Section Backgrounds In SharePoint – Overdue or Overhyped?

A new feature has been added to SharePoint. It’s the ability to add backgrounds to page sections. But why? Isn’t SharePoint fine the way it is?

As it turns out, it’s not. We’re all used to SharePoint looking like SharePoint. Despite the fact that many of those same people hate SharePoint because… get this… it looks like SharePoint.

We’ve been waiting for a change.

We’ve been waiting for something to bridge the gap between what “normal” websites look like, and what SharePoint looks like.

Basic websites can have backgrounds. They can have TONS of features that we usually don’t see in SharePoint. Well, we’ve been seeing some of these features coming to SharePoint lately, like the section backgrounds.

But what does this mean? Are we getting just a couple of features that were long overdue? 

Not exactly. I think we’re getting a major overhaul of SharePoint, delivered in pieces, and designed to address not only the viewing experience in SharePoint, but also the editor experience.

This section background is an example of something improving the viewing experience. It makes your pages rich, immersive, and visually appealing. It increases engagement, which means users stay on your page, getting more value.

So how does it work?? Here’s how to use it:

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When you edit a section, you’ll see new options. There are images you can add as a section background, but also an option to upload your own images.

With just a few clicks, you can add a splash of color to your site. SharePoint has looked fairly plain for a long time, but that was okay. Historically we wanted SharePoint to be functional, not fashionable. 

Now, we get both. We get the functionality we need to get work done and find information, while competing better with other commercial intranet offerings.

A lot of images are too bright or distracting to be a good background. That’s fine, because you can add an overlay to your background to darken it or add gradients. You can even change the opacity to make it look the way you need, without taking away from the viewing experience. 

These options are really awesome, and I don’t think we’ll fully appreciate what these can do to an intranet until we shift our mindset into a design-first approach with SharePoint. As more design-based features roll out for SharePoint, they’ll fill in the gaps we’ve had for decades. With them, we’ll have a more complete set of tools to make rich content that’s highly functional, serving our users with a good experience.

If you’re like me and have no artistic ability, make friends with a designer in your company. Let them be a part of the page design experience, and leverage their ability along with these tools to make great content.

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