EPC Group’s SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 information architecture consultants have recently worked on a large number of enterprise SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 initiatives with a strong client focus on Web Content Management and this blog post will provide a deep-dive around our recent “from the trenches” experiences.

SharePoint 2013 does come with a number of new Web Content Management (WCM) features as well as major improvements in features that were available in SharePoint 2010’s release.

The improvements around cross-site publishing as well as the ability to present powerful video to users while introducing new content embedding capabilities have been met with great feedback by end users and content owners.

New features around content authoring, the use of digital assets, image renditions, clean URLs and more powerful metadata navigation capabilities allow SharePoint administrators to meet the needs of the business while being able to lean on the out-of-the-box capabilities of SharePoint 2013.

Figure 1 shows a graphical overview of content authoring in SharePoint 2013.

The following list highlights the core features of SharePoint 2013’s WCM capabilities:

  • Custom Error \ 404 Pages
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tools and the Analysis Engine, as shown in the first image below.
  • Image Renditions and Video Improvements, as shown in the second image below.
  • Cross-Site Publishing
  • Product Catalog
  • Managed Navigation
  • Friendly URLs

 

Figure 3 below shows a example of the improved user experience with new image and video capabilities.

Custom 404 \ Error Pages

The ability to create a custom error or “404 \ Not Found” page is a “nice-to-have capability” that a lot of organizations really do not take advantage or in their implementations.

I do think this is something that should be implemented as it only takes a small amount of time to tailor these pages and provides users with more direction regarding next steps and how to possibly provide themselves with self-help support, but is not taken advantage of in many deployment efforts.

Figure 4 shows a standard Error or 404 Not Found page.

You are able to create custom “404 \ Not Found” page via SharePoint’s interface or using Windows PowerShell.

Note: To create a Publishing site, you can create a new site collection and then select the Publishing tab and then Publishing Portal option, which Figure 5 shows.

All the Publishing sites contain a “404 \ Not Found” page named “PageNotFoundError.aspx” which resides in the Pages library, which Figure 6 shows below, which you can find by clicking on Site Contents.

You can then open the “PageNotFoundError.aspx” and edit it to meet your organization’s specific needs.

SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 SharePoint Online also contains a new Error Page content type which can be located in the Site Content Types Gallery, which Figure 7 shows below.

This Content type Inherits from “Page” Content type and has the standard layout of “404 \ Not Found” pages. In SharePoint Server 2013, this can be found under Site Settings and then Content Types.

In Office 365’s SharePoint Online, in a publishing page this can be found under Site Settings and then Site Content Types under the Web Designer Galleries category, which Figure 8 shows below.

To create a new “404 \ Not Found” page using SharePoint’s UI, an administrator can go to the Pages Library and under the Files tab, click New Document and select Error Page, which Figure 9 shows below.

The Create Page screen, which Figure 10 shows below, will then load, and you can specify the details and modify the configurations required for this new error page for your organization. After you have completed the custom configurations you then must check-in and publish the page to make it available.

Image Renditions and Video Improvements

SharePoint 2013 provides for new and added capabilities around managing and presenting images and videos within sites and related pages. SharePoint 2013’s image renditions capability allows you to dynamically modify the image to best fit the overall “site presentation” and experience you are wanting to display to your users. These renditions are actual thumbnails that are created automatically and cached to allow for you to have consistently sized images to display within your site.

This feature allows you to optimize your sites and pages payload to help ensure you to not have images that are causing major bandwidth and page load issues. It also allow you to crop an image to allow for targeting a specific area within a picture similar to how you would perform cropping when uploading a picture to a LinkedIn or My Site profile.

SharePoint 2013’s video improvements and new capabilities include the ability to meet specific business requirements like creating an enterprise podcast series. The additional video improvements in SharePoint 2013,Office 365 and/or SharePoint Online include:

  • The ability to embed videos to any content page
  • New video thumbnail generation is automated
  • Provide renditions for videos just like those of image renditions
  • The ability to support external videos
  • Capabilities for multiple encodings for single video
  • A new native HTML 5 video player
  • Capabilities to provide fallback to Silverlight as needed
  • SharePoint 2013 provides for a new video content type
  • Content authors are able to select from a specific frame from a video also use the selected frame and use that as the thumbnail preview image.

Note: To be able to utilize the automated thumbnail creation feature, the Desktop Experience feature must be installed and configured on the front-end web server(s) of SharePoint Server 2013.

Content authors have the ability to insert an IFrame element into an HTML field on a site that utilize embed dynamic content that already exists from other sites and pages such as videos, maps, or other relevant content.

SharePoint automatically trusts some external domains that are already approved for use in IFrames and SharePoint administrators and site collection owners can customizes and implement governance around the field security settings that allow whether external domains are trusted for use within the environment

Note: To modify and update the field security settings for a site collection, click HTML Field Security on a site’s Site Settings page.

EPC Group Tip: In order to utilize image renditions within your organization in SharePoint Server 2013, you must first ensure that you have enabled the BLOB cache.