Public Website FAQ

If you have questions about the Public Website in Office 365, you’re not alone. Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Note   The SharePoint Online Public Website information in this article applies only if your organization purchased Office 365 prior to March 9, 2015. If you purchased Office 365 after March 9, 2015, use an Office 365 website hosting partner.

In this article

Get started

What is the Office 365 Public Website?

How does it compare to an Internet Publishing Site in SharePoint Server 2013?

How do I use my own domain name?

I already have a website. Can I move it to Office 365? Do I have to?

Can I remove my public website?

Designing and editing

How do I get my public website so that I can edit it?

What tool should I use to design my public website? Can I use SharePoint Designer?

How do I add a photo slideshow?

How do I add a contact us form?

How do I add a menu, catalog, or coupons that people can download and print?

Where are the Web Parts like RSS feed viewer? How do I add them to a public website page?

Upgrades

Why do I have two websites?

How do I upgrade my public website to the latest version?

Where can I find out more?

Get started

What is the Office 365 Public Website?

The Public Website in Office 365 is where you can create a professional online presence for your small or midsize business or organization. If you have much larger or complex website needs, such as web content management, multilingual sites, or online commerce, you should consider an Internet Publishing Site in SharePoint Server. Learn more about the differences between websites in SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server or Get started with the Public Website.

How does it compare to an Internet Publishing Site in SharePoint Server 2013?

The Public Website is ideal for small and midsize businesses because it contains simple design tools to create and maintain a website on the Internet. The Internet Publishing Site in SharePoint Server 2013 is tailored to larger organizations that need robust, enterprise-scale sites with web content management, commerce capabilities, multilingual variations, line of business integration, and much more. See the website feature comparison.

How do I use my own domain name?

There are several steps to adding a custom domain to your public website. Get started by verifying your domain ownership in Office 365.

I already have a website. Can I move it to Office 365? Do I have to?

You can keep your website where it is, or move it.

To keep it where it is, depending on how you set up your domain with Office 365, you may need to take a few extra steps to make sure people can still get to your website.

How you move a website to Office 365 depends on its structure:

  • If your existing website uses plain HTML, you can use Design Manager to upload and manage your design files. If you’re not savvy with SharePoint or web page development, you may want to find someone that can do this work for you. You can easily give an external designer access to work on your Office 365 Public Website.

  • If your website is highly customized and uses code like Java or PHP, you must redesign your pages to work on SharePoint.

Can I remove my public website?

The word “remove” can mean different things. What are you trying to do?

I edited my public website, and I want to reset it to the default to start again.

Follow the steps in Reset your public website to the default version.

I want to take my public website offline so no one outside my organization can see it.

Follow the steps in Make your public website online or offline to take your website offline.

I’ve never used my public website, and don’t plan to, so I want to remove it from the Sites tab so that no one inside my organization sees it.

  1. Go to Sites > Manage the promoted sites below.

  2. Click the Public Site tile.

  3. Click Remove link.

If you may also be able to do the following:

  1. Go to Admin > SharePoint > User Profiles.

  2. In the My Site Settings section, click Manage Promoted Sites.

  3. Select the link to your public website, and then click Delete Link.

I’m switching from the Office 365 public website to a website hosted somewhere else, and I need to take it offline and point my DNS records to a different location.

  1. Follow the steps in Make your public website online or offline to take your Office 365 public website offline.

  2. If you have a custom domain set up to point to your Office 365 public website, and you manage your own DNS records, remove the CNAME record that points to your Office 365 public website or point it to your website in a different location. See the step-by-step instructions for creating DNS records at your DNS hosting provider.

  3. If you have a custom domain and Office 365 manages your DNS records, follow the instructions in Update DNS records to keep your website with your current hosting provider.

I want to delete the public website site collection.

If you’re using Office 365 Enterprise or Office 365 Midsize Business, you can delete your Office 365 public website site collection. This removes all files for the Website site collection. To avoid confusion, also remove the tile from the Sites tab.

If you’re using Office 365 Small Business, you can’t delete the public website site collection. You may want to edit the default pages to say that they are not used, in case someone in your organization gets to them by mistake.

Designing and editing

How do I get my public website so that I can edit it?

If you are new to Office 365 or have upgraded your Public Website to the latest version, you can go to the Sites page, and click on the Public site tile. If you’re prompted to sign in, enter your Office 365 user name and password.

Public site tile selected

Don’t see the Browse, Page and Site options on the top of the page when you go to your public website? Add \pages to the end of your website address (URL). For example, if your site is https://contoso-public.sharepoint.com, then change it to this:

https://contoso-public.sharepoint.com/pages

Public website URL with "/pages" added

If you’ve been with Office 365 awhile and want to edit the pre-upgrade version of the Public Website, the editable version of the site is a bit harder to get to. See the step by step instructions for a small business account or a Midsize or Enterprise account.

What tool should I use to design my public website? Can I use SharePoint Designer?

Use the Public Website editor or use one of the popular web design tools or your favorite HTML editor to create your design and then upload your files by using Design Manager. The Public Website editor is the easiest tool to use to customize the site. It provides website themes and looks you can pick from. You can change the backgrounds, colors and fonts, add a custom logo, edit the CSS and more. If you’re a web designer or very comfortable with website design tools or HTML editors, you can use Design Manager to create a new design. With Design Manager, you can use popular web design tools or HTML editors you’re familiar with and upload them to the Public Website.

You can use SharePoint Designer, but we don’t recommend it. Some things that you can do in SharePoint Designer like create subsites are not supported for the Public Website in Office 365 and may not work. Instead, we recommend that you use the Public Website editor to customize the site or, if you’re a web designer and want to create a completely new design, use Design Manager.

How do I add a photo slideshow?

You can use the Picture Library Slideshow Web Part or create a slide show by embedding a PowerPoint presentation. If you don’t like those options, search the SharePoint Store for a slide show application. To do this, click Settings SharePoint Online Public Website Settings button > Add an app > SharePoint Store > Public-facing Websites and search for slide show.

How do I add a contact us form?

To do this,

  1. Add the free Contact Us Form app to your website by adding the app from the SharePoint Store.

  2. Add a Contact Us Form app to your web page by inserting the Contact Us Form App Part.

  3. Customize the form questions and confirmation page.

How do I add a menu, catalog, or coupons that people can download and print?

For content that you have in a PDF file, the steps to do this may seem a little out of order but the fastest way is to add the file to the Site Assets folder while you are creating a link on the web page. To do this, follow the steps in Add content that people can download or print.

If your content is in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint or in a text, or image file format, you can have the content open in the browser.

Be sure to test the links you’ve created to make sure your customers can access the content you’ve added.

Where are the Web Parts like RSS feed viewer? How do I add them to a public website page?

Not all the Web Parts available for the Office 365 Team site are available to add to the Public Website like RSS Viewer or Tag Cloud. To see what ones you can add to a public website page, from the Page tab, choose Edit, select the Insert tab and choose Web Part. If you don't see the Web Part you want to use, go to the SharePoint Store to find one to add.

Upgrades

Why do I have two websites?

If you’ve been with Office 365 awhile, when you go to the Sites page in Office 365, you may have tiles for Public site and New public site.

Public site and New public site tiles

Public site is your existing, or pre-upgrade, website. New public site is the new version of the website available after you upgraded to the latest version of SharePoint Online and Office 365. You can keep and use both sites and share them publicly. But only one public website can be associated with your custom domain. For more information, see Work with your two Office 365 public websites.

How do I upgrade my public website to the latest version?

Before you can upgrade your public website, upgrade your SharePoint sites (team site, website, etc.) to the latest version of SharePoint. You do this by choosing Start now when prompted in the pink header bar. Once you’re done with that, watch the video and then follow these steps to upgrade your public website:

  1. Get the existing site ready for upgrade. Make sure all pages on the site are checked in.

  2. Install the migration app on the new website. This is a free app in the SharePoint Store, provided by Microsoft.

  3. Run the migration app. To do this, open the migration app on the new website and follow the steps to install the app on the existing website, configure the app on the new website, and migrate content from your existing website to the new website.

  4. Customize your new website. Go to the new website, see how it looks, and start customizing it to your liking. You may want to change the look, use different colors and layouts, and add new features or apps.

  5. Make the website public and change its web address. When you’re finished fine-tuning the new website, you’re ready to make it public on the Internet and change its web address so it uses your custom domain name.

Where can I find out more?

Find more answers in Public Website help for Office 365.

If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, go to the Office 365 Community.

Applies To: SharePoint Online, Office 365 Admin, Office 2013, SharePoint Admin center



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