I love Web Part Pages!

I think they are the mot underrated feature in SharePoint today. Unfortunately how they work, and what they can be used for is not quite as intuitive as I would perhaps have liked. In this series of blog posts I’m going to describe just how a customer I worked with used them as a very “light-weight” “content management” system. To be clear (note all the ‘”’ in that last sentence?) I’m not saying they in any way replace the likes of Microsoft Content Management server, but in many situations where a customer just needs a very simple mechanism for managing web content, these can fit the bill.

Tip # 1. Creating a multi-page web site in SharePoint

In this first tip I’m going to take you through exactly how a Web Part Page can be added to your site. I know I’m starting simple, but by the end of this series we will also dig into some of the deeper technical issues like customisation, ghosting and categorisation.

Now, lets begin:

1. First, you of course need to create your team site.
2. Within your team site create a new document library, in this example we will call it “Pages”, but you can call it anything. We are creating this document library because each Web Part Page must live inside a SharePoint managed document library. I find it useful to store them all in a single place, however this is not essential, they can live along side other documents. Before clicking “Create” be sure to select “Web Part Page” as the default “Document Template” type.
WPPage 1-1
3. After creating the new document library you will be presented with a view of the empty library. From here creating a new Web Part Page is as simple as clicking on the “New Document” button. Alternatively, new Web Part Pages can be added to a site via the “Create Page” (clicking “Create” on the toolbar at the top of the team site), you will find them type by scrolling to the bottom of the list, as seen in the below screen grab:
WPPAge 1-4

Both approaches will take you to the same “New Web Part Page” screen seen below. The only difference is that when creating a page via the “Create Page” screen SharePoint needs to know which document library to create the page in, and so it asks, whereas when you create it directly from the document library it already knows.

4. Enter the name of a page, for example “More Information”, and then select one of the predefined templates, each template offers a different Web Part Zone layout, (in later tips I will discuss how these can be modified) and then click “Create”.
WPPage 1-2

5. Once created, you will be taken directly to the new page in design mode. Web Parts can then be dropped onto this page just like you drop web parts onto any other SharePoint page. For example, this includes the ability to drop on the “Content Editor Web Part”, or web parts pointing to any lists already created within the current “Team Site”.
WPPage 1-3

6. To complete the web part page simply exit design mode by closing the toolpane and all is well, congratulations!

In the next tip in the series I will talk about how to add an automatic mechanism for navigating between the Web Part Pages you create.