How to Create a Sharepoint Site in Office 365
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SharePoint is a solution for managing internal content. It’s almost like an off-the-shelf mini-intranet. As such, it’s mainly used by SMBs. SMBs are also very likely to use Office 365 and the good news is that SharePoint Online and Office 365 have excellent integration. With that in mind, here is a quick guide to setting up a SharePoint site in Office 365.
Creating the site itself
Go to the SharePoint start page and click + Create site.
Choose a team site or a communication site. This is actually a really important decision, although the good news is that it’s often a fairly easy one to make.
Team sites emphasize collaboration and as such they are connected to Office 365 groups. These groups can be public or private. Team sites are places for team members to have conversations, keep track of events, manage tasks and generally share information. As such, team sites will typically include tools and services such as a distribution list, a team calendar, Planner and OneNote.
Communication sites are basically sites which give people who are not members of your team an insight into what you are doing. Typically, people in your team will publish the content and it will then (hopefully) be consumed by your wider organization.
Once you have chosen the type of site you want, a Wizard will guide you through inputting the necessary details. These will include adding a title and description for your site, editing the group email name, deciding if the group will be public or private, choosing a sensitivity level for your site information and selecting a default language for your site. You’ll then click finish and have a site, albeit an empty one.
To add a list or document library, go to the relevant SharePoint site and click new and then choose whether to add a list or a document library. The Create pane will open and you type in the name of your list or document library. You also have the option to add a description. Then click create.
You can use columns to organize information. Just go to your choice of list or library and click on it. Then select “Open the filters pane”. This will show you a list of options by which you can filter. Just choose whatever you want.
You can add lots of other content types. Your current options are Page, News Post, News Link, Plan and App. For Pages and News Posts, you can also add Web Parts. Just go to the relevant page or news post and select the plus (+) sign. Then choose the element you want to add.
Setting up a SharePoint site in Office 365 is all very well, but the fact is that your SharePoint site is just going to sit there gathering digital dust unless you actually use it in a meaningful way and to do that, you need to grasp the basic principles behind SharePoint itself, so here they are.
As previously mentioned, you can think of SharePoint sites as being mini-intranet sites. Just like good intranet sites (and good internet sites), SharePoint sites should be set up to serve a specific purpose. This starts with deciding whether or not the focus will be on collaboration (team sites) or communication (communication sites) but this is really only a very high-level decision.
Once you’ve made this choice you then have to create, display and curate meaningful content. This means creating the necessary number of pages (or other SharePoint items) and filling them appropriately, usually with the help of web parts. You can think of web parts as being elements you can add to an empty page to give it meaning. For example, two very common web parts are text and images as these are the building blocks of most corporate content (and a lot of content on the internet).
One of the big differences between SharePoint sites and regular internet sites is that you don’t necessarily have to think about search engine optimization, although it can be helpful to keep its principles in mind as these can guide you towards good SharePoint practices. As you’re not competing for top rankings in search results, you don’t have to put yourself under any pressure to create original content at all, let alone to keep updating your site regularly to demonstrate that it is still active and being maintained.
This means that you can, if you wish, use a SharePoint site essentially as a “set-and-forget” online archive, if that suits your business purposes. The key point to take away, however, is that, just as with the wider internet, successful SharePoint sites are the ones which serve the needs of their users and this fact should be kept front and center at all times during their creation.