A Practical Guide to SharePoint 2013

A Practical Guide to SharePoint 2013
A Practical Guide to SharePoint 2013 - Book by Saifullah Shafiq

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Practical Guide to SharePoint Article 11

Article 11

SharePoint Online

In this Article :

  • SharePoint sites in the cloud
  • SharePoint Online Packages
  • Setting up SharePoint Online

SharePoint in the cloud

ou will kill two birds with a stone in this Article . The objective is to shed light on the very interesting topic of SharePoint branding. Since SharePoint is very popular with the enterprise clients, they mostly like to add their own branding to the product. There was a time when the only thing you could do “easily” was changing the logo and the site’s title and description. Adding elements to the page’s style was a cumbersome job. When Microsoft saw companies’ interest in this area, they started adding some support in the product and made it easier for the users to add branding. Still it was not where it should have been. With SharePoint 2007, things became somewhat easier. With SharePoint 2010, branding actually took off and we saw some great very well done sites. Now with SharePoint 2013, we have full support in the product and branding sites has become a lot easier now. With the increasing popularity of mobile platforms, responsive designs have taken the top spot and are the #1 preference of the companies these days. Moreover, SharePoint is now very well established in the cloud. SharePoint until now has been popular as an Intranet product. Companies usually used it for team collaboration and document management but with SharePoint online, companies are now deploying sites that offer the same excellent look and feel that was the trademark of HTML sites back in the day and on top of that, users get the same excellent features that were the hallmark of SharePoint Intranet or Extranet solutions, for example, document management, users management, user roles, calendars, tasks management, etc. So, in this Article , first we are going to setup a SharePoint site in the cloud. Then we will develop a branded site for the cloud.

So, here is a brief introduction before we dive into the details. SharePoint Online is a cloud based service that helps organizations share and collaborate with colleagues, partners, and customers. Users can now access internal sites, documents, and other information from anywhere. It is a common platform that can be accessed from the home, office or a mobile device.

SharePoint Online has new innovative features. It has a fluid interface, file sharing capabilities, higher storage limits, cloud application development model and robust tools for administrators to more easily control the environment. Everyone benefits from the new SharePoint Online: users, managers, developers and IT professionals.

SharePoint Online site consists of two sites: the Team Site and the Website. Here is some more detail:

Team Site: The Team Site is an internal site for your team. All members of your organization can collaborate with each. They can share documents and other files. Other basis elements of the Team site include announcements, meetings, tasks list and issues list, custom lists, etc.  You can create subsites from the available site templates. For example, you can create a team blog, or a social meeting workspace to organize team events, meetings, and so on.

Website: The Website is where you design your public site. This is the site that is visible to the world.  This website has everything you need to get started with designing your site. It has libraries to store content such as images, documents, etc. that you can display on the pages of your site.

Site Components

A site is a group of pages where users can work on projects, store and share information. Following are some important site objects that are frequently used in a SharePoint site.


A list is a site component that is used to store information quickly. It has CRUD functions. There are different types of lists in SharePoint, for example, a tasks list is used to store and monitor tasks, an events list is used to store events, a custom list can comprise of any number of fields that are relevant to your business.


A library is a special type of list that stores files as well as information about files. The two most used libraries in SharePoint are: Document library and Forms library.

As the name suggests, document library is used to store documents. You can create folders inside a library to define a hierarchy. Forms library is used to store electronic forms. You can store forms directly in this library. Each form library can be associated with different content types. You can publish InfoPath form template in a library and bind it to the library. Users can open this template and fill out data. Saving the template automatically generates a new xml form that is stored in the same library.


Views play an important part in SharePoint. You can use views to see items in a list or library. These views can be added to the home page of your site so that all important information from different libraries and lists is available on the home page of the site. Multiple views can be created for a list or library. You can also use a web part to display a view of a list or library on a separate page of the site.

Web Parts

A Web Part is a modular unit of content that forms a basic building block of most pages on a site. If you have permission to edit pages, you can use web parts to customize the site to display information from different sources.
New interface has been reimagined. It is easy to navigate and easy to accomplish tasks.

Site Usage

There are several other features that allow administrators to control the site. Managing sites in SharePoint is easy because of the built-in functions that let administrators control permissions, roles, storage, content management, etc.


There are different permission levels available out-of-the box and you can create your own custom permission levels. You can assign permissions directly to the users as well groups. Assigning permissions to the groups make permission handling very easy. All you have to do is add or delete users from the group. You don’t have to handle permissions individually if you don’t want to. For granularity, you can assign permissions directly on the files and folders and to the individual users.


Everything can be customized in SharePoint and that’s the beauty of it. You can customize the interface, you can customize permissions, you can customize navigation. This is the biggest advantage of SharePoint. You are not restricted to the out-of-the-box features. SharePoint is scalable. You can add your own custom functionality.

Figure 11-1: SharePoint 365 (branded) home page

The page you see above is customized and contains custom content. One new feature is drag and drop. Another one is on-hover that allows users to see a set of rich commands and contextual information in search results.

SkyDrive Pro is cloud storage that users can use to store documents directly from within SharePoint.

Most important interesting new feature is new and improved public website. There are different out-of-the-box themes available that can quickly change the look and feel of your site. You can also create custom themes. Even if you don’t create custom theme, you can create a new design and create a master page to incorporate the new design and apply it to your site. Following are a couple of themes that come with the product.

Figure 11-2: Out-of-the-box themes

Online Packages

As of Dec 2013, the packages are as following:

Small Business Packages

Small Business
Small Business Premium
Midsize Business
$5.00 user/month
$12.50 user/month
$15.00 user/month

  • Business-class email
  • Online conferencing
  • Public website
  • File sharing
  • Office Web Apps

  • Business-class email
  • Online conferencing
  •  Public website
  • File sharing
  • Office Web Apps
  • Desktop versions of Office products

  • Business-class email
  • Online conferencing
  • Public website
  • File sharing
  • Office Web Apps
  • Active Directory Integration

Enterprise Packages

Business-class Email
Enterprise E1
Enterprise E3
$4.00 user/month
$8.00 user/month
$20.00 user/month

  • Active Directory Integration

  • Business-class email
  • Active Directory Integration
  • File Sharing
  • Online conferencing
  • Enterprise social
  • Office Web Apps

  • Business-class email
  • Active Directory Integration
  • File Sharing
  • Online conferencing
  • Enterprise social
  • Office Web Apps
  • Desktop versions of Office products
  • eDiscovery Center

Setting up SharePoint Online

In this section, we will start from scratch and setup an online SharePoint site.

Sign-up for a trial version on this link:

Click Free trial link under Enterprise E3 plan and sign up.

Here is the direct link:

Trial version expires after 30 days. If you choose to keep the site, then you have to purchase the package.

After you have signed up, you get access to the site. You get your own URL. You can also unique URL for your site should you wish to do so. You can purchase a domain name and link it to your SharePoint Online site.

Site URL looks like this:

You are also granted a unique email address that you use to login to your site. Your email address looks like this:

Plan the Public Website

So, now you have a subscription, you can setup a public website and make it available on the Internet. By default, your site is set to Offline mode. Once you have completed the site, you can take in Online. You can customize the website to create a professional online presence for your business or organization.

It’s always a good idea to do some planning before you start the work. Discipline and planning really help to keep things moving smoothly.

The website includes several sample pages: Home, About Us, Contact Us, Directions, and Blog. You can use these pages and just customize the content and you are all set to go live. You can add your company name, logo, contact information, and change color scheme. You can also create a totally new branded site for your business. That’s our next topic in this Article . In this section, we will use out-of-the-box components to set up a site.

Figure 11-3: Website menu

 Once you login, you will see a global menu. As mentioned before, there are two sites created by default, a team site and a public website. To work on the team site, you have to select team site from the global menu. To work on the public site, you have to select public website from the menu. Global menu looks like this:

Figure 11-4: Global menu

In the global menu, click Sites to see the two sites. Please note that depending on your package, the interface may look different. For example, if you are using an E3 package, you will not see the two sites. You will have to create the sites first. By default, E3 package gives you a public site. You can create more sites separately.  Click Public site to go to the public website. Click on the Home link to go to the home page. Then select PAGE tab from the top. Click Edit button from the PAGE menu. Start typing and adding elements to the page until you are done. If you have already designed a page using other design programs, copy the page from there and paste it in the content area and the save and publish the page.

To read more about SharePoint Online/to buy book, please visit following Amazon page:

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