SharePoint Branding and Customization

Often times a client interested in SharePoint wants to do something, sometimes small and sometimes drastic, to change the look of the out of the box SharePoint site. The basic branding changes include a few color palette changes and a logo placement. Eventually though, a client will want to alter some of the layout, remove a menu, or wish to lay out a page that just is not possible with the page layouts offered in SharePoint.

The first place to start branding your site can be with the SharePoint’s master page. SharePoint’s most recent version offers two out of the box master page layouts, named Oslo and Seattle. Seattle is the layout that most people who have used SharePoint are accustomed to, and Oslo utilizes a top line of navigation as opposed to a left menu that Seattle employs. These master pages can be customized to fit the branding requirements of the client as needed.

Web Parts are a fairly popular option for adding content to a SharePoint site. When creating a page in SharePoint, the user can opt for certain layout options that provide positions to place Web Parts. In some cases a client may find these layout options limited and unsuited for their needs. Custom page layouts can fill the void and provide these clients with the customization that meets their requirements.

Microsoft recently released the SharePoint color pallette tool which will provide an easier method for customizing all the colors involved in a SharePoint layout. Previously, a custom css stylesheet was the method for making site wide color changes, but utilizing SharePoint color pallettes make this job a whole lot easier. Stylesheets and css can still be used in certain cases to make precision like changes to a layout, along with some client side javascript or jquery.

A client may want to match their SharePoint environment to their external facing web site, or may just want to provide their users with a fresh look as opposed to the default SharePoint experience. In either case, there are plenty of avenues to make things look just right when it comes to a SharePoint site to change the generic out of the box look.