One of my customer wants to use SharePoint as an intranet communication portal. My customer wants to customize the look & feel of the application and he has requested to a web design agency the design of the application.

We, as integrator of the solution, have to "drive" the web designers who have no knowledge of sharepoint.

Do you have any recommendation about this collaboration ? Is there any guide not destined to developers but to web designers to help understanding the sharepoint ergonomy ? What are common mistakes I have to avoid ?

thx for your feedback

2 Answers 2


Here are my 2 cents:

  1. Make sure SharePoint still looks and feels like SharePoint. Don't mess about with default font sizes. Even if SharePoint deals with it well, your third party add-ins may not.

  2. Try to limit them to just change the colour scheme to whatever the company uses, a customised top (header) area and an optional footer.

  3. Don't go nuts, you'll pay the price.

  4. Control changes via the master page / CSS only.

  5. Deploy the new master page via a feature that can be enabled / disabled.

  6. No customisations via SharePoint Designer.

These guidelines have been implemented successfully for the rebranding of a very large London based financial institution.

  • @Muhimbi: can you explain a bit the 6th rule ?
    – Steve B
    Mar 11, 2011 at 12:08
  • He means any customizations should be created in Visual Studio, packaged as features, and deployed that way. Mar 11, 2011 at 13:01
  • With the 6th rule I mean that you shouldn't try to 'faf around' with the master page, or any other page, in SharePoint Designer to achieve custom branding. If you have to use SPD for other, non branding related, legitimate purposes then that is fine. Mar 11, 2011 at 20:45
  • @Muhimbi, if I understand what you mean correctly, I cannot use the new "export site definition" feature of SPD 2010 ? I known this rule for SPD 2007, but I thought this was not still the case for SPD 2010. Am I right to think that the workflow can be the following : customize the pages in SPD in a design site, then copy/paste the work in a VS solution package ? in any case thx for the advices :)
    – Steve B
    Mar 14, 2011 at 8:31
  • I don't know. That project was SP2007 based. I think the advice remains the same on SP2010, but have no specific branding experience with that. Mar 14, 2011 at 9:22
  1. Everything that Muhimbi said.

  2. Make sure that they're aware that SharePoint is a .NET application, not a HTML website. You can only get so far with customizing the look & feel of SharePoint if you're a front-end designer with HTML & CSS knowledge. You will probably need the assistance of a .NET developer.

  3. Have them review Heather Solomon's blog. Bookmark it and refer to it often. It's one of the best resources that I know of. http://www.heathersolomon.com/blog/

  4. Other great resources for customizations (not just the CSS) are Marc Anderson's blog http://sympmarc.com/ and https://www.nothingbutsharepoint.com/

  5. To avoid blowing things up in the production environment, build a development environment. Or, insist that the web designers have their own VMs running the same version of SharePoint as the production environment and require that they perform their development there. You would be amazed at how easily you can break things with a simple typo, or by making "logical assumptions" on how to implement something that you don't entirely understand with SharePoint.

Good luck!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.