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Do you have Questions?

Have a burning SharePoint question that you are in need of an answer to?  Simply join a group of 16 SharePoint MVPs on Reddit this week.

Come Join us, ask your questions and get answers. More details are below:

Q&A with the SharePoint MVP Experts Chat On Oct 29th @1pm EST or 10am PDT

We are launching our SharePoint MVP Expert Chats again! Have questions about SharePoint 2010 or 2013? Or SharePoint Online? Office 365? Please join us October 29th at 1pm EST or 10am PDT where you can have your questions answered live! We will be using the Reddit Ask Me Anything format. This is new to us but many of Microsoft teams are using this medium now. Please create a Reddit account beforehand so you can be ready to ask questions. More information on the chat and room location will be available on Oct 29th in the SharePoint forum. Hope you can join us!
Hope you can join us!
MVP Experts Participating:
1. Andrew Connell
2. Cathy Dew
3. Doug Hemminger
4. Doug Ware
5. Eric Shupps
6. Gavin Barron
7. John Ross
8. Kris Wagner
9. Randy Drisgill
10. Sahil Malik
11. Sean McNeill
12. Shane Young
13. Spencer Harbar
14. Todd Bleeker
15. Trevor Seward
16. Wictor Wilen

Office 365 Suite Bar Branding – (Pre App Launcher)

In the last few months I have seen and heard about a new option to brand the Suite Bar. This has been a challenge ever since SharePoint 2013 came about both for On Premises and Online.

One of the most common things that I have heard from customers is how to change the colors, logo and text in the Suite bar.  In SharePoint On Premises you can use CSS and Powershell to change the colors and text.

But when you move onto SharePoint Online and Office 365 in general that became much harder to do. You could at first use CSS to simply override the Styles that are used in SharePoint Online, but with a change in the spring, that became a challenge.  Once that change came through you would need to use JavaScript injection to get your customizations into the Suite Bar.

And while that would apply to SharePoint Online, it did not apply across the entire Office 365 suite.  So switching between the various platforms and products within Office 365 would change the Suite Bar across each product.

When the announcement of Office 365 Global Suite Bar themes came across, I was initially excited about giving this a try and stopping all of my other methods for customizing the Suite Bar.

It sounds really easy to work with. Simply set the “Theme” centrally as a Global Administrator from the Office 365 Admin Portal.


In the Office 365 Admin Portal locate your Tenant Name in the top right corner. Once you select this option you will get a page to fill out the properties.


From here you can choose a logo, pick your URL for where you would want the Logo to link to; accent colors, text and link colors and other Office 365 logo colors.

As you start to change these you will see colors changing in the Suite bar. 

Let’s go through each tab in the Suite Bar and see how it changes.







Yammer – Of Course doesn’t apply




About Me:





But what about my SharePoint Sites?

Team Sites:


Publishing Sites?



Well, so there we have it, it applies in some cases, but not in the most important ones. Our SharePoint sites are the location that we need to be able to change the branding the most.  So we still need to use JavaScript to change that now in Office 365. 

Oh and don’t get too comfortable with this, as it is all changing as of today in the Office Blogs announcement of the app launcher. 

Oh well, I guess we will continue to fight the good fight since this feature has only been out in First Release tenants for a month.

Stay posted for info on the new App Launcher once I finally get my hands on it.

A busy little SharePoint Cat

Wow, 2014 has been a whirlwind so far. Between planning SharePoint Saturday Huntsville in February, SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas in March, and planning a SharePoint Saturday in Nashville just last weekend. So many great community happenings and fun things to do.

Now that I have a second to breathe I want to acknowledge all the great people who have helped me, post a link to a new presentation, and note where you might find me next.

First off, I want to thank Microsoft for honoring with the SharePoint MVP designation for another year.  With each year that I have gotten this award I try to do more and more to say thank you to the SharePoint Community.

Now for thanks to people who have helped with different SharePoint Saturday events. SharePoint Saturday Huntsville would not have been a success without Mark Rackley (@mrackley)! And a giant thank you to all our speakers and sponsors.

SharePoint Saturday Nashville would not have been a success without Daniel Glenn, Elizabeth Hutson, Jamye Few, Brian Purdes, and Nesha Lankford! It was a great first SharePoint Saturday in Nashville and we look forward to many new events there in the future. Thanks to all our speakers and sponsors!

You can find my Become Your Own Business Analyst Presentation from SharePoint Saturday Nashville here.

Next up on my SharePoint Travel list is SPTechCon in San Francisco for the Women in SharePoint Panel luncheon.  If you are headed to San Fran, make sure you say hi. I’d love to chat and meet old friends and new friends.

SharePoint Conference 2014–The User Experience Designer’s Edition

The time is almost here when thousands of SharePoint professionals from around the globe descend on Las Vegas. I am honored to be one of the speakers at this years event and am looking forward to sharing my session with you. "SPC203 – Adjust the Perspective with Responsive Designs for SharePoint”

This year at the SharePoint Conference I have put together a group of recommended sessions for anyone who is a User Experience person.  Just some recommendations and things to watch out for. As a UX person for SharePoint there are so many great sessions this year on all the hot topics we need to be prepared for.  So get ready… set…. go to:




SPC 203 – Adjust the Perspective with Responsive Designs for SharePoint Cathy Dew 3/4 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 207 – Best Practices for Information Architecture and Enterprise Search Agnes Molnar and Sezai Komur 3/5 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 215 – Tips & Tricks to make the most out of your SharePoint site and Maximize Adoption Laura Rogers and Jennifer Mason 3/5 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 226 – Content Types, Managed Metadata and You Lori Gowin 3/5 5:00 – 6:15
SPC 228 – Deliver Adaptive and personalized experiences for your SharePoint 2013 sites Ryan Sockalosky 3/5 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 229 – Designing and Applying information architecture for SharePoint and Office 365 Agnes Molnar and Israel Vega Jr. 3/5 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 247 – Successful team collaboration with Yammer & SharePoint Steve Hopkins and Agnus Florance 3/4 5:00 – 6:15
SPC 265 – 6 Proven Steps to Get the Best Out of Search in SharePoint 2013 Paul Olenick 3/5 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 285 – No-code SharePoint 2013 Solutions for Power Users Asif Rehmani and Mark Gillis 3/4 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 290 – Branding Internet Facing web sites with SharePoint in the Cloud John Ross, Randy Drisgill 3/4 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 305 – SharePoint Web Templates for on-premises and the Cloud Mirjam Van Olst 3/4 5:00 – 6:15
SPC 311 – Nationwide: Building a World-Renowned Intranet with SharePoint 2013 and Yammer Jeff Schuman 3/4 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 321 – Customizing Search Experiences with Azure Hosted Data and Bing Maps Rainer Asbach and Timo Heidschuster 3/5 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 322- SharePoint 2013 Search Display Templates and query rules Matthew McDermott 3/6 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 326 – Customizing your SharePoint sites using the SharePoint Theming Engine Jonathan Keslin and Lionel Robinson 3/4 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 332 – Overview of Yammer App Development Brian Lyttle 3/4 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 337 – Search-driven Publishing in SharePoint Online Alex Pope and Helge Solheim 3/4 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 339 – SharePoint 2013 Hybrid End-to-End Sam Hassani 3/3 2:00 – 3:15
SPC 340 – SharePoint 2013 Search Analytics Nicki Borell and Thorsten Hans 3/5 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 345 – SharePoint for any screen size: an in-depth look into building responsive web design Eric Overfield and Rita Zhang 3/4 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 351 – Trends in Designing Portals for SharePoint 2013 Kanwal Hipple and Eric Lytle 3/3 3:45 – 5:00
SPC 357 – Developing an intranet on Office 365 Eric Shupps 3/5 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 359 – E-commerce solutions with Dynamics for Retail & SharePoint 2013 Balaji Balasubramanian and Meera Mahabala 3/5 5:00 – 6:00
SPC 365 – Governing & Configuring Organizational Sites in an Enterprise Environment Sean Squires 3/5 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 378 – Make your SharePoint social in 1-2-3! Runar Olsen and Thomas Molbach 3/4 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 388 – SharePoint 2013 Powering Web Sites and Mobile Apps Waldek Mastykarz 3/5 10:45 – 12:00
SPC 390 – Creating Internet Facing Websites with SharePoint on-premises or in the cloud Todd Baginski 3/5 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 398 – WCM in SharePoint 2013 for IT Pros from 0 to Infinity Faizan Khan and Robert Cullick 3/4 3:15 – 4:30

One other big thing at SPC this year is that we are doing another SharePoint Branders Gathering for lunch on Monday. Simply meet us at the Planet Technologies booth in the Expo Hall at noon on Monday and we will all sit together at lunch.  This is a great opportunity to network with other SharePoint branders at the conference and make some great friends for the entire event.

If you would like to be included on the MySPC meeting request, simple comment on one of the Yammer networks (SPYam or SPC14) and allow Meeting Requests on your Profile and I will send you a meeting request.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you again and meeting many more people at SPC. The most important thing of SPC is to not be afraid to come up and speak to anyone, it is your chance to meet and network with any SharePointer.

Viva Las Vegas and see you all soon!

Giving Back to help the Philippines

Being a Southern girl, I understand the devastation that can come from a hurricane, but Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines last week was potentially the worst storm to ever come onshore in history.

Our friend and overall great SharePoint guy Dux Raymond Sy put together a fundraiser that has allowed many of us SharePoint Community members to give back. I have elected to donate some of my hours of free time to this endeavor to help raise money.

So please read the blog, donate and request your assistance from any of the SharePoint experts and MVPs in the list.

I for one am honored to participate in this effort and am hopeful that the number of people perished in the storm is less than originally estimated. Natural Disasters are a horrible experience because you cannot prevent them. My thoughts and prayers go out to anyone affected by the storm.

Branding Presentations of 2013

Wow, I can’t believe that this year I haven’t put out too many blog posts. It seems so strange, but I can certainly identify why. I’ve been quite the busy cat travelling for work and community.

This year I have given a bunch of presentations but wanted to highlight and post the sessions from a few of these conferences and events.

Check out each of the sessions below and learn more about SharePoint 2013 UX.

SharePoint Evolution Conference 2013

I am extremely excited to have been selected to speak at my 3rd SharePoint Evolution Conference in London in April. (Sadly if not for that Ash Cloud it would be my 4th)

This conference is one of my favorites each year and being selected as a speaker is the highlight of my winter of 2012. Many people ask me why I love this conference so much and the answer is simple.

At no other conference that I have attended is so much attention paid to the quality of speakers and sessions that are selected. Each year I am happy to not only present sessions but to attend and learn in other sessions. Not only is the content of the sessions and the caliber of speakers top notch, but this conference also takes excellent care of its attendees. Between the food, the sessions you might think that this is enough, but add to it the top notch social events. Exhibitor reception, SharePint and attendee party.

This is definitely a don’t miss event if you have any money at all in your training budget. And don’t miss out on my SharePoint 2013 branding sessions and those of Heather Waterman and Penny Coventry as well.

Don’t Look Back… Just take a Glimpse and Move Forward

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. okay not so much on the worst side. As I have spent the last few weeks reflecting on 2012 I have realized how many fantastic things happened to me during this year.

Let’s focus in on a few of my top highlights.

A New Beginning

In 2012 I decided to switch jobs and sadly decided to leave Summit 7 Systems. While it was sad to leave one job I was extremely excited to join Planet Technologies and continue to expand my horizons. At Planet I get to engage as a Technical Project Manager, Taxonomy and Governance specialist as well as using my Branding and Design skills for customers. I’m excited to continue to spread my wings and grow my knowledge with a great group of people. And to top it all off, my team is fantastic and I count myself lucky to work with some of the brightest individuals in the SharePoint Community. Miguel Wood, Clayton Cobb, Shannon Bray, Becky Isserman, are just a few of these stars who I have already learned a lot from.

Expanding Horizons

Working as one of the leaders of the Women in SharePoint group is always rewarding. Throughout 2012 this was a continued trend. I was able to participate with a large number of women and men to expand the horizons for this group. As a part of this expansion I was thrilled to participate with Women in SharePoint at both of the SharePoint Technology Conferences (SPTechCon) in both San Francisco and Boston. These luncheon events have really helped to expand the horizons of Women in SharePoint. We even got a new group in Boston formed at the Boston Conference. Our group has also gained traction within Microsoft and were featured in an internal SMSG Women newsletter. We have been really excited to expand our reach into Microsoft and at the SharePoint Conference.

At the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Women in SharePoint was featured in the Community Lounge and on the SharePoint TV with a panel interview. A big thanks to the ladies who participated in the panel: Susan Lennon, Debbie Ireland, Karuana Gatimu and myself. You can watch our interview on YouTube here:

This wonderful group of Women in SharePoint never fails to inspire me to continue on. We love to have new groups form and start to form the bonds of mentorship and help with each other.

Friends, Honors, Community and More

One of the things I tried to do in 2012 was continue my focus on the SharePoint community and how I can best help them. This is a big part of why I enjoy speaking at events, working with the Women in SharePoint group, and running a User Group.

Not only was I honored to become a SharePoint MVP this year, I was also given the honor of becoming a part of the newly formed Microsoft Community Leadership Board. These two awards have given me a fantastic opportunity to give back to others in the SharePoint world by helping, learning and sharing my knowledge.  I have enjoyed the last months utilizing them both and hope to continue in 2013 with taking this even further.

I have been honored to speak at quite a few events this year and participate in several conferences. Each of these events become opportunities for me to meet new friends and reconnect with others.

One of the other things I was able to do in 2012 was to release my first CodePlex project with Eric Harlan, Erik Akers and Paul Schaeflein.

What does the Future Hold?

As today is the first work day of 2013 I thought I would include a small bit of looking ahead to 2013. I am certainly looking forward to participating in many events in 2013. The big ones that I know of right now are SharePoint Saturday Virginia Beach this weekend, SPTech Con in March, and the SharePoint Evolutions Conference in London in April.

I am also looking forward to a potential new branding book and some new partnerships for some potential blogs, projects and maybe even community work. With the release of SharePoint 2013 so many options are available that my head is almost literally spinning just thinking of all the opportunities. I spent part of my New Year’s Day building a new SharePoint 2013 virtual machine and making sure my Office 365 environment was ready to go.

I hope to travel to new places, meet lots of new people and challenge myself to learn more than any other year. Those are my personal challenges for this year. I would try to resolve to blog more, but that is a sure fired method to prevent blogging.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” -Abraham Lincoln

So let me know, leave me a comment or send me an email if there is a topic you would like me to write about on my blog or present about at an event. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy SharePointing in 2013 ya’ll!!! Smile

Presenting on Governance at the AvePoint booth at SPC 12

So I have had the great pleasure of working with the group at AvePoint for many years. Working for Planet Technologies who is an AvePoint partner I was honored to be able to present a quick demo at the SharePoint Conference in their demo theater.

This presentation was on the “Top 10 Questions to Ask about SharePoint Governance.”

Here is that presentation.

It was truly an honor to get this opportunity to present and I got some great feedback from the crowd. This was my first opportunity to step out of my branding persona and speak a little bit about the other side of my SharePoint work.

Many people don’t know that I do a lot of Requirements Gathering, Governance and Taxonomy Development. It is fun to split my brain off and move beyond the look and feel perspective into a total User Experience perspective.

To me a lot of the methods and thoughts are the same around both Branding and Governance. When I do requirements gathering and thinking to plan for branding in a SharePoint site I focus on how Users will actually interact with the site.

Approaching a site from a governance and taxonomy perspective is actually a very similar thought process. I have always found that when you talk to users if you talk to them about how they work and what they would like to see instead of in technology terms you will learn more than you could imagine.

That is where this list of questions came from. I hope it helps a few people out.

A Guest Blog Post – So you want to use Modernizr with SharePoint?

A good friend of mine and fellow SharePoint User Experience person, Bryan Gulley, asked if I would be willing to post a guest blog post for him since he doesn’t have his own blog yet. 

One of my favorite things about the SharePoint Community is learning from each other and helping other people out. So I have no hesitation in posting for you guys Bryan’s post below. He is a great resource for me and I know he has valuable information to share with others.

About Bryan Gulley:

bryan_gulley_hsBryan is a User Experience and User Interface designer working for Slalom Consulting in the Chicago metropolitan area with extensive experience in architecting and developing custom branding solutions and frameworks for SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010, and Office 365.


How to make Modernizer and other libraries compatible with SharePoint

Bryan Gulley Monday July 2nd 2012

A couple of months ago I discovered that Modernizr breaks the wpadder.js file in SharePoint. You can guess by its name that wpadder.js is the JavaScript file that provides the web part adder menu when a page is in edit mode. Steve Ottenad found that IE has issues with extending the Array Prototype detailed in his post here

Obviously Modernizr and several other libraries extend Array Prototype. Doing this causes the Type Mismatch error and won’t let wpadder.js load and as a result you can’t add a web part. So just throw Modernizr and all other useful libraries and shims out the window right?… WRONG!

While working on another project I was making use of the Edit Mode Panel to apply different CSS styles to the page when it was in edit mode. I figured I would try to apply the same sort of principle to loading scripts like Modernizr that have conflicts with SharePoint scripts. The result did not disappoint. You can see my code (added to the head of the master page) for the Edit Mode Panel below. The h1 tags are in there for testing so you know which mode you are in. If you are familiar with how SharePoint works in edit mode then you can remove these and just use the page status bar for reference.

<!– Edit mode panels provided to prevent modernizr and other JS library conflicts with SharePoint OOTB JS files –>

<PublishingWebControls:EditModePanel ID=“EditModePanelEdit” runat=“server” PageDisplayMode=“Edit”>

<h1>You are in EDIT mode</h1>


<PublishingWebControls:EditModePanel ID=“EditModePanelDisplay” runat=“server” PageDisplayMode=“Display”>

<h1>You are in DISPLAY mode</h1>

<SharePoint:ScriptLink language=“javascript” name=“~sitecollection/Style Library/Framework/js/libs/modernizr-2.5.3.js” OnDemand=“false” Localizable=“false” runat=“server”/>


OK great. We can add Modernizr and other feature detection libraries to SharePoint. Now what? Well I took it a step further and decided I wanted to use the header tag (<header></header> for those unfamiliar with HTML5). This tag does not render in IE8 and below. What to do?… Edit Mode Panel to the rescue.

<PublishingWebControls:EditModePanel ID=“EditModePanelHeaderEdit” runat=“server” PageDisplayMode=“Edit”>

<div id=”header”>You are in EDIT mode</div>


<PublishingWebControls:EditModePanel ID=“EditModePanelHeaderDisplay” runat=“server” PageDisplayMode=“Display”>

<header>You are in DISPLAY mode</header> </PublishingWebControls:EditModePanel>

Now I’m guessing several of you are sitting there excited to try this out. One word of caution; you do not want to write Edit Mode Panels for headers, footers, sections, asides, etc. It would just take too much time. If you have the time then good on you; feel free to create Edit Mode Panels to your heart’s content. If you don’t have time fear not; there are several other things you can do with the Edit Mode detection. Take hiding the ribbon for example.

I am constantly frustrated by the ribbon and how it can really mess with a design, so I decided to strip out the site actions and welcome menu and hide it in display mode. This lets me have a good looking site that doesn’t look like SharePoint and still allow contributors to edit pages and have access to the ribbon.

<script type=text/javascript>


var inDesignMode = $(‘#MSOLayout_InDesignMode’).val();

var wikiPageMode = $(‘#_wikiPageMode’).val();

if (inDesignMode == “1″ || wikiPageMode == “Edit”){



else {





Final thoughts. If we can’t make use of feature detection libraries like Modernizer without creating a twin element using a div while the page is in edit mode why use them at all? Simple. It’s in the name of the type of library. With the mobile device zombie apocalypse upon us and practices like responsive design becoming more common place we will need feature detection. It is far easier to ask a browser if it supports a feature than a device. Besides, who wants to maintain that kind of device library? I know I don’t.