SharePoint: Summer Feature Enhancements

Since the May SharePoint Conference 2019, it can be assumed that the many great minds and the many talented people at Microsoft have been working diligently to ensure the rollout of the many new features and additions that were announced. Add summer vacations, and these two reasons might explain why it is so quiet on the news and announcements front.

Even so, I have a few features that have quietly been rolled out. The first of these is the increase of the SharePoint hubs limit which has been raised from 100 to 2,000! This is a significant increase and allows greater flexibility in the organizing of sites for an organization. The ability to connect even more related hubs together provides the ability to create shared content and provide shared navigational experiences across these hubs for uniformity across the organization.

Analytics. It is one of those buzzwords that everyone mentions and talks about. As a SharePoint Online site owner, you have access to review analytics that reflect user interactions on your site. Analytical data on the usage of the site includes the number of users who visit your site, a list of files that are viewed the most, and the number of times that the site has been visited by users. Accessing this information can be done by clicking the Settings gear, and then accessing Site Usage by clicking on it. An alternative is to navigate by choosing the Site Contents menu on the left-hand side and then clicking Site Usage located at the top navigation bar. Analytical data will include:

1. Unique Viewers: this shows the number of unique views in the past 7, 30, and 90 days, and a running Lifetime total of unique viewers who have viewed the site content which includes pages, documents, and news;

2. Site Visits: an algorithm calculates the total number of site visits in the last 7, 30, and 90 days, and provides a running Lifetime total of site visits by the users to view content. Site content includes pages, documents, and news. The algorithm is designed to exclude repetitive and continual operations by the same user on the same item by filtering out these actions. Refreshing a page, document, or news post can be considered as repetitive and continual operations by the user;

3. Site Traffic: this is a graphical representation of visits per hour to the site for the last 7, 30, and 90 days. The hourly trend is colour shaded with darker shading correlating to more views on that content for that time slot;

4. Popular Platforms: this is a visual representation of the platform that the user visited from (desktop, mobile app, mobile web, tablet) to the sites’ content. The data includes the last 7, 30, and 90 days. This information is obtained through metadata, the user agent header, that is received whenever a user visits a site;

5. Most Unique Views: this displays the top 10 files and pages with the most unique viewers for the past 7 days;

6. Most Viewed: this displays the top 10 files and pages with the most views in the last 7 days; and

7. Shared with External Users: this displays a list of files that you have access to that are shared with external users who are not internal to your organization. These files are shared via a link that requires them to log in in order to view the file.

There was a reminder of the importance of monitoring SharePoint Online page performance as more content and features are used to build pages, and if caution and prevention are not practiced, then loading of the pages can become excruciatingly slow. To monitor and manage this, the Turn SharePoint Online Performance article has many concepts to aid in managing this to maintain optimum loading speeds.

Though these are not all new features, these features bring greater flexibility, versatility, and information on usage and performance review. With analytics, it will become easier to manage site content that is not receiving high hit rates, pages that do not retain and engage the user. With this data, improvements can be made to stimulate user engagement, increase site visits, and provide more relevant content.  

Though summer has been quiet with announcements, we can rest assured that many more features will be rolled out in the coming months.