New branding and publishing content on Office 365 demo sites

Posted Monday, June 2, 2014 9:25 AM by CoreyRoth

As a partner, you have access to, where you can provision a free Office 365 tenant good for 90 days.  If you aren't familiar with these demo sites in SharePoint Online, they come packed with demo content to demonstrate various Intranet scenarios.  All you need is a Live ID associated with your organization's partner record.  If you are a Microsoft partner and don't have your Live ID associated, the person that manages your partnership in your company can help get you associated.

What I love about these demo sites is that they are constantly being updated.  The latest revisions brings us a new home page demonstrating a carousel feature for showing off articles using display templates.  You can click on the image in the carousel, however, I find getting to the article to be not very user friendly.  You have to click on the item in the carousel and then click on the large image above.  This might be better implemented using a hover effect.


Scrolling down, you'll see some familiar content from previous Contoso demo sites, but now they actually have real content behind them.


If you don't remember the previous home page, take a look at the screenshot below.  It demonstrated content roll-up but you couldn't actually click on any of the links. 


Now you'll be happy to know that you can finally read the message from the president of Contoso!


Unfortunately, the news page is still static.  I would like to see this page updated with a Content Search web part to do the news roll-up.  I could see this coming in the future, but in the meantime if you need to demonstrate the concept, it's easy for you to implement.


Going back to the home page, there's a nice video slider. 


Clicking on the image of any of them, takes you a video article page.  Unfortunately, I could never get any of them to play even though there is a video player control there.


At the bottom of the home page, it features some sales metrics.  Unfortunately, this is just a content editor web part with a static link but it does help to demonstrate that you can bring in metrics.  I would love to see this get wired up to some data.


The web part in the center at the bottom is supposed to show events.  However, there must not be any data loaded for them.


Lastly, the web part zone in the bottom right shows documents that belong to the user using Content Search.


This site really is a great example of the kind of things you can do with Content Search web parts and Display Templates.  You can see a list of them that they used when you edit the page.  If you like them enough, you could probably even "borrow" them to make your own.


As far as the rest of the subsites, I didn't see a lot of differences.  They have new branding but the content appears to be the same.

Mark Kashman (@mkashman) pointed out that the design is responsive too.  When viewed on a mobile device, the navigation collapses to a "hamburger" menu. You can click on an article and see that content too formatted nicely for your mobile device.


The Yammer feed is also available using the floating "Y" icon.


However, when I tried clicking on the Yammer link on my phone it prompted me to get the Yammer App for Windows Phone.  I already had it so I said "no thanks" and it gave me an error trying to render it.

I think the Office team did a great job with this new home page.  It does a great job showing how you can roll-up content in SharePoint 2013.  It actually demonstrated article publishing and these are the kinds of things that I am guessing a lot of you out there have implemented for clients.  This is going to be absolutely great for demos.  If you don't have a demo Office 365 tenant, go provision one today!


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