By Mark Kashman as written on blogs.office.com
During last month’s SharePoint Virtual Summit, we unveiled SharePoint communication sites—beautiful, dynamic sites that let you reach a broad internal audience, and that look great on the web, in the SharePoint mobile app, on PC and on Mac. Today, we’re excited to announce that communication sites are now rolling out to Office 365 First Release customers, followed by full worldwide rollout to Office 365 customers in the coming months.
Create a beautiful communication site in seconds
Communication sites are perfect for internal cross-company campaigns, weekly and monthly reports or status updates, product launches, events and more. To help you jumpstart getting your message out fast, communication sites provide configurable templates for the sites and pages within. When you click Create site from the SharePoint home in Office 365, you have a choice of three initial site designs:
Topic—Select the Topic design when you have a lot of information to share, such as news, events and other content.
Showcase—Use the Showcase design to feature a product, team or event using photos or images.
Blank—Start with a blank site and make your design come to life quickly and easily.
Communication site designs (from left to right): Topic, Showcase and Blank.
And it is easy to tell your story. Once your new site is created, simply drag-and-drop to reorganize web parts on the page to bring your use cases and scenarios to life. News and pages allow for multi-column layouts to represent your message in a meaningful, intuitive fashion.
Learn how to create a communication site in Office 365, add a page and work with column layouts.
Share your plans and updates in engaging, interactive ways
Communication sites allow people to create and share recurring updates beyond email. When you create a page on a communication site, you can embed documents and video, and dynamically pull in real-time data from across Office 365, including documents from SharePoint, Power BI reports, Microsoft Stream videos and Yammer discussions. The resulting page is a rich and dynamic communication. And the page persists on the site, so people can refer to it easily, even as the membership of your team changes, so new members can more easily get up to speed.
The new capabilities for the rich section layouts and new web parts can be utilized on SharePoint team sites as well.
Consume, create and connect from your mobile device via the SharePoint apps
It’s easy to access, engage with and create content for communication sites from any device. The full site, pages, news, navigation, search and more are natively viewable, functional and engaging. Read a page, create a news article, engage in a Yammer conversation—all in the context of the site—from within the SharePoint mobile app experience.
You can download the SharePoint mobiles apps for iOS and Android today, and the new features will be available in the coming weeks. Learn more about the SharePoint mobile app for iOS, SharePoint mobile app for Android and SharePoint app for Windows 10 Mobile.
Communication sites help further refine and enhance your message
Beyond what we shared during the SharePoint Virtual Summit, communication sites have additional capabilities to further refine and enhance your message.
Make your home page and sub-pages look great
Full-width layouts—The Hero and Image web parts can be placed in a section layout that spans the page from left to right, giving you ways to emphasize your most essential information.
Enhanced title region with custom header image—Visually represent your home page, news and subpages with a compelling header graphic and title. You control what portion of the image is the most important, so it looks great, and as intended, across web and mobile experiences.
Continue the discussion in context to ensure reach, retention and engagement
Comments on pages—Each news article and page can have its own set of comments. It is possible to use the Yammer web part for broad discussion scenarios as well as targeted responses to engage your viewers on the sole message and content on the page—all keeping within the context of the page.
Share news via email—When you share news via email from a communication site, it’s not just a blue link; it’s a visual, informative preview that adds context to both the email and the news article itself. Within the email, the recipient(s) will see a thumbnail, title, description and an optional message from the sender.
Dynamically pull in and display data, documents and information via web part improvements
Power BI and Microsoft Stream—Bring in interactive reports using the Power BI web part, and embed single videos or full channels from Microsoft Stream—the single destination within Office 365 for your cross-company video management. Both Power BI and Microsoft Stream are now generally available.
GIF support—When you add an Image web part into a news article or page, you can now include animated GIFs in your layout.
New “See all” pages—When there is more content than can be shown within the first view the Highlighted content and Site activity web parts, you can click See all to go to a full-page experience to see all the content and activity.
Updated News web part—Showcase your news using multiple layouts to highlight what’s important with greater flexibility. You can use the default Top story layout, view news as a list or side-by-side.
Learn more about using web parts on pages and news, which highlights all web parts available in SharePoint Online.
Mark your calendars
Join us for one or more of our events in the coming days and weeks to share and explore the value of communication sites.
SharePoint communication sites AMA—On Wednesday, June 28, 2017 from 9–10 a.m. PDT, bring your questions and feedback to the SharePoint communication sites AMA within this dedicated SharePoint community space of the Microsoft Tech Community for SharePoint. We’re inviting our deepest business and technical subject matter experts for an active, informative hour—driven by YOU!
Jeff Teper takes over @SharePoint—On Tuesday, July 10, 2017 from 9:30–10:30 a.m. PDT, Jeff Teper, corporate vice president for SharePoint, OneDrive and Office, will take over the @SharePoint Twitter handle. He’ll tackle your questions and feedback both with written responses and video snippets as only he can—no tweet left behind!
LIVE customer + MVPs panel webinar—On Wednesday, July 13, 2017 at 8 a.m. PDT, join in to hear how one of our customers, Shire, successfully planned and implemented their new digital workspace—inclusive of communication sites. You will hear both from Shire employees and Office 365 MVPs. Register today.
On-demand webcast—On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, Farren Roper and I present the “SharePoint: Inform and engage your employees” business webcast. Be the first to be notified when it’s available: sign up today. And in advance, read the new, related eBook, “4 secrets to a connected workplace.”