While it is well-known that Microsoft SharePoint is a superb system for content management and workforce collaboration as an extranet and intranet, what is less well-recognised is that SharePoint also stacks up well as a platform for the creation of public-facing websites. Microsoft’s recent licensing changes enable your SharePoint implementation to now go even further with the capability to create affordable, functional, and visually attractive and easy-to-navigate public websites.
One of the decisions Microsoft made with SharePoint 2013 was to change its licensing model to allow those with an enterprise SharePoint licence to grant external access and publish their website for free, included in their license cost. Previously, organisations typically had to spend up big for extra licenses to host their public facing websites.
But it’s not only financial considerations that are making SharePoint 2013 an attractive alternative to a traditional website Content Management System (CMS). Anyone with any basic Microsoft administrative skills can set it up and manage the website. And with the new and improved content authoring, content can be managed on the fly, by any staff member with permissions, all within an interface that mimics Microsoft Word. However not only can you easily edit and publish content to your website, but content needn’t be duplicated across your intranet and CMS. Store your content in the one place and make content creation a more collaborative task.
The out-of-the-box SEO support within SharePoint 2013 has helped make this product particularly appealing for novice webmasters. Not only does SharePoint 2013 enable the optimisation of public websites for indexing by search engines, it makes the process of achieving that fairly straightforward. Features such as metadata navigation, which provides the ability to apply friendly URLs to pages, place the task back in the hands of the business user rather than being dependent on a web developer. With this function you will be able maximise the impact of your SEO and in so doing, maximise your investment in your SharePoint-based public website.
The SharePoint 2013 features I have discussed here all came into play with a project we at Professional Advantage recently undertook with BPA Print Management. BPA had already been using SharePoint as its intranet and extranet platform and were attracted to the idea of leveraging the team’s familiarity with SharePoint to create a new public-facing website for the company. BPA’s existing content management system was largely regarded as clunky, slow to work on, difficult to edit and not very user-intuitive, so the time was ripe to seek a viable alternative. For BPA’s upper management the move to a SharePoint-driven public website held strong appeal partly because of the cost savings that could potentially be gained by capitalising on technology the business already owned and existing in-house SharePoint content management skills.
From a technical, human resources and budgetary standpoint BPA’s SharePoint solution truly delivered. Working alongside Professional Advantage’s SharePoint consultants, BPA’s website developers and authors were soon able to apply their existing SharePoint knowledge to the creation of the public website. “The best bit was that we were able to reach the ‘go live’ phase within three largely trouble free weeks.”
The SharePoint-based website has proven to deliver effective and fast outcomes for the BPA team. The platform’s WYSIWYG SEO support has enabled the team to significantly improve their Google rankings. Within the three months of going live, the website is now ranking among the top 4 search terms consistently for their primary targeted terms, often a significant challenge for a newly launched website.
If your organisation is already equipped and familiar with SharePoint 2013, the BPA project shows that it can be well worth considering SharePoint as your public website platform. And for organisations that are considering deploying SharePoint for other purposes, this additional capability should definitely be taken into account when making that choice.
Interested to see the new site? Check it out here.