Note: The SharePoint Online Public Website information in this article applies only if your organization purchased Office 365 prior to March 9, 2015. Customers who currently use this feature will continue to have access to the feature for a minimum of two years after the changeover date of March 9, 2015. New customers who subscribed to Office 365 after the changeover date don't have access to this feature. Moving forward, Office 365 customers have access to industry-leading third-party offerings that enable them to have a public website that provides a complete online solution and presence. For more information about this change, see Information about changes to the SharePoint Online Public Website feature in Office 365.
The Office 365 Public Website can be made online or offline at any time by the owner or invited designer to the site. When the website is offline, only the authenticated users can see and customize the site. During this time, anonymous users – those browsing your site from the Internet – cannot see or access the site. When the website is online, it becomes publicly available so that everyone on the Internet can see and access the site. Having the option to take the website offline is useful while initially designing the site and in some circumstances, taking the website offline in case of emergencies. Watch the video below (at 4:30) for a quick demo of making your website online. The rest of this article appears below the video.
In this article
Overview of an online or offline website
When the public website is offline, it cannot be viewed or accessed publicly on the Internet. Instead, visitors to the site will see a login screen. Only authenticated users, like the website owner, invited designers or members can view and customize the site. This is the default experience in Office 365, which is usually how you want it while designing and customizing a new site. The reason is because you don’t want a half-designed website containing placeholder or missing content to be viewed by the public, including your customers. It’s a better idea to first complete the website then make it online.
Note: Keep in mind that once the website is online, it will only be found at your default Office 365 website address, for example, http://yourcompany-public.sharepoint.com (where yourcompany is the organization name used when you created your Office 365 subscription). Your customers won’t easily recognize this as your business website. To create a custom website address, apply a custom domain name, like www.yourcompany.com (where yourcompany is your custom domain) to your website and then it will be easily found by your customers and visitors.
Once you make the website online, you’ll probably leave it that way for the life of the website. You can, of course, take the website offline at any time, which you might do when testing a new look or design or in the event you discover incorrect or misleading information on your website that could become a liability for your business. In these cases, you can simply take the website offline until you resolve the issue.
Making the public website online or offline
You can make the website online or offline at any time from the Office 365 admin console or the website editor.
Make the website online
These steps will make your website viewable by all users and devices on the Internet.
Log onto your Office 365 admin console or browse directly to your website using your default URL. (The default URL might be http://yourcompany-public.sharepoint.com or www.yourbusiness.com.)
From your public website, click Website Offline (this indicates that the website is currently offline) and choose Make Website Online.
If you get a message about Draft Pages, choose Continue if you want to publish anyway. Or, choose Cancel and publish those individual pages first as described in Publish and unpublish pages on your website.
Choose Make online and then Close when prompted.
Make the website offline
These steps will prevent your website from being viewed by anonymous users and devices on the Internet. Only authenticated access will be allowed.
Log onto your Office 365 admin console or browse directly to your website using your default URL. (The default URL might be http://yourcompany-public.sharepoint.com or www.yourbusiness.com.).
From your public website, click Website Online (this indicates that the website is currently online) and choose Make Website Offline.
Choose Make Offline and then Close when prompted.
Learn more about showing and hiding web pages
In addition to making the entire website online or offline, you can do something similar with the individual pages on your site. Instead of making them online or offline, you can publish or unpublish them. When you publish a page, you make that page viewable by other users of the website, including anonymous users (if the website is currently online). When you unpublish a page, you put the page back into a Draft state, which prevents other users of the website from seeing that page, including anonymous users (if the website is currently online).
Publishing and unpublishing pages is a convenient and more granular way to control when an individual page can be seen by everyone. Learn more in Save and publish pages on your website.