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Branded a Fool

As we fall foolishly into April here in the northern hemisphere, spring awakens, and the world around us starts to renew. What better time is there to renew the look and feel of our SharePoint sites? This week, I'd like to highlight some great resources related to that look and feel:

  • Branding guru's blog
  • "Approaches to Creating Master Pages and Page Layouts in SharePoint Server 2007"
  • CodePlex tools
  • "Ten Themes for SharePoint in VSeWSS Projects" download
  • A great book on SharePoint Designer

Branding a SharePoint site is, sadly, no easy task. Luckily there are some smart people out there to help guide you. Among the best is Heather Solomon, who really dove in early on and cracked the code. Heather's blog is a must-read for anyone wanting to learn how to brand SharePoint. But before you dive into that resource, which has tons of information at every level, you should get a really solid overview of customization from Andrew Connell's excellent MSDN article "Approaches to Creating Master Pages and Page Layouts in SharePoint Server 2007".

A number of tools are available to make the complicated and tedious job of branding easier. Start with CodePlex's branding projects. If you're using Visual Studio extensions for Windows SharePoint Services (VSeWSS), you can get 10 downloadable themes for SharePoint from Microsoft.

If you want to dedicate some time to actually learning SharePoint branding, dive into a book. I highly recommend Professional Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 from Wrox Press. It has some very strong branding coverage, and Wrox's website lets you download just the chapters you want, so you don't have to buy the entire book or kill that extra tree. Bravo to Wrox for that useful feature for IT publishing!

If you need something quick and dirty, companies like PixelMill create "canned templates" for SharePoint. Or, if you're looking for inspiration and want to see just what SharePoint sites can look like, search the Internet for sites with "/Pages/Default.aspx" as their home page. Odds are very good they're running on SharePoint.

Until next time, be foolish and enjoy spring!

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