By Cathy Dew
Earlier this year, we looked at SharePoint Online’s brand new “Modern UI,” shining a light on some of the pros and cons of updating to the fresh user interface. On the plus side, we talked about how the new SharePoint UI had brought some lovely improvements to SharePoint document libraries, team sites, and lists. However, we also mentioned that SharePoint UI was still missing a lot of the features that companies may have come to rely upon while using Classic UI.
Five months later, the new SharePoint UI design is still missing many features. The question is, will the lack of these features be a deal breaker for your enterprise? Or should you update now to enjoy the improvements that Modern UI has made over Classic UI?
Stay informed with our 2-part series update on the Modern UI
In this two-part series, we’ll delve into the mix of feature differences between the Classic and Modern UIs. With these articles, we’ve tried to formulate a list of some of the important features that have yet to make their way to the new user interface. Hopefully, you’ll be able to use this information to decide whether to update now or wait until Modern UI establishes itself more.
Framework is coming
There are three big questions you will want to ask here to decide whether to update to Modern UI:
- Can the code be moved to specific pages only?
- Is a Modern UI update urgent, or can you wait for SharePoint to add the SPFx Extensions?
If you do a lot of theming and customization for the look of your SharePoint sites, the good news is that Modern UI does support some theming capabilities. For instance, you can change logos on your SharePoint sites, and general release color palette are expected to be coming soon.
Classic has many more options
The bad news is that Classic UI still enjoys a slew of theming and customization options that have not yet made their way to the Modern interface. For instance, Classic UI has a “Theme Selector,” which you can use to change colors, backgrounds, fonts, and other elements of your page aesthetics. Classic also supports a few Advanced Customization options that you won’t find in the new SharePoint UI design, such as color palettes, backgrounds, and alternate style sheets. These features are all accessible if you are using the Publishing Infrastructure on a Classic UI site.
Classic UI also lets you create and customize a Master Page, to brand the look and feel of your entire site. This feature is not supported in Modern UI, and even with the Classic UI customizing the Master Page is hard to do correctly and is not recommended by most SharePoint experts.
Customization is light, according to Microsoft
Rebranding sites in Modern UI with SharePoint Framework is possible. SharePoint Fx customization capabilities are slowly expanding to include more options for theming. However, the “roadmap
” that Microsoft has announced for SharePoint’s Modern UI is noticeably light on customization capabilities. In other words, those features are probably coming, but Microsoft has a lot of things that it considers to be of higher priority.
Here are the key theming-related questions to ask if you are trying to decide to stick with Classic UI or move to Modern:
- Does your SharePoint environment need a highly customized look or feel?
- Can you live with only being able to execute color and logo changes?
- Do you need a mobile interface with a responsive look and feel?
If your theming needs are minimal and your end-users have a need to access and use a mobile interface, then you can probably dive into Modern UI without much worry. If you need to provide a fully branded experience with your SharePoint sites, however, stick with Classic UI until further notice.
Microsoft is building a library of web parts for the new user interface. Currently, though, that library is limited. For instance, Modern UI does not give you the option to add event calendars to your SharePoint sites. Display Templates are also not supported in Modern UI, making it harder to customize the search web part functionality of your SharePoint environment.
Some key webparts are "coming soon"
Like the theming and customization features, these web parts are probably on the way, but no one really knows how soon. Of course, it’s possible to use SharePoint Framework to build your own web parts until SharePoint introduces a library of supported ones. The thing is that not all enterprises have the capability to do something along those lines.
If you make heavy use of supported web parts in Classic UI and are thinking about making the jump to Modern, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have someone on your team who is comfortable with advanced web part coding?
- Are you okay with building and rebuilding landing pages as new web parts become available?
If the answer to either of these questions is “No,” stick with Classic UI and watch for news about Microsoft unveiling a new web part library for the Modern user interface.
In our next article, we’ll discuss how the Classic and Modern UIs work with Document Libraries, your SharePoint Root site, and Team Sites.
Get Help with Your Decision from 2Plus2
Still not sure whether Classic UI or Modern UI is right for your enterprise? At 2Plus2, our team of SharePoint consultants would be happy to discuss your situation further. By hearing a bit more about your business and how you use SharePoint, we can give you tailored advice on whether you should update to Modern UI now or wait a few more months. Go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.