Public Website FAQ

Note: This article has done its job, and will be retiring soon. To prevent "Page not found" woes, we're removing links we know about. If you've created links to this page, please remove them, and together we'll keep the web connected.

Important: As of March 31, 2018, the SharePoint Online public website feature has been discontinued. Links that point to discontinued topics have been removed.

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. 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.

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?

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?

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.

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.

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

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. 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.

  2. 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

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. T

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.

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Where can I find out more?

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

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