A dynamic website built on Office 365

I mentioned it on twitter a couple weeks ago, Bradshaw & Weil has launched its new public website based on Office 365: http://www.bradshawweil.com

In an article last year, I expressed my frustration with the current Office 365 public sites, for which building dynamic pages requires more effort than it should. Well, it doesn’t mean that it cannot be done, and Bradshaw & Weil is one of these sites that take advantage of both the traditional list management capabilities of SharePoint and the features specific to Office 365.

The site content is managed by the site admins in SharePoint lists. For example, when you open Topics.aspx?Menu=For%20Individuals SharePoint will filter the Topics list to only display the topics tagged “For Individuals”. Topics.aspx?Menu=For%20Individuals&Topic=Motorcycle%20Insurance will only display the information related to motorcycle insurance, and will pull from the Insurance Carriers library only the logos of the carriers that offer this specific service. Thanks to the dynamic behavior and the use of querystrings in the URL (“Menu” and “Topic”), a single page handles all the topics, where with a static site 20 pages would be needed. And if a new topic gets added to the Topics library, this will automatically create a new entry in the menu.

Besides content management, the site gets all the benefits from working with Office 365. The business users have a convenient interface, the Site Design tool, to customize the header, footer and layout of the pages, without having to call a SharePoint consultant for every minor change. And the gadgets allow them to include convenient features like contact forms that would be hard to implement on a regular SharePoint site.

The site also gets help from jQuery. Note in particular:

All these plugins pull content from SharePoint lists and libraries (menu items, images, logos, phone numbers, website links). Here again, no need to call the designer every time a logo gets added or a phone number changes!

For this project, I worked directly with Jared Morgan, vice president. This was a great experience, as the company has been using SharePoint for several years, and Jared knew exactly what to aim for.

As you explore the site, feel free to post your comments or questions below, and Jared and I will be happy to post additional details.

And if your company is interested in a test drive of Office 365, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to send you an invitation for a free trial.

9 thoughts on “A dynamic website built on Office 365

  1. Excellent work and very encouraging, thanks for passing that along. I still prefer on-premise SharePoint but glad to see an example of how far SharePoint Online can be stretched with Office 365.

  2. Congrats on your successful project and for having your work featured in a Microsoft case study! The jQuery plugins are great too!

  3. i would like to know more details about how this website is build…i mean the dynamic side of it…cause it’s what i need for my website but just can’t figure it out…

    • I know, it’s not easy. The trick was to use RSS feeds to collect the list content. I’ll try to write a more detailed post to explain it.

  4. Achieving a public facing site like Bradshaw & Weil doesn’t need to be any more a time consuming and expensive task. With Bind Tuning themes for Office 365 you can achieve fabulous results in just a few clicks, the themes are compatible with 2010 and 2013 versions of the office 365.

    • @Joao: I think you missed the point. You are just addressing theming, while the challenging part is to display content populated from SharePoint lists.

  5. Hi fabulous work,its look impossible to me to create a dynamic page in office 365 environment your this article is like a ray of hope for me can you provide some coding part so that I can use it in my project. I am using office 365 a/c and SharePoint designer 2013.
    Thx in advance.

  6. Question about the Nivo Slider. We recently stood up a site on O365 with the slider and we cant change the pauseTime with the Edit Snippet function. No matter what I change it to, the slide pause does not change. Any advice?

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