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An Overview and Comparison of Classic and Modern SharePoint User Interfaces

The purpose of SharePoint is to store and share content so that multiple users can simultaneously manage, access, and collaborate on documents, tasks, and related resources in one place. SharePoint supports two user interface (UI) designs — the “classic” experience and the “modern” experience.

Understanding the Key Differences Between These Experiences

The Classic

The classic UI integrates SharePoint lists and libraries so that even customization of the UI can easily be done. In the classic experience, you can use the script editor web tool to add your own CSS, jQuery, and more. But on mobile, the classic experience isn’t as updated or optimized as the modern.

The Modern

The modern experience is faster, easier to use, and is optimized for mobility. The user can easily configure and manage content, however, there is no web tool to apply styling in the modern.

Other benefits of the modern experience:

  • We can easily edit and publish the page
  • Pages are responsive and cross-browser compatible
  • More user-friendly interfaces
  • Configuring a web part is simpler and self-explanatory
  • Hub sites allow a more flexible hierarchical structure
  • Search will be able to search across Office 365 and results that are more relevant to the current user
  • Reduced customizations of UI

How to Switch Your Experience from Classic to Modern

The classic experience looks like this:

Steps to change classic experience to Modern:

  1. Select “settings”
  2. Select “library” (document or pages)
  3. Select “library settings”
  4. Select “Advanced settings”
  5. Select “list experience”
  6. Select “new experience”
  7. Select “ok.” The classic experience will be changed to modern.

The modern experience:

Classic and Modern: List and Libraries

The Classic

The “library settings” exists on the ribbon as shown below:

The “list settings” also exists on the ribbon as shown below:

The Modern

For a list or document library, select “settings” and then select “list settings” or “library settings.”

Classic and Modern: Library

The Classic

The document library displays a list of files, folders, and key information such as who created or last modified a file, as seen below:

The Modern

The modern document library has more options as compared to classic document libraries, such as “edit in grid view,” “add shortcut to OneDrive,” “format current view,” and more.

Classic and Modern: Team Sites

The Classic

When you create a classic team site, web parts for announcements, a calendar, or links, they are automatically added to the home page.

The Modern 

Modern team sites are connected to Microsoft 365 groups. The modern team site homepage features include news, quick links, site activity, and the document library. It also automatically displays recent activity on the site, such as files uploaded, changes made, lists and libraries created, and more.

Classic and Modern: Pages

The Classic

The classic experience includes web parts and pages such as blog pages and wiki pages. SharePoint web parts are segmental components that shape the basic building block of a page on SharePoint sites. Web parts can also be used to add custom functionality to SharePoint pages.

The Modern

Modern pages provide a quick and simple way to develop responsive pages using the modern web parts.

Classic and Modern: Search

The Classic

We use the SharePoint admin center to manage the classic search.

The Modern

We use the Microsoft 365 admin center to manage Microsoft Search.

Classic and Modern: Layout

The Classic

While creating a classic web part page, we choose a layout with web part zones to use. We can change the page layout by editing the page. In the ribbon, click on the “page” tab, click the “page layout” dropdown, and select the layout you want.

The Modern

The layout is flexible and can be changed at any time.

Level Up Your SharePoint

You can easily update your SharePoint UI from classic to modern at any time you like. For more help and information on SharePoint, contact our experts today.

About the Author

Manjusha Dahane is a Lead Technical Consultant at Perficient and working in the QA department, having experience in both Manual and Automated Testing. She worked on different domains like E-commerce, Automobile, and Content Management. She loves to share her experiences through blogging.

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