In an article last year, I expressed my frustration with the current Office 365 public sites, for which building dynamic pages requires more effort than it should. Well, it doesn’t mean that it cannot be done, and Bradshaw & Weil is one of these sites that take advantage of both the traditional list management capabilities of SharePoint and the features specific to Office 365.
The site content is managed by the site admins in SharePoint lists. For example, when you open Topics.aspx?Menu=For%20Individuals SharePoint will filter the Topics list to only display the topics tagged “For Individuals”. Topics.aspx?Menu=For%20Individuals&Topic=Motorcycle%20Insurance will only display the information related to motorcycle insurance, and will pull from the Insurance Carriers library only the logos of the carriers that offer this specific service. Thanks to the dynamic behavior and the use of querystrings in the URL (“Menu” and “Topic”), a single page handles all the topics, where with a static site 20 pages would be needed. And if a new topic gets added to the Topics library, this will automatically create a new entry in the menu.
Besides content management, the site gets all the benefits from working with Office 365. The business users have a convenient interface, the Site Design tool, to customize the header, footer and layout of the pages, without having to call a SharePoint consultant for every minor change. And the gadgets allow them to include convenient features like contact forms that would be hard to implement on a regular SharePoint site.
The site also gets help from jQuery. Note in particular:
- the horizontal navigation bar (built with the rock solid SuperFish plugin)
- the home page slideshow (featuring the popular Nivo slider plugin)
- the logos shuffle animation (based on the slick Quicksand plugin, select a radio button to watch the animation).
All these plugins pull content from SharePoint lists and libraries (menu items, images, logos, phone numbers, website links). Here again, no need to call the designer every time a logo gets added or a phone number changes!
For this project, I worked directly with Jared Morgan, vice president. This was a great experience, as the company has been using SharePoint for several years, and Jared knew exactly what to aim for.
As you explore the site, feel free to post your comments or questions below, and Jared and I will be happy to post additional details.
And if your company is interested in a test drive of Office 365, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to send you an invitation for a free trial.