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SharePoint Web Content Management and Mobile

Intergen has been using the web content management capability of SharePoint to build attractive and highly functional intranets, extranets and public-facing websites since it was introduced in 2007. While SharePoint 2010 provided great functionality improvements for building highly branded and customised websites, the capabilities in 2013 have raised the bar even further and positioned SharePoint well and truly among the leaders in the web content management space.

Office 365

 

SharePoint 2013 contains significant enhancements to enable organisations to leverage the web content management capability and create engaging websites that are easily updated and maintained. This could include the display of product catalogues or easily show information about advertising campaigns and promotions. Below are five key areas where SharePoint 2013 has added significant new WCM capabilities:

  1. Engaging Experiences: Visual appeal is a must for any public-facing website and SharePoint 2013 makes it easy to implement custom branding, including support for multiple content delivery channels, such as mobile phones and tablet devices. SharePoint 2013 makes it easier for users to find your site with improved Search Engine Optimisation, such as SEO-friendly URLs and auto sitemap generation. You can also reach out to more users by displaying content in multiple languages with enhanced multilingual capability.
  2. Comprehensive Content Management: SharePoint 2013 sees the addition of rich Item and Product Catalogues, providing website administrators with the ability to easily manage complex product or item listings. Content can also be aggregated over a number of site collections and sources, making it easier to present disparate data sources. Visual interest and appeal go hand and hand with Digital Asset Management capability. SharePoint 2013 is greatly enhanced for much better handling of images and video including image and video rendition management, simplifying life for your content authors by enabling standard image sizes across your website.
  3. Dynamic Content: Content authors will also love SharePoint 2013’s ability to automatically create content rollup pages and personalised dynamically created content areas based on relevance to the user and other users’ recommendations.
  4. Fast to Market: Being able to rapidly respond to changing user and consumer behaviour can be a real competitive advantage for some organisations. Inflexible content management systems can stymie this objective. SharePoint meets this challenge by making it easy for pure web designers to create branded websites in SharePoint through the SharePoint Design Manager. This allows your design team to upload static HTML, CSS and Javascript. The Design Manager wizard will then help you convert this into SharePoint artefacts, including masterpages and page layouts, making it much easier for designers and developers to work together. Rework across sites is reduced with SharePoint Design Packages, making it easy to share site designs across multiple websites.
  5. Combined Content Approach: With SharePoint 2013 you can provide users with access to information they want where they want it, regardless of where the information is created or sourced from. Authored page content can be easily combined with Item or Product Catalogues, crawled search content, and content from across a number of different site collections and sources. Below is an overview of some of the functionality that makes this possible.

 

Office 365


Integrate your design more easily

Web designers that understand how to create HTML, CSS, and JavaScript have all the skills needed to design websites in SharePoint 2013. There are a number of new features that reduce the amount of SharePoint-specific knowledge required to successfully design and brand a SharePoint site. Previous versions of SharePoint required a degree of expertise in specific areas of SharePoint to successfully brand a site. This included knowledge such as what content placeholders were required on a master page, or how a master page implemented certain default classes or styles.

The new SharePoint Design Manager makes it easy for designers to connect their favourite design tool directly to a SharePoint site by mapping a network drive, and then edit the file directly in SharePoint as if it were a local file. When the design is ready, the Design Manager can convert the HTML and supporting CSS and JavaScript files to an ASP.NET master page (.master file) that is ready for SharePoint to use. This same approach can be used for page layouts too.

 

SharePoint 2013 - Design Manager


Engage with mobile

Browsing the web on a mobile device is now commonplace. Users now expect that a website should be optimised for usability on smartphones and other mobile devices such as tablets. Previous versions of SharePoint included an auto-generated mobile view that was difficult to customise.

 

Mobile view

 

SharePoint 2013 introduces mobile channels that enable you to render a website in multiple ways and use different designs that target different devices. Users can also create content that targets these different devices or channels.

This is achieved in three steps:

  1. Use the Design Manager to create channels that are then mapped to particular devices or groups of devices such as smartphones. Once the channel is created it can be associated with a particular smartphone-optimised design.
  2. Insert Mobile Panels into to a page to control what content is displayed in a certain channel. This allows users to selectively include or exclude portions of a page. For example: You might want pages to display only a “brief summary” on the smartphones channel with a “full summary” on the desktop channel experience.
  3. Finally, you can force the channel that devices will use, either through the use of cookies or creating custom device detection logic

This provides for much improved mobile functionality for public-facing websites.

 

SharePoint 2013 Design Manager: Manage Device Channels


SharePoint content model

Provide users with access to information they want where they want it, regardless of where the information is created or sourced from. Site collection boundaries are no longer an issue for publishing SharePoint content. SharePoint 2013 introduces the concept of the Catalogue. Lists and Libraries can now be flagged as a catalogue, allowing them to be used in pre-defined search queries and enabling content to be “published” across multiple site collections.

There is also a new Product Catalogue site template that allows the creation of commerce-style websites or used as a content repository or knowledge base. Search is again used to “publish” content through or across multiple site collections enabling real reuse of content.

Navigation and URLs can now be driven by your metadata Term Store. This is especially useful for catalogue-style sites, as it provides for dynamic “topic” page creation, minimising the number of physical pages needed.

 

Sharepoint content model


Manage your digital assets

An engaging website needs visual interest and appeal. This is often generated through the use of attractive imagery and video content, which can increase the workload on your content authors. To reduce this burden a content management system needs strong digital asset management capability. SharePoint 2013 greatly improves the digital asset management capability with much better handling of images and video.

New image rendition functionality in SharePoint 2013 allows the dynamic transformation of images in SharePoint, creating thumbnails and resizing the actual image, not just the presentation. Standard image sizes can also be defined for the entire web site, ensuring consistency. Images can also be cropped within SharePoint, greatly improving the content editor experience.

 

SharePoint 2013 Image Renditions

 

Video support improvements include easier embedding of video, thumbnail generation, video renditions and support for external videos such as YouTube videos.


Increased search engine findability

Many organisations invest heavily in their public web presence and want to know that they are generating the greatest return on this investment by maximising the number of people viewing their site. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is key to this and is an area that has been significantly overhauled for this release. SharePoint 2013 now implements SEO friendly URLs with automatic sitemap generation. Each page also provides an interface for managing SEO properties such as Meta Description, and Meta Keywords.

 

SharePoint 2013: Increased search engine findability

 

This is a summary of a few of the exciting changes to the SharePoint 2013 web content management and mobile capability. If you’d like to talk in more detail about this or how SharePoint 2013 can assist your organisation please don’t hesitate to get in contact.

 

Posted by: Robert Stewart, Solution Specialist | 03 September 2012

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