Applying site templates in SharePoint Online

This post describes a change to how site designs/ templates are applied to sites in SharePoint Online.

Intro

Microsoft published MC249248 in the Message Center on 7 April 2021 stating the following:

This new SharePoint release of scenario-based site templates will help you expand what’s possible with content, pages, and web parts while helping you quickly get started building your own site. Each template contains pre-populated content and web parts that are fully customizable to meet the needs of your organization. This is rolling out on SharePoint Online and mobile.

This was updated on 23 July 2021 with a new timeline stating that this will be complete for Standard Release in late August 2021. What the message doesn’t detail is how this affects the current process for applying site designs to sites you are creating via the SharePoint admin center.

This change landed in my Standard Release environment around the week commencing 16 August. We first noticed it because we no longer had the ability to apply site designs in the admin center!

Before this change you applied your site designs at the point of site creation:

Before the recent site template change, site designs were applied to SharePoint sites at the point of creation.

Following this change the “choose a design” option is no longer present for team or communication sites through the SharePoint admin center. In order to apply designs you now have to apply a site template within the sites settings after you create it.

How to apply a site template

  • Navigate to the site you wish to apply the template to
  • Press the cog > then select apply a site template

Here you are able to choose from Microsoft pre-built templates, or those you have created and deployed into your SharePoint Online environment (from your organization). The experience is slightly different depending on whether you are using pre-built or your own templates.

Using Microsoft pre-built templates

  • Under From Microsoft > select the template you wish to use > press use template
  • The wizard below will show you a progress bar as the template is applied
When applying a Microsoft template, a progress bar will appear as the template is applied.
  • This wizard will disappear once the progress bar reaches 100% and your template will be applied to your site.
A SharePoint site with a Microsoft template applied.

Using custom site templates from your organization

If like me you had already deployed site designs, these are now shown as site templates available from your organization.

  • Press the cog > then select apply a site template
  • Select From your organization > select the template you wish to use > press use template
  • Once you press use template, an orange message bar will appear letting you know that the site template is being applied.
  • The orange message bar will change to green once the site template has been applied. You have to refresh to see the changes
A SharePoint site with a custom template applied.

Resources

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