Easy answer – Microsoft forced us to.
We use Office365 SharePoint sites. Office365 recently announced that it is deprecating it’s public website offering. That means that you can no longer build public websites on Office365. In addition, they gave people 2 years to move existing websites off of Office365.
At first I was infuriated with this decision. We were happy with our public website. We used all the new techniques to build it (HTML5, CSS3, Bootstrap, Responsive Design, etc…). And, we used all the great SharePoint 2013 offerings to convert HTML into MasterPages. It was great. We showed how a first class company can actually use SharePoint to create anything in a public site.
However, there were issues with SharePoint public websites:
- Blog – the SharePoint blog is just not that good compared to other tools like WordPress. It was clunky to use. Hard to do comments. Etc…
- OGP support – OGP is Open Graph Protocol. It allows website to put social media content (images, links, authors, etc…) when posts are published to social media (like Facebook). This was impossible to do with Office365 (believe us, we researched intensly). Now, there is an Office365 app from Microsoft that claims to do this. But, it doesn’t work with the SharePoint blog posts (the main reason to want this). So, anytime we linked a new blog to Facebook or Twitter, it didn’t look right because of the lack for this support.
- Plugins – WordPress is built on public website facing plugins. Need spam support – there’s a plugin for that. Need better caching – there’s a plugin for that. I mean, let’s not recreate the wheel here – there’s usually a plugin for that. We missed this severely with Office365. The app concept behind SharePoint 2013 does not lend itself to all the possible scenarios you need in the public website world. It is much more for building custom applications on SharePoint.
- SEO – the SEO integration into WordPress is top notch. Especially when using the correct frameworks (like Genesis). The SEO integration into SharePoint is an afterthought. It allows you to put some descriptions and stuff on the page. But, it’s really hard to do true SEO practices.
So, after we calmed down, we realized Microsoft did us a favor. We moved our website to WordPress and couldn’t be happier with the results.
Well, we are still unhappy Microsoft ever promised public websites on Office365 in the first place. We wouldn’t have gone down this route if they had a clear roadmap (we are not big fans of Microsoft adding functionality and removing it later on). We feel Microsoft could have made their public websites great, but instead they chose to discontinue. That is fine. It was just the process they took to get to that decision (i.e.: after launching and promoting) was disheartening.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to show how great RePoint Technologies is (self promoting plug). We were able to take this unique HTML5, CSS3, Bootstrap3, Responsive design and implement it in both SharePoint and WordPress. The end users have no clue either way. It is pixel perfect the same. In addition, we used best practices for both. Our WordPress theme is a custom child theme of the Genesis Framework. No shortcuts here. I am truly impressed with the RePoint team in what they can accomplish. Not just the best SharePoint developers in the world, the best developers in the world too.
So, in the end, we have the exact same website. But, we have a better blog, better Facebook/Twitter integration, better SEO and it’s easier to maintain and enhance. Thus, our frustration of Microsoft’s inability to create a sustainable road map has turned into a blessing in disguise for our company. A costly blessing (in terms of time spent), but a blessing nonetheless.
I am currently looking to do the same with a very large site. Sharepoint is just not a platform I want to work with. Could you explain the process you guys took to move your site and any cost / headaches involved.
Hi Will. Basically, we started with a platform (WordPress in our case). Then, we decided if we wanted to build our own theme or used a pre-built one. We did our own so we could make it look exactly like our original site because we love our look and feel. Then we decided on our development process. WordPress has these parent themes that give you a lot of the foundation for good development. Then you can build a child theme on that. We picked the “Genesis” parent in WordPress (it’s great if you want to build really well put together child themes).
Then, after that it was all about rebuilding our templates. Once we got our templates to build the same html/css that we had in SharePoint we could just copy content over as is.
So, yes, it was a headache. We didn’t calculate cost because we did it internally. If you need any consulting services moving your site, just let me know.
I wonder if you could assist me: I’m in the process of revamping our web-presence. Our KnowledgeBase is on SharePoint and we would like to integrate it with a public facing website… I’m also thinking of going the WordPress route, just not sure on how to syndicate / share info from the KB (in SP) onto the WP site? I would love to share the info through features like forums and blog in WP.
1. Availability from the Internet – if you are on O365, that will work. If it is on premises, then you will have to check on that
2. Authentication – it can’t be anonymous data with the new direction of SharePoint (as I mentioned in my blog post). So, you will have to authenticate with some sort of service account through oAuth or another means to get the data and display it on the WordPress site.
Still on my mission to enhance our web-presence. Thank you for the previous response, it really helped us on our way. The link between WP & SP is quite a story. We are calculating the cost of creating that link vs just relocating the whole knowledge base over to WP. (I know it sounds easier that it will be…)
Part of the thought is that we want everything on our platform to work as seamlessly as possible. That is everything from blogs, forums, LMS to knowledge base and possibly a working demo of our flagship software.
My question, when you moved from SP, did you take your knowledge base along? How did you manage that migration?
If you did I actually have a lot of questions.
Have you considered moving the whole knowledgebase to WP? You could have your website + blog + forum + knowledge base run on WP.
Do let me kow if you need any assistance.
I would like to see you use workflows, create systems and reporting/BI with WordPress.
I think you missed the point of the article. This is talking about public facing websites. Not business websites. If I was to use workflows, create systems and reporting/BI – it wouldn’t be on a publically accessible website. It would have a login component to it. At that point, Office365/SharePoint makes more sense. The point is that Microsoft is forcing people to move off of Office365/SharePoint for public facing sites. They are literally removing the functionality. So, use the best platform the job at hand is basically the point.
HI Greg – so just to reconfirm here and forgive me if I am asking this question in the wrong topic, but if I am looking at a solution for a whole lot of public facing online forms, documents and pictures to be stored, and work flow capabilities around all of the above, would you still say that Sharepoint would be the better route over WordPress? I am looking at about 500,000 authenticated users using our platform round the world…
PS: My organisation doesn’t plan to use Office 365, we will plan to buy a SP site from an online SP hosting provider.
In your case, I think SharePoint is the way to go. When I say “public facing” I am referring to marketing sites, blogs, static content, news sites, etc… In your case, you are looking for business functionality. SharePoint is the best for that in my opinion. Also, you have no issue with what I am describing because you are using an SP hosting provider.
Please reach out if you need any help implementing your requirements. We do what you are talking about a lot. We even recently built a WordPress portal where users could download the forms and then submit to an internal SharePoint site through WordPress. Doesn’t sound like that is your exact requirements. Point is, we’ve seen every situation for form submissions and using SharePoint. So, I am sure we can help if you need it.
I’d like to know how you moved your web content from SharePoint to WordPress. Did you find an automated way or was content a copy and paste approach?
We redesigned our site at the same time. So, we preferred to copy/paste anything we needed to move. But, we have automated the process through APIs for one of our clients. It took custom development to do it.