With the new version of Office 365 for enterprises to be officially launched on 27 February, there are many questions for existing customers regarding the upgrade process. In this article, I will explore what is known regarding the public website that is provided as part of a Office 365 tenant.
In the (still) current version of Office 365, the public website is using a simple design with limited functionality, which has been criticized by a lot of people:
With the new version of Office 365, the public website will however make use of many SharePoint publishing features and allow more flexibility and functionality:
Customers who will sign up for Office 365 after the general availability of the new version (27 February) will have the new website only. But what happens to existing customers and their existing public websites once Office 365 will be updated from Wave 14 (based on the 2010 versions, and using the “old & simple” website) to Wave 15 (2013 versions, using the “new & shiny” website)? Following are some important questions and their answers, as far as they are known
Will I lose my existing website once I upgrade?
You’re using Office 365, and you already have a public website. Once you upgrade, this website will not be lost and replaced by a new public website, but rather an additional public website (in the new format) will be made available. So, both of them will co-exist, and you can choose if you want to use one of them, both of them, or none.
How long can I keep my existing ‘old’ website?
This is something that I do not know right now, and I couldn’t find any information on this.
Can I use two custom domains, one for the ‘old’ website, one for the ‘new’ one?
So you want to use something like www.myawesomecompany.com for your old website, and www.ourawesomeproduct.com for the new website? Sadly, this is not possible, as only one custom domain is allowed. So one website can use your custom domain (www.myawesomecompany.com), whereas the other public website would then use the ‘internal’ name (such as mycompany-web.sharepoint.com)
Shall I use a custom domain for the old website or the new one?
I’ll start by quoting Microsoft here (see link at the bottom of this article):
Use the earlier website, which appears on the top of the Manage public website page, if one or both of the following are true for you:
- You’ve already worked on the website’s design, and you don’t want to spend time designing another Office 365 website. You also might have already associated the website with your custom domain.
- You’re almost finished designing your original website and you don’t want to start a new one.
Use the new website, which appears below the other website on the Manage public website page, if one of the following is true for you:
- You haven’t yet started designing a website.
- You started designing the earlier website, but you haven’t worked on it very much.
We recommend that you use the new website and tools if you haven’t already finished, or have nearly finished, an earlier website. The new website has more features, and includes updated design tools and new templates. It’s faster and easier to create the look and feel that you want for your Office 365 public website compared to the earlier website.
And some additional comments from me: when uncertain, go for the new website. It offers much more functionality, and while this comes with a bit more effort, the end result will be much better, and the benefits outweigh the (small) drawbacks in the long term.
In which ways is the new public website better than the old one?
The old website used a simple web-based editor, that made it easy for companies with little web design knowledge to create their own website. However, this came at the cost of limited functionality and no extensibility.
The new public website makes use of most of SharePoint’s publishing features. It is now possible to use more advanced designs and layouts for content, make use of a lot more SharePoint functionality, and provide a more compelling experience for editors, designers, and visitors. To see an example of the new public website, visit http://www.contosobistro.com/
Where can I find more information on the two public websites?
I have more questions about the public websites!
Please leave a comment below, or feel free to contact me