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If you’re like me you were excited when Microsoft launched Viva connections - a way to get your SharePoint Online intranet integrated into Microsoft teams! - lovely, especially since we’re trying to work more and more from within teams.
But the viva branding never quite clicked for me, no additional license, no viva branding, it was just simply your SharePoint Home site inside teams.
I’ve been very happy with the feature as it was, and it’s been an easy “let’s also do that” for every client that I’ve built an intranet for over the past year or so! - but that’s all about to change!
The new Viva Connections home experience
In case you haven’t noticed, Microsoft is pushing viva, and that’s a train that doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon, with that Microsoft recently announced that they’ll be “updating” the viva connections app in the spring of 2023 (Roadmap ID 98173).
What does these update include? - well first of all a more viva centric experience, whether or not you like the new experience might be a personal preference, I’m not going to tell you to love it, or hate it.
I’ll say that it does look quite different from what we’re used to seeing in SharePoint, but I think it’s just a matter of getting used to it! - One thing that I really like is that I think we’ll see more coherent designs than what I’ve at least seen some SharePoint intranets look like.
Here are the two compared:
One thing to note is that at the time the only real way to extend Viva connections home is by using SPFx Adaptive Card Extensions, again a more coherent experience, instead of a ton of custom webparts.
What does it bring?
The new viva connections home will bring insights into the users viva data, so if you’re already invested in the viva platform this will be a very welcome addition!
Navigational elements At the very top there’ll be a navigational bar connected to your home site, and the other viva apps.
If you’re not that invested in viva this is where things will be a bit annoying, because what you’ll see at the top is your viva dashboard, that you might already be familiar with from your current home site, if you haven’t already set one up, now might be a good time to get started on doing just that, as it’ll be a key part of the experience!
Next below that you’ll find your resources, this will show your navigation from your app bar, and some frequent data (right now it looks like it’s going to be Frequent sites and Followed sites)
To the right of all of that is your feed your feed is a rollup of news, from your org (Home sites, news sites), Yammer (Viva engage) posts, that are relevant to you (organization community, and communities you follow)
Is my home site going away?
Don’t worry, your existing SharePoint home site is only a single click away, just click the button in the top right to head straight there, if your organization decides not to adopt viva there will be a PowerShell cmdlet to disable the new experience! (maybe only if you’re already using viva connections now, I haven’t been able to find a clear answer on future customers)
What about my theming, my organizations branding is important to us
Don’t worry there will be plenty of customization options, I haven’t seen anyone mention the color scheme, but the banner image is customizable, and I’m assuming we’ll see even more in the not too distant future.
This will help bring even more people onto viva connections, as it’ll be easier than ever to setup, and what’s awesome is that it’s a great way to get users familiar with the viva look and feel!
But I still foresee a lot of client’s wanting the default experience changed back, but we’ve been promised that we can do that, so no worries.
I would rather have seen this as a new product (viva home) so I don’t have to explain to people that viva connections is now defaulted to this new viva connections home, and not their intranet that they might have built over years.
The Viva connections app’s default layout will change in the spring of ‘23 and get a lot more viva centric.
You’ll be able to switch the new experience off for existing environments, no word yet (that I can find) on new environments.