Changes to home and start experiences in Microsoft 365

In this episode of Ask Sympraxis we begin by looking at the home and start page experiences in Microsoft 365 through the lens of the Maturity Model. The journey begins at level 100, where some users have isolated site collections. These site collections lack interconnectedness. At level 200, this could include the utilization of the Microsoft Viva Connections Home Experience, which consolidates news and conversations from various sites, along with surfacing the SharePoint app bar navigation. At level 300, we witness the adoption of hub sites. Level 400 sees the usage of Home Site capability, declaring a site as the home site and surfacing it in Viva Connections. At level 500, multiple home sites emerge, catering to diverse task-based requirements and accommodating audience targeting.

Update to SharePoint Start

While it’s uncommon for organizations to use SharePoint Start as the centralized home experience, the new rollout seeks to inspire content creators to utilize this platform more effectively. It is intended to enable content creators to easily create new pages, news posts, and sites. They can review drafts, past work, and monitor content analytics.

Viva Connections Home Experience

Viva connections is used to integrate your intranet into Teams. This has had several iterations in the past few years. Starting with allowing site owners to bring their intranet home site into Teams as an application. The most recent changes rolled out in the earlier part of this year. This included a new landing experience, providing easy access to all Viva suite tools and introducing new experiences. There are a new round of updates coming later this year which will include updates to news, personal tasks, and resources. It will continue to be the launch pad for Viva tools as they evolve. Users can also access adaptive card extensions from the dashboard.

New Adaptive Card Extensions

The upcoming SPFx update introduces new card layouts for adaptive card extensions. Users can interact directly within the initial card view, and there are possibilities to create custom layouts. Additionally, the update to the adaptive card framework allows the use of the execute action which will allow us to update the version of the adaptive card framework being used and leverage newer features.

SharePoint Home Site

SharePoint Home Site has been around for some time. Administrators can designate a specific site within the tenant as the home site via the SharePoint admin center or PowerShell. The same can be achieved through the Viva Connections option in the Microsoft 365 admin center. Home sites can be targeted to specific subsections of the organization, providing greater control over accessibility and license-based views.

Setting Communication Site as Primary in Viva Connections

To set home sites, PowerShell commandlets are available using PnP PowerShell. For multiple home sites, the process can be managed through the Microsoft admin center, but you need a paid Viva license to be able to do this.

Multiple Home Sites

Multiple home sites can be created through the Microsoft admin center. This allows administrators to create a specific landing experience for users depending on their membership in different groups. For example, an organization with multiple subsidiaries that operate independently can create a home site for each subsidiary and the starting point can be different for each employee depending on which subsidiary they belong to. This, however, requires a paid Viva license. If you don’t have a Viva license you can create a homesite-like experience in Teams. You can do this by packaging a manifest as a Teams personal app and uploading it to the admin center. While this approach allows audience targeting without the actual home site, it doesn’t offer the additional functionalities mentioned earlier, like tenant-wide search scope. That said, it is a possible alternative to give the idea of multiple home sites without the viva license.

As the rollouts continue to emerge, we are eager to watch the additional changes and capabilities yet to come. If you have any questions on the current possibilities, both out of the box and custom extensibility, please reach out to our team!

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