Websites in SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server

The Public Website in SharePoint Online – which is part of Office 365 – can be used to quickly and easily create a professional online presence for your business or organization. The website is ideal for small and midsize businesses because it contains simple design tools to create and maintain a website on the Internet. If, on the other hand, 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.

This article describes the Public Website in SharePoint Online and compares it to an Internet Publishing Site in SharePoint Server 2013 to help you understand the differences and choose the right platform for your business or organization.

In this article

What is the Public Website

What’s new in the Public Website

SharePoint Server Internet Publishing Site

Website feature comparison

Businesses that use the Public Website

Businesses that use Internet Publishing Sites

Learn more

What is the Public Website

The Public Website in SharePoint Online is a hosted site that can be customized using just a web browser. Once you sign into Office 365, you can immediately add and edit pages, change the site theme, optimize the site for SEO, add social media apps, and much more. You can even use advanced site design features like Design Manager to create a custom design from scratch. When finished, you can make the website public and then add a custom domain name (for example, contosobistro.com). It’s a great way to quickly and easily create a website without having to know how to edit HTML, upload pages, or build website features. See Get started with the Public Website.

If you look at the Office 365 service, you’ll see Public Website listed as one of the available features, along with hosted email, file sharing, web and mobile apps, and more. The public website is a SharePoint Online site collection and it’s available in most Office 365 plans. See Compare Office 365 for business plans.

Learn more about what you can do in Public Website help for Office 365.

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What’s new in the Public Website

The Public Website in Office 365 includes several new features that help you create a professional website for your business or organization.

Feature

Description

Design features

New website customization options, including a new Site tab, composed looks, social media, website blog, publishing features, Design Manager, and much more.

Management features

New site management features to manage permissions, storage, SEO, search reports, design galleries, make the website public, change its web address, and more.

App marketplace

Browse, install, and manage the use of apps from the SharePoint Marketplace.

Friendly URLs

Friendly URLs are now applied to the web pages on the Public Website. For example, the Contact Us page might look like www.website.com/contact-us/

Search Engine Optimization

Using new SEO features, you can improve the appearance and ranking of your public website in search engines like Bing and Google.

Domain names

Using the new domain features in Office 365, you can add, update, and remove custom domain names applied to the Public Website.

Learn more about upgrading an existing public website to the latest website in Upgrade your public website.

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SharePoint Server Internet Publishing Site

In addition to the SharePoint Online Public Website, there’s another SharePoint-based website option tailored to larger businesses and organizations. It’s called an Internet Publishing Site, and you create this using SharePoint Server 2013. This type of site is suited to larger organizations that need robust, enterprise-scale sites with web content management, commerce capabilities, multilingual variations, line of business integration, and much more. Learn more in Internet, intranet, and extranet publishing sites in SharePoint Server 2013.

An Internet Publishing Site is not currently available in SharePoint Online. You need to build this type of site in SharePoint Server 2013 in an on-premises deployment. If you want to host the site in the cloud, you might consider hosting the SharePoint deployment in Microsoft Azure as described in SharePoint 2013 on Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services.

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Website feature comparison

There are numerous differences between the Public Website in SharePoint Online, and the Internet Publishing Site in SharePoint Server. For starters, the Public Website offers a fast, simple, browser-based website that you can build in minutes, which is ideal for small to medium businesses. SharePoint Server Internet Publishing Sites offer a much larger, scalable, and dynamic website built with SharePoint’s Publishing Infrastructure, which is ideal for larger organizations and enterprises. Here’s a sampling of the features you will find in each offering.

Feature name

SharePoint Online Website

SharePoint Server Internet

Feature summary

Browser-based page editing

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Create and edit web pages using just a web browser

Publishing pages

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Use SharePoint publishing pages with drafts, revisions, and so on

Master pages and layouts

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Access to master pages and publishing page layouts

Design Manager

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Advanced web design tools used to create, customize websites. (See note.)

Composed looks

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Gallery of themes that can be applied and then modified for the website

Term-based navigation

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Website navigation is based on SharePoint term sets

Friendly URLs

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Easy to read URLs that describe the page (like website.com/contact-us)

Image renditions

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Render an image in different ways based on image templates

SEO settings

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Optimize the site’s appearance in public search engine results

Hosted online

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Website is online, in the cloud at all times, no uploading required

Public website features

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More themes, site features, social media, embedded CSS, and so on

Marketplace apps

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Ability to browse and install website apps from the SharePoint Marketplace

Site address, domain tools

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Online tools to manage your website address (URL) and domain names

External sharing

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Ability to securely share the site with external reviewers and designers

Publishing templates

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Site templates you can use to create a new Internet-facing website

Subsites, site hierarchies

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Ability to create hierarchies of subsites that make up the website

Content types, columns, fields

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Reusable collections of metadata for categories of items or documents.

Search features

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Customizable search with query rules, result sources, and result types

List and library Web Parts

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Ability to add list or library Web Parts to a page with custom views

Content Search Web Part

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Displays content based on a query to the SharePoint search index

Content Query Web Part

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Displays content based on a query to the SharePoint database

Cross-site publishing

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Supports multiple site collections with content reuse and delivery

Variations, translations

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Syncs content from a source location to other locations by audience

Catalog pages

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Renders search-based catalog content on publishing pages

Business Connectivity Services

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Integrate external data sources and services into the site

Publishing workflows

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Create and customize workflows that controls when content is published

Analytics processing, recommendations

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Add and configure personal usage events and generate reports from it

Learn more about the Content Query Web Part and the Content Search Web Part in SharePoint.

Notes    The Public Website Web Part gallery contains less Web Parts than the Internet Publishing Site Web Part gallery in SharePoint Server. Any Web Part not listed in the Public Website Web Part gallery is considered unsupported for the Public Website.

Also there are some differences with the Design Manager feature. In the SharePoint Online Public Website, you can additionally create themes and previews. In SharePoint Server Internet Publishing Sites, you can additionally create display templates, device channels, and design packages.

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Businesses that use the Public Website

Here’s a sampling of the types of businesses that might choose the SharePoint Online Public Website along with examples of how they might use the website for their business.

Type of business

Use of the website

Retail store

Promote the business and introduce products, provide hours of operation and contact information, include social media, add retail-related apps.

Restaurant

Promote the business, provide lunch and dinner menu, provide hours, special accommodations, and add restaurant-related apps.

Law office

Promote the business, describe previous cases, testimonials, schedule consultations, integrate with customer data on the Team sites, and add legal-related apps.

Medical office

Introduce physicians and specialties, physician credentials, appointment hours, and printable forms for first time patients, display contact information, and medical-related apps.

Realtor

Promote the realtor and the business, show gallery of homes, show listings from associated real estate service, provide contact information with phone, and add housing-related apps.

Consultant

Describe and promote the business, services provided, customer testimonials, contact information, links to Team site documents, and add IT-related apps

Learn more about small businesses using Office 365 in Office 365 customer stories.

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Businesses that use Internet Publishing Sites

Here’s a sampling of the types of businesses that might choose SharePoint Server Internet Publishing Sites.

Type of business

Use of the website

Online retail

Use cross-site collection publishing to author and publish the site, use a product catalog to sell inventory, and integrate with commerce and secure checkout.

Government

Use cross-site collection publishing to publish content, use content types and site columns to structure content, provide secure access to parts of the site, offer English and Spanish views.

Banking

Use cross-site collection publishing to publish page content and list data, render pages in several languages, secured customer access, and integration with market systems.

Energy

Use site hierarchies, content types, and columns to organize content, custom terms used in dynamic site navigation, content search web parts, and secure shareholder access.

University

Use multiple sites and site collections with secured access for teachers and students, integrate with partner education services, and provide class registration.

Manufacturing

Present large numbers of publishing pages and product pages with partner access to the sites, make it available in several languages.

Learn more about large businesses using SharePoint in SharePoint customer stories.

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Learn more

The Public Website is an example of a feature area that is significantly different between SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server on-premises. There are other differences as well between the two products though not as significant as the Public Website. To learn more about the differences between SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server, see Compare SharePoint Plans.

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Applies To: SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise, SharePoint Online, SharePoint Online Website



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