Sharepoint 2010 : Putting Your Site on the Web - Customizing the User Experience (part 2) - Working with Page Layouts

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2. Working with Page Layouts

Master pages are an essential component of a good Web site as they control the consistency associated with look and feel. However, content presentation across an entire Web site might need to be different given that a home page is presented differently than a news page or a product detail page. That’s where page layouts come in. Page layouts are page templates that define how a page should look, the fields that are available, and exactly which collections should be present on the page (such as lists and libraries). In the construction of a Web site, you would develop a collection of page layouts for the various ways you want to present content. In SharePoint Web sites, you will want to turn on the publishing features for your Web site. This will enable the use of publishing page layouts. The use of these page layouts allows content submitters to work directly in their browsers for content management and submit changes for approval when done. The customization of page layouts, like master pages, is done exclusively in SharePoint Designer.

Do you need custom page pages and custom page layouts? The answer is probably yes. Think of the master page as the wrapper around all your Web site pages. This wrapper enforces a consistent look and feel as it relates to content or graphics that are shared across all these pages (for example, header, footer, navigation, and so on). The page layout controls how content is presented that is unique to the page or at least the type of page. As mentioned, you might have one page layout for your home page, another that is used on your various product pages (that may show different content but should show it in a similar way to other product pages), another that is used when only simple HTML is needed, and another when you are pulling data from SharePoint lists.

Creating a Custom Page Layout

Creating a custom page layout in SharePoint 2010 is very similar to how it was done in SharePoint 2007. It involves the use of Content Types and custom Columns. The first step is to create a custom site Content Type. You do this under Site Settings → Site Content Types (as seen in Figure 3). Click New to display a data entry page (see Figure 4) that requests additional information for the Content Type Name, parent content type from (select Publishing Content Types), Parent Content Type (select Page), and Put this site content type into (select Page Layout Content Types).

Figure 3. To start creating a new Content Type, select Create from the list of existing Content Types

Figure 4. You can define a new Content Type by supplying base information like name and parent content type

After you create a new Content Type, you can create a new page layout from it. Before you do this, make sure your Content Type has any additional custom Columns that you might need for your for content presentation. Now, in SharePoint Designer 2010, open the Web site for which you want to create the page layout. From the menu, select New → SharePoint Content. From the dialog box, click SharePoint Publishing. Click Page Layout and find your new Content Type from the list of Page Layout Content Types. That’s it! Give your new page layout a name and title, and customize the organization of content. Once saved and published, you can use this page layout as the base template for pages that you will create for your Web site.

Remember, page layouts can only be created and edited in SharePoint Designer but can be used for Web page creation by content authors, who are have been given proper access, simply using the browser.

3. Media Field Control

Another important element in an engaging user experience on a Web site is the use of rich media. SharePoint 2010 offers a number of new ways to include rich media on your Web site. One of these is the media field control. The media field control is built on Silverlight 3.0 and allows you to embed video on your SharePoint site. Like all things with SharePoint, it is also customizable with SharePoint Designer.

When would you use the media field control? Let’s say you have a news section on your Web site and you would like to include rich media in your page layout. To do this, it is very straightforward. Simply extend the Content Type associated with the specific page layout in use by including a new Column of type Media Field. This will include the option to include a rich media control from the ribbon. The control would point to the source of your video content. That’s it! You now have embedded video on your Web page. Of course, this example uses the Media Field control in the context of a page layout. You can also use the media Web Parts that are native in SharePoint if you simply want to add embedded video to a specific page.

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