SharePoint Customization – Complete Guide

Want to understand SharePoint customization? What are the various SharePoint Customization Options available? In this tutorial, I will explain everything on SharePoint customization.

Apart from this, we are going to discuss the below things:

  • What is SharePoint customization?
  • Why to customize SharePoint?
  • SharePoint Customization Options
  • Customization in SharePoint Online
  • SharePoint Modern Site Customization
  • SharePoint Site Customization
  • SharePoint Customization Best Practices
  • SharePoint Customization Interview Questions
  • Various SharePoint Customization Examples

So let us start and read the complete SharePoint customization tutorial.

What is SharePoint customization?

If you have made any changes to SharePoint without deploying any custom code, then it is known as SharePoint customization. For example:

  • Branding of your SharePoint sites using Master pages, page layouts, and style sheets
  • Customize your SharePoint sites using themes
  • Developing workflows using SharePoint designer 2013
  • Change the look and feel of SharePoint list forms using InfoPath, etc.

Why to Customize SharePoint?

SharePoint is not about just document management or collaboration tool. Organizations do not just want the out-of-box functionalities, they want to modify them to display more information in it.

May be the organization wants to display, logo, navigation, reports and dashboards, etc.

Apart from this, by using SharePoint we can create various solutions like learning management system, onboarding system, leave management system, contract management system, ticketing and help desk system, etc.

We can not achieve all the functionality using the out-of-box features, for those things, we required to customize SharePoint.

What to Customize in SharePoint?

In this section, let us check out what to customize in SharePoint? Below are the top 5 things, we customize in SharePoint.

1- Branding (Change look and Feel)

As an organization, you would like to have your company logo, company branding color, etc. When we talked about branding, it is about changing SharePoint site logo, name, description, and colors throughout the entire site.

If you are using the SharePoint Online modern experience, it is easy to change the branding of the SharePoint site.

Apart from this, Microsoft also allows you to create custom themes for your SharePoint sites. Themes helps you to provide custom colors based on your organization branding or standards.

2- Navigation

For any site, navigation is very crucial, so with the SharePoint sites. Microsoft provides top navigation left navigation options, so that you can add useful links, so that user can access information quickly.

Navigation is available in both the SharePoint modern sites as well as in the classic SharePoint sites. You can check out the below articles to implement navigation in classic and modern SharePoint sites.

Apart from this, you can also add Managed metadata navigation in SharePoint Online classic sites. The managed metadata navigation is not available in modern SharePoint sites.

3- Page Content or Information

Displaying information to the users on a SharePoint site is very important. In SharePoint sites, we can create various pages to display information like, wiki pages, webpart pages, site page, etc.

In a web part page in the classic SharePoint site, we can add various web parts to display information. Microsoft provides a number of web parts to display data on a SharePoint page. But these web parts will not work on a modern SharePoint site page.

If you are using a modern SharePoint site page, then easily you can add various modern web parts to display information.

Apart from this you can also add various sections in a page to make the page more informative.

Below are a few web parts that you can use in the modern SharePoint pages:

4- Workflows for Various Business Process

If you are using modern SharePoint sites, then Microsoft is recommending using Power Automate or Microsoft flow to automate your business processes in SharePoint Online. We can develop flows from the list itself using the browser.

The flow will trigger when an item is created, updated in the SharePoint Online list. Easily, we can create approval flows using Microsoft flow or Power Automate.

But SharePoint still support SharePoint designer 2013 workflows in SharePoint Online sites.

5- Forms

In classic SharePoint sites, we usually use InfoPath designer 2013, to customize SharePoint list forms. We can apply rules, validations, etc.

In modern SharePoint sites, Microsoft provides Power Apps to create custom forms in modern SharePoint sites. Apart from this, we can also use PowerApps to customize SharePoint list forms.

Microsoft also provides, Power Apps web part to embed PowerApps form in a modern SharePoint page.

Microsoft already deprecated InfoPath, so we should use PowerApps to create and customize forms in SharePoint Online.

We can also use Microsoft forms to easily create light weight forms and embed into a page using Microsoft Forms web part.

SharePoint Customization Options

There are various options available in SharePoint to do customization. Based on the environment, you can choose the options to customize SharePoint Online site.

1- Out of box customization

The first SharePoint customization option is out-of-box functionality. This is the first option that we can use to customize the lists, libraries, or sites in SharePoint Online, as well as in SharePoint 2019, SharePoint 2016, or SharePoint 2013.

2- Farm Solutions

This SharePoint customization option, we can use in SharePoint on-premises versions like in SharePoint 2019, SharePoint 2016, and SharePoint 2013. Farm solutions are not supported in SharePoint Online.

In case of farm solution, we use the server side code from Microsoft.SharePoint.dll.

3- SharePoint Apps or Add-ins

Microsoft provides SharePoint Apps or Add-ins that we can use to develop and add in SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-premise sites.

There are two types of Apps or Add-ins we can develop in SharePoint.

The apps we can deploy into a SharePoint app catalog site or we can even deploy to Microsoft Office store.

Even we can use various 3rd party apps into a SharePoint Online sites. There are various companies, individual contributors deployed apps to Microsoft Office store.

4- SharePoint framework (SPFx)

If you are using the modern SharePoint experience, then you have only one development model and that is the SharePoint framework development model.

We can develop various client side web parts, extensions, command sets, development according to the business requirements and use them in both classic sites as well as in modern sites.

But we can not add any classic web parts into a modern SharePoint site. We can develop SPFx web parts for SharePoint Online as well as SharePoint 2019 and SharePoint 2016.

5- Power Platform

This is the widely thing used now a days to customize SharePoint Online sites. Mainly, we use PowerApps, Power Automate and Power BI.

  • PowerApps, we use to customize list forms in SharePoint Online sites.
  • Power Automate, we use to develop flows to automate business processes.
  • Power BI, we use to analyze data for our organization.

We can use the above options in SharePoint Online.

Customization in SharePoint Online

If your organization is using SharePoint Online, then either you must have been using the classic SharePoint sites or modern SharePoint sites.

There are different ways we can customize SharePoint Online. For SharePoint classic sites, we can use master pages, page layouts, even we can use custom master pages using SharePoint designer 2013 or design manager and deploy to the SharePoint site.

Apart from this, we can also use code and developer SharePoint hosted apps or provider hosted apps.

We can still use InfoPath 2013 for customizing SharePoint classic site list forms.

For modern sites, follow the below section.

SharePoint Modern Site Customization

Modern experience has been introduced in SharePoint Online as well as in SharePoint server 2019.

By default the modern SharePoint sites are responsive and it appears properly in all the devices like tablet, laptop, and mobile devices.

In SharePoint Online, we can easily create modern site, and then also, we can change the SharePoint site theme.

Apart from this, we can also create modern pages in SharePoint Online, and also, we can Convert classic SharePoint site to modern communication site.

In the out of box ways, we can also customize modern SharePoint Online sites. There are various out of box modern web parts, that we can use in SharePoint Online modern pages.

Apart from this, we can also use the SharePoint framework development model to develop client-side web parts and add to a modern site page in SharePoint Online.

If you want to customize the modern SharePoint list forms, then we can use PowerApps.

Apart from this, if you want to develop workflows, you can use Power Automate in SharePoint. By using Power Automate we can automate the business processes in SharePoint Online.

SharePoint Site Customization

Now, let us talk about the SharePoint site customization for on-premise sites. In SharePoint server 2019, we have the option of modern SharePoint web parts, modern ways of changing themes. Apart from this, we can also use the SPFx client-side web parts in SharePoint 2019 sites.

If you are using the classic SharePoint server 2019 sites, then we will have the custom code or solution development options are there, that we can use to develop farm solutions.

SharePoint Customization Best Practices

Here are a below SharePoint customization best practices:

  • If you are using SharePoint Online, then you should start using the SharePoint modern experience. Because Microsoft regularly releasing new functionalities to sites, lists, and libraries. There are lots of things that you can do using the out-of-box features, that we usually use code in classic SharePoint sites.
  • Before starting with code, check out the out-of-box modern web parts if the functionality can be achieved or not.
  • Even if you are using SharePoint on-premises try to use as much as client-side code, because that will help while in the future if you try to upgrade. For example, if you are working with SharePoint server 2019, instead of farm solutions, you should consider developing SPFx client-side web parts. In case your organization wants to move to SharePoint Online, we do not need to rewrite the code.
  • There are various 3rd party products or apps developed for SharePoint by Microsoft partners or 3rd party companies. You should use them, as you can save a lot of time.
  • If you are using the classic SharePoint sites then do not modify anything directly on the master pages, rather create a new master page using the existing master page and make the modification on the new master page.
  • Never allow SharePoint designer access in the production SharePoint sites.
  • In the same way, if you are developing any farm solutions in SharePoint 2019/2016 or SharePoint 2013, make sure to check the coding standard, memory leaks, etc. You should follow the coding best practices.
  • Don’t give everyone customization permission on the SharePoint site. You should only give permission to those people who are responsible for SharePoint site customization.
  • You should avoid developing workflows using SharePoint designer 2013, always try to use Microsoft flow or Power Automate.

SharePoint Customization Interview Questions

Here are the top 10 SharePoint Customization Interview Questions:

  1. What is a module in SharePoint?
  2. What SharePoint development tool we can use for custom workflow development?
  3. How to create and deploy a custom master page in SharePoint Online using SharePoint design manager?
  4. How to create a custom page layout in SharePoint?
  5. How to create a theme in SharePoint?
  6. What are the differences between a Site Definition and a Site Template in SharePoint?
  7. Can we create site templates in SharePoint Online modern sites?
  8. Which one we should use to develop master pages? Design manager or SharePoint designer 2013?
  9. How to move the workflows from SharePoint on-premise to SharePoint Online?
  10. What is the best way to change the logo of a site collection (in all sites and nested subsites)?

SharePoint Customization Examples

If you will take a few examples of SharePoint customization, then those will be like master pages, style sheets, web part customizations, creating custom workflows using SharePoint designer, visual studio or Power automate, customizing list forms using InfoPath or PowerApps, etc.

Here are a few links that you can check out:

In this SharePoint tutorial, we discussed about SharePoint customization and the below topics:

  • What is SharePoint customization?
  • SharePoint Customization Options
  • Customization in SharePoint Online
  • SharePoint Modern Site Customization
  • SharePoint Site Customization
  • SharePoint Customization Best Practices
  • SharePoint Customization Interview Questions
  • SharePoint Customization Examples
  • zero code sharepoint customization