Guide to the Modern experience in SharePoint

The Modern experience in SharePoint is designed to be compelling, flexible and more performant. The modern experience makes it easier for anyone to create beautiful, dynamic sites and pages that are mobile-ready. But what are the differences between the classic and modern experiences, and how do you go about creating a modern experience for your organization? This guide is a starting point to help you learn about the modern experience and how you can begin to take advantage of it.

Information architecture and hub sites

Classic SharePoint architecture is typically built using a hierarchical system of site collections and sub-sites, with inherited navigation, permissions, and site designs. Once built, this structure can be inflexible and difficult to maintain. In the modern SharePoint experience, every site is a site collection and all can be associated to a hub site which is a flat structure of sites that share navigation, branding, and other elements. This type of structure is far more flexible and adaptive to the changing needs of your organization. Learn about how to plan for Hub sites.

The most effective SharePoint sites (and web sites in general) help visitors find what they need quickly so that they can use the information they find to make decisions, learn about what is going on, access the tools they need, or engage with colleagues to help solve a problem. The fundamental principles and good practices for site and page navigation are equally applicable to both classic and modern SharePoint architectures. However, your options for implementing navigation differs based on the framework for your sites and intranet. For example, the “inherited” navigation experiences available in classic SharePoint site hierarchies (sites with subsites) are not available in the modern experience, but hub sites provide a great way to achieve the cross-site navigation features previously available in managed navigation and site hierarchies in classic SharePoint.  

No matter which framework you are using, you can use the guidance in Plan navigation in the modern experience to help make good decisions for navigation. 

Branding

In the classic SharePoint experience, there are a set of default themes and site designs that can require a considerable amount of customization to get them to match your organization’s brand. Also, they aren’t very responsive, making the experience on different devices inconsistent. Most site branding requires the use of custom master pages or alternate CSS configurations. SharePoint Online includes an updated set of default site themes and site designs (or templates) that are responsive and look great on any device. With site themes, you can customize your site’s logo and colors to match your brand. Site designs provide specific layouts and other functionality for your site. Additional branding can be achieved using custom themes or site designs without worrying about something breaking when SharePoint Online is updated. Read Branding SharePoint sites in the modern experience to learn more about modern branding options.

Publishing

If you’ve implemented publishing sites or publishing-enabled sites in your organization, you know how important it is to create attractive and performant pages to distribute communication to a large number of people. In the modern experience, Communication sites make it easy to create beautiful, dynamic, and performant sites and pages that are mobile-ready. There are differences from classic publishing, though, and things you’ll want to think about planning your move to the modern experience. Learn more in Moving from Publishing sites to Communication sites.

Search is an important part of any site – you want people to be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily. SharePoint Online has both a classic and a modern search experience. The most visible difference is that modern search is personal and the results you see are different from what other people see, even when you search for the same words. For example, users see only the results that they already have access to, and other users can’t find documents that are private to users. There are other differences, especially around customization, that you can learn about in Get started with the modern search experience

Sharing and permissions

SharePoint Online continues to provide both SharePoint groups as well as security groups maintained by Azure Active Directory. Office 365 also provides a third grouping option for SharePoint, Office 365 Groups. Office 365 Groups are similar to security groups, although Office 365 Groups include many additional benefits. Office 365 groups are provided a group email address as well as additional tools such as a group calendar, notebook, Planner, and a SharePoint Team site. Users assigned to an Office 365 Group may also be classified as either a group owner or a group reader, in comparison to security groups where all group members have equal access under the group. Learn about the differences, benefits, and best practices for permissions and sharing in the modern experience in Sharing and permissions in the SharePoint modern experience.