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Efficiently work with SharePoint 2013 Design Manager

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With SharePoint 2013 on the shelves, you might be wondering what new features are there that could be worth making the upgrade. The Design Manager is a feature that can help people get into branding SharePoint Sites a lot easier than before. You can already find a lot of information on the how-tos to use this feature, but I wanted to give you a quick 3min overview of the Design Manager in this video.

Here’s the video’s transcript, if you rather read than listen to Ben:

A cool new feature within SharePoint 2013 is the new Design Manager, now not to be confused with SharePoint Designer – be careful. The Design Manager is this new feature that is only enabled through the site collection feature publishing infrastructure. With this on, in your site settings menu, you’ll find the Design Manager. Within, you’ll be able to convert HTML pages to master pages, which I find extremely cool, because you can give this to somebody that doesn’t have that much experience with SharePoint branding and they can actually develop their own HTML, CSS or whatever they’re good at. And then you can convert it into a master page. This is extremely useful because we can really go beyond the next step.

Another cool thing is the composed looks within SharePoint. Now, this is kind of like the WordPress galleries where you can choose your theme, except that you can create your own composed looks and have the power user choose the look that he wants for his site. Of course, you can control what aspect of your site is going to be recolored. See, the composed looks offer the power user the ability to change the background image, the ability to change the colors, and to change the fonts. But, of course, you can choose which colors and where they’re going to be settled, where they’re going to change.

One last thing is really the device channels within the Design Manager. The device channels are actually a way to specify which master page you would like to load for a specific device like the Surface or the Windows Home of course.

Now, a last thing about the Design Manager is that it gives us a cool new feature called Create a Design Package. When I saw that, I was extremely excited, because I do not like Visual Studio. I’m not a coder. All I want to be able to do is do my little design and then create a solution, a package, so that others can deploy and make it work. Now, that’s what I saw. I thought, “Yes! I can create a design package now.” And what it says is that it’s going to take all the files you’ve customized or added, create a double your speed package so that you can give to your end users or your site collection administrators, for example, or even another company, and they can deploy your branding.

Now, the one thing is it works extremely well if you don’t plan to deactivate your feature afterwards. I have had some problems where it would break my site because it would think that it should retract the page’s content type or remove some columns within it. So it’s great, but you should really be careful when using the design package, unfortunately.

Otherwise, the Design Manager in SharePoint 2013 is extremely cool and I really recommend you use it. It’s a good reason to migrate to SharePoint 2013.

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