed.

What about my sites or delve profiles? There are some options. Sonja covers the history and options of Office 365 branding of my sites.

Personally I expect the Delve background photo to be customizable in the near future. I hope to see more company branding options out of the box here as well.

Have other resources and Ideas?  Share them in the comments!

UPDATE: The new Modern Team sites and Communication sites in Office 365 are now responsive by default and the new Hub Sites have been announced to include Themes and look and feel that are inherited across the child based sites associated. This means design will be more fluid and easy to do in the future.  In addition SharePoint 2019 appears set to include much of this modern design work in Office 365.  More info to come!!