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Lots of suggestions I'm reading for custom branding in SP2013 suggest editing the master page, but I've been given direction that this is not recommended.

Can someone confirm why this is not a good approach for a large company with thousands of sites and pages?

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To reduce the complexity of Master Pages creation, SharePoint introduce Design Manager in 2013. With the help of design manager you don't have to worry about all the SharePoint complex tags. It provides you the ease of creating a master page using basic web technologies i.e. HTML, CSS and JS. Design manager creates a HTML file which will be directly linked to master page (i.e. .master file). Every time you want to update design, update the HTML file and it will automatically update .master file. Also, the design manager offers code Snippets for SharePoint components like, a search box, navigation, site title, logo and so on. One thing which i figured out is, since Master Page runs on server side, due to bad programming, they are capable of damaging the server. On the other hand, master page designed using design manager use pure client side technologies and convert them to a master page. So if developer breaks something on HTML file, the .master file contains nothing except, conversion unsuccessful exception, which ultimately prevents the server.

To read on more above Design Manager kindly follow the link.

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Well It depends entirely on the sort of customization you're doing - and the aim of the SharePoint solution.

Pros:

  • Fairly obvious, you've got your own branding on the site rather than the default OOB.
  • Depending on who you ask this can help provide corporate identity, make people more productive as the interface may be more familiar, and many more design-related aspects.

Cons:

  • Vary a little more.
  • SharePoint customization can be a little quirky, and it's easy to accidentally break functionality with more dramatic customization.
  • Upgrades may cause other problems, though I've never had that happen.
  • The final problem, and biggest I've encountered, is that once people realize how much the interface can be customized they tend to ask for more and more specific changes. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends largely on whether you have the time to make several hundred little tweaks on individual site collections.

Overall I'd say branding is definitely worthwhile, and very unlikely to cause problems. Major changes to master pages need to be more carefully considered and should have a very strong justification before going ahead.

Reference by James Bore

For larger organization, its up-to them how actually they want. For them it's like they have multiple sites collection, sites etc with different kind of UI. so they have to invest more to customize all the site collections, sites, pages etc. so they prefer out of the box UI.

In my career I have customized so many masterpages, It was always challenging.

The way it gives an output is what customer wants.

So even after Microsoft doesn't recommend to customize the masterpage, I would always prefer customizing masterpage whenever its required.

Hope this brief helps you!

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