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Design Manager is a New Feature of SharePoint Online Office 365, 2013

SharePoint includes two different type of sites: publishing sites and team sites. Outward-facing web sites, as well as any sites planned for static content do better as publishing sites. SharePoint Online includes a new tool for building publishing sites — the Design Manager.

In a document titled What’s new with SharePoint 2013 site development, Microsoft presents this feature to the developer community. “SharePoint 2013 introduces the Design Manager—a new interface and central hub for managing all aspects of branding your SharePoint site.” This feature can be accessed from the top level site collection for SharePoint Online, once the publishing infrastructure service has been enabled.

IT organizations and other groups committed to hastening user adoption of SharePoint Online computing should look closely at this feature. The Design Manager can be used to ” . . . [u]pload design assets—images, HTML, CSS, and so on . . . ”

Line of Business (LoB) organizations frequently object to the inflexibility of SharePoint site design. Branding options for Internet web sites are usually characterized as very wide, while the comparative set of options offered by SharePoint Online is portrayed as limited and hard to access.

The Design Manager attempts to provide a solution to this problem by automatically ” . . . generat[ing] HTML snippets that can be used by any web design tool[.] [I]t renders HTML and ignores ASP.NET and SharePoint markup (while SharePoint renders only ASP.NET and SharePoint markup and ignores HTML).”

The Design Manager also fills in some of the gap created when the Design and Split views were removed from SharePoint Designer 2013. This feature provides users with an opportunity to use any third party visual editing tool (like Adobe Dreamweaver) to preview design changes. The Design Manager for SharePoint Online empowers web designers to ” . . . use [their] expertise in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to design master pages in HTML, and design HTML page layouts in the HTML editor of [their] choice . . . ” If the feature performs as advertised, SharePoint Online stakeholders can overcome an otherwise formidable obstacle to SharePoint adoption.

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved