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I have a client who's interested in using Sharepoint's (2010) CMS capabilities for their public facing site. Although the specification is not yet complete a few things are clear:

  • Content administrators want a relationally simple interface.
  • Publishing workflows and CMS permissions are required.
  • There will be multiple content types.
  • Ongoing development/maintenance would be done by an in-house team.
  • All the nice CMS nice-to-haves are required out-of-the-box.

If you wanted a view on how complex the front might be you could use http://www.sonycentre.com.au/ as a rough indication of how 'glossy' and component based the site might be.

We will not be using Sharepoint in a collaboration or document repository capacity.

I wondering if anyone might be able to comment on using Sharepoint in this capacity or would be able to steer me in the direction of resources which might be of use.

Thanks, @rrfive

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Suggest this be put as community wiki, answers will be very subjective I think. –  James Love Oct 27 '11 at 8:31
    
ferrari.com use sharepoint as CMS –  MishaU Oct 27 '11 at 10:42
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5 Answers 5

From a development/branding perspective, it's not that difficult to create a SharePoint site that looks like the Sony Centre's page that you linked to. There are clearly defined zones which I can immediately see as web parts and navigation controls.

When developed correctly, SharePoint as a CMS can work extremely well, but there are caveats which only an extremely seasoned SharePoint developer will be able to cope with (as per the link lmw posted).

Those caveats (or the cost of a suitably experienced developer), coupled with the licensing cost can often put many organisations off using SharePoint solely as a CMS. If you are integrating it with other systems, though, then it may pay off.

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It is indeed a good idea since the SharePoint 2010 allows for almost unlimited customizations and features. BUT there is a price - in dollars - internet facing site, comparing to other CMS systems available on the market is expensive. The alternative is Office365 and SharePoint Online, where you have relatively no-cost internet-facing simple CMS site - you may want to consider moving this site to the cloud to cut costs.

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I have done numerous SharePoint CMS sites (Intranet, Extranet and Internet) and it has worked out very well on all counts. If you are looking for more examples, check out TopSharePoint as they maintain an ever growing list of public sites that use SharePoint (which almost always means SharePoint CMS)

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Sharepoint can of course be used for branding sites. It can accomplish all of your requirements. However, so can every other commercial or open source .net CMS. And they can do it cheaper, better, and faster.

The development model is better than the past, but is still pretty dreadful. You will beat your head against the wall trying to accomplish something simple - like dealing with their automatic mobile rendering (seems broken for public websites and has to be disabled) or creating a 404 page that works for .net and non .net extensions. These are just a few quick examples.

Your website will also have a bunch of cruft with it that is very difficult to turn off. The page weight will be heavy. Public users don't need to have all the js libraries included for editing in place, but turning them off requires jumping through hoops. I never have sorted it out without js errors remaining. If you want tight control over markup, and clean markup, then you won't like Sharepoint.

If your client plans on using Sharepoint for an intranet/extranet as well, and wants their team on one platform, then perhaps it can be justified. Otherwise, I'd avoid it.

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The simple answer is yes. As James and others pointed out, there is some dependencies on having the right talent to make it happen, but SharePoint is a very solid platform for those types of projects. Ferrari.com, VolvoCars.com, Energizer.com, Treasury.gov, etc. are all built on SharePoint. http://www.wssdemo.com/livepivot/ also has a repository of public facing SharePoint sites.

From the ability to brand almost endlessly, and extend SharePoint functionality in almost any direction, SharePoint is certainly a solid platform for these types of projects. Development can be expensive, and finding the right talent can be a challenge, but the platform is more than capable.

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