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I have been commissioned for a project to build a website using SharePoint. I am a Front-end, WP developer and designer by trade, have access to companies Office365 SharePoint online, but have little to no experience in Sharepoint Platform.

The project itself is a simple content site with minimum functionality, a glorified online brochure. I've done a bit of research on MSDN but want a bit of field insight.

  1. Is it possible to create a fully baked website within SharePoint?
  2. What would be the best approach for developing a website within SharePoint?
  3. Would I need to learn new frameworks and languages such as ASP.NET MVC, C#, etc. to accomplish this project or can I still utilize Front-End languages like HTML, CSS, JS, etc within the platform?
  4. Any materials, documentation, tutorials, etc you recommend to help accomplish this project?
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I've been in the same boat as you for a little over two months: Commissioned to make a full website on SharePoint. For the longest time, I tried to work within SharePoint by developing SharePoint add-ins and trying to utilize the built in stuff. What I finally realized about a month in is that the best way I could go about accomplishing my task was to simply hide all the default SharePoint things, and build the page straight-up with HTML/CS/JS. Now it's all with Angular.js. The only thing left from SharePoint on my site is now the O365 ribbon at the top of the page, you wouldn't even know it's a SharePoint site without it. If you're using SharePoint online (O365), you will not be able to run any server side code (which is C#). The only SharePoint features I use whatsoever is the CSOM which is a Javascript way of interacting with SharePoint and lets me do things like store/retrieve things from SharePoint lists in Javascript.

To answer your points:

  1. Yes, straight up edit the .aspx pages and use HTML like you would with any other site. SharePoint designer likes to throw a fit and say you can't use certain elements (I turned off this feature) but it's not true you can use any you'd like.

  2. If it's a full fledged site that isn't well suited to utilizing SharePoint's out of the box features, which I think is your case as it is mine, then like I said just hide all the default SharePoint stuff in CSS and then create your website from the ground up.

  3. There is no reason at all to learn any new frameworks if you already know enough HTML/CSS/JS to build websites effectively.

  4. I don't think you'll have a problem finding the right docs since you're experienced in JS, CSS, HTML!

Also know that SharePoint designer is one finicky son-of-a-gun and exhibits all kinds of weird behavior that doesn't make sense, but for the most part it works pretty well and you can easily and instantly save changes to any of your code and it will upload it to your website.

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It is most definitely POSSIBLE to create a full site from within SharePoint, but it isn't a straightforward endeavor. You'll want to learn about master pages and page layouts, and be VERY comfortable with CSS.

There is a lot that can be done on the back end with C# or other .Net languages, but I doubt that will be necessary for what you're trying to build.

As a basic start, I'd suggest designing your UI first. Then look at the out of the box SharePoint interface and map components (navigation, site headers, etc.), and then come back here for help mapping individual components that might not be clear. For the straightforward stuff, CSS customizations should be sufficient.

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