Audience:

 Office 365 for professionals and small businesses
 Office 365 for enterprises
 Office Live Small Business

Originally Posted on the Office Live Small Business Blog here.

Last week we mentioned our excitement in the release of a new free tool* by ValorConseil that will help users backup their Office Live Small Business sites and transition them to Office 365. Today ValorConseil announced that they updated their migration tool. Be sure to download this free tool to help you with your transition to Office 365.

According to ValorConseil, the version 2 of the migration tool released today can  transfer everything from the WEB site to Office 365, including Pages, Images and Documents. The remaining tasks left to OLSB site administrators are:

  1. Reconstructing site navigation (site hierarchy)
  2. Minor fixes like selecting logo and few other issues
  3. The tool  creates a complete site backup on user's PC.

Be sure to download this free tool to help you with your transition to Office 365.

We also ran across a great blog post about Office 365 public-facing website best practices. Raymond Mitchell from iwkid.com walks users through Office 365 website creation while providing tips and tricks that will help anyone jumping into Office 365.

Regards,

- The Office Live Small Business Team

*This  third party service is unaffiliated with Microsoft. You will need to investigate whether this service will meet your particular needs.  Microsoft is not responsible for third party services

Office 365 public-facing Website - in practice

Written by Raymond Mitchell

For those of you that aren’t familiar, Office 365 plans come with the ability to create a public-facing website.  I actually presented on the topic last year at SPSChicago but hadn’t had a chance to really dig in and create a production site until recently.

The opportunity finally presented itself when we were looking to re-launch the website for the Minnesota SharePoint Developers User Group.  We had a pretty simple set of requirements and so I thought this would be a great solution.  With the help of a few design-minded friends (Thank you Kristin and Kristina!!!) we were able to put together (in my totally biased opinion) a very nice little site:

Along the way I learned a few tricks and also have a few suggestions for v-next just in case @Office365 is listening

Tips

  • By default your navigation includes a link called “Member Login” which allows administrators to login and mange the site.  For a user group site this is highly misleading/confusing so it needed to be removed.  Once it is gone you may have trouble getting back into the page management – my workaround was to simply navigate to the forms listing page behind the scenes:  /Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspx
  • You’ll probably want to start by configuring the site’s colors, style, and theme and then tweak from there.  You’ll almost certainly want to configure custom styles (Style Sheet) and tweak your navigation (Hierarchy) – both options can be found on the Design tab on the ribbon: 
  • Take it slow – there isn’t a way to roll-back to a previous version of a page so you’ll want to be careful when you’re making changes.  You can always choose to cancel your changes when you leave the page but once you’ve saved you cannot go back. 
  • Choose your page layouts wisely.  Once selected you cannot change the number or placement of zones: 

It’d be great if...

  • Navigation
    • There doesn’t appear to be a way to link to external pages in the navigation.  Pretty common scenario that needs to be supported
  • Images
    • The editor won’t allow you to resize an image without maintaining aspect ratio.  This is great for most scenarios but there are a few cases where it makes sense to have the option
  • Tables
    • The table editor is BARE BONES – this needs to be updated to support simple things like setting column widths, cell background colors, etc
  • Additional page headers
    • If you want to include JavaScript or configure a favicon you’re stuck looking for clever script monkey workarounds
  • List support
    • While public facing sites aren’t really really built on SharePoint they do live within SharePoint so it would be great to be able to leverage lists.  For example – not having the ability to create user group surveys, registration forms, or events lists that are presentable on the site seems like a big gap.
  • Extensibility
    • At this point I have not been able to find any information on creating additional “gadgets” for use in 365 Public Sites.  Lots of opportunities come to mind here but we’ll just have to wait and see if the ability becomes available.

Conclusion

It is absolutely possible to create a web presence using an Office 365’s public-facing website but it is important to know that you aren’t working with a normal HTML site nor are you working with SharePoint.  For now we can do what we can with the tools they’ve given us and keep our fingers crossed for more functionality / options in the future.

More information about public-facing Office 365 sites can be found here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-online-small-business-help/step-3-customize-the-public-facing-website-HA102029499.aspx