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SharePoint Modern UI - less ready than you might think

January 16, 2018

On our SharePoint Online sites we've had aspects of the emerging Modern User Interface for sometime now. I thought we had just reached the point of critical mass of capabilities to use it for the types of business scenarios we help our customers achieve.

 

Turns out I was wrong.

 

There are two major issues, which are fundamental to being able to go beyond a small team, or business, who can live in a single-site. (...actually there were many more, but that's a different discussion)

 

First - the mobile navigation experience.

This is something which only becomes apparent when you have need of responsive (mobile friendly) viewing... and who doesn't today?!

 

When the site is shrunk to a mobile view the navigation really only​​

supports a single site. As soon as your business or information needs required a sub-site or two, then the mobile navigation experience does not scale. This is ugly, but sort of livable if you don't intend to do very much in the way of managing your information (...or finding it again)

 

For the Enterprise you expect strong content management support, so you turn on the site collection Publishing Feature... and it goes from problematic to broken! 

 

There are seemingly random presentations of a "home" link, but not up the hierarchy to root - so I may find a way down, but I can't go back easily; switching the globally accepted presentation order of major-navigation, then sub-site elements into reverse; no indicator for which site or page you are on... and I can go on. 

 

The point being if you stick to a single site, like Microsoft seem to be targeting, then you can kind of make do on the navigation front with modern only.

 

If you want useful navigation you need Classic publishing features enabled, investment in IA (quell surprise) and accept a level of spotty-experience switching between Classic and Modern, *OR* force Classic all the way - which wont be a great experience unless you spend time blurring the edge between experiences using development - not preferred.

 

Second - The publishing-date format

this is a major issue, and is quite unbelievable. Even as I type this I think I must have got something wrong, but the issue is out there in the tech forums also.

 

The date format on Modern UI site pages is forced into only displaying an American date format. Yes, I have checked my regional settings ...everywhere. Despite the fact that most countries in the world use Day / Month / Year somehow this date has been allowed to slip through.

 

Example being if I write a News story on 4th March 2018, therefore in New Zealand (and most other countries), we would expect the date to format as 4/3/2018 - it will in fact display on my page as 3/4/2018. In fact this is been case before introduction of "Modern" publishing pages.

 

When do you think this page shown below was really published?

This, coupled with issues of time-zone/date-line we've seen recently has led to several instances of pages being published (apparently) randomly in the future - which makes using "Modern UI" next to impossible for NZ/Aus government organisations for anything other than internal team content or trivia.

 

Removing the American cookies (taking the biscuit)

to add insult to injury, when this was raised in ticket, and on user forums, the Microsoft response is "why don't you request a feature on UserVoice and get your guys to vote on it..."

 

Errr, excuse me? Yes, getting users to prioritise requirements is great time-saver, and helps focus investment and delivery *but* why should we have apply for functionality which existed in the platform, and is a basic requirement for a minimum viable product.

 

Don't believe me? Have a look at any mainstream publishing solution (including this one on Wix)... or opensource, or even Google. They all offer basic set of functionality as a minimum requirement - publishing dates, formats and timezones - its not optional

 

Close

These may seem like trifling things on the surface, but we have had web-publishing solutions for more than 25 years, and mobile experiences and globally accepted practices for design and build for over 15 - it shouldn't be an afterthought.

 

Modern is fundamentally poked. (currently)

(British colloquialism - look it up in the Urban dictionary)

 

Our recommendation

at this point continue to use Classic if you want to do anything which includes publishing web-content, or creating a news / content driven internal site - if it needs to be discoverable or have a useable way of assessing content

 

SharePoint is still a great, big platform - we just wish Microsoft would pull their finger out with Modern.

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