SharePoint Online Content Management System: 2021 Review

SharePoint Online Content Management System: 2021 Review

SharePoint Online is a headless content management system. It’s often used by businesses who are looking for a one-stop solution to their intranet needs.

But how good really is the SharePoint Online content management system? Is it worth using for your company? What do you need to know about its pros and cons?

In this article, let’s put the SharePoint Online CMS under the spotlight and see how good or bad it really is as a content management system.

Let’s get started.

What is a content management system?

A content management system helps develop various types of content. This can include blog posts, news articles, product pages on ecommerce stores, videos, infographics, and much more.

It uses a database to store information — with one or more databases that allow the content to be structured in a specific way while providing ease of access if needed.

It is quite different than a document management solution since a CMS does not simply store documents:

Content management systems are up to any type of content you can think of, while document management is more about storing and retrieving files related to business operations rather than marketing or other types of industry needs.

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    What is SharePoint Online CMS?

    SharePoint Online is the cloud-based version of Microsoft SharePoint, a platform that allows businesses to share and collaborate on projects. It’s an excellent option for those who need an intranet solution for the company.

    Some may argue that having more control over your own site might be worth it, in the long run, using third-party platforms.

    That’s when you consider things like security concerns and updates becoming mandatory rather than optional when using a service such as Sharepoint Online.

    If you’re unfamiliar with SharePoint, or you wish to learn more about it, I created a definitive guide for newbies you can check out. I explained there the basic concepts in SharePoint and how to use it.

    Can you consider SharePoint a headless CMS?

    SharePoint is typically considered a headless content management system. This is due to the fact that it assists with managing content without requiring any technical knowledge about how CMS works or what it entails.

    A headless content management system refers to a system where the content repository is separated from the user interface.

    This is a popular option since the backend allows content editors to work on their own, without dealing with things like frontend design or other aspects.

    In this way, SharePoint Online can be considered a headless CMS since it separates the content from its display in a seamless manner that doesn’t require any additional knowledge about how it works.

    How to use SharePoint Online as CMS?

    Many large companies use SharePoint as a content management system to handle large quantities of data as part of an intranet that caters to employees.

    Naturally, to be able to use SharePoint as a content management system, you need to create a site.

    This enables you to use content management features like version history, approvals, tagging, metadata, lists, views, and much more.

    Using SharePoint for Intranet

    For the most part, SharePoint is quite good for intranet purposes. One of the best things about it is that it doesn’t require any technical knowledge about content management systems or how to use them.

    Plus, you can share documents internally while still keeping some things private.

    To use SharePoint Online for intranet purposes, all you need to do is create a new site, which can be a team site, a communication site, or a classic site that the system supports.

    If you’re unfamiliar with how site creation works in SharePoint Online, I created a guide a while back on the different ways you can create a modern site (manual method or through PnP PowerShell).

    Can you use SharePoint to create a public-facing website?

    No. Microsoft announced on March 9, 2015, that it will no longer support the ability to create a public website. Those who already used the feature though may still use it for a minimum of two years to be able to adjust to the changes.

    As for the reason, here is the exact text from Microsoft Documentation:

    “As part of the evolution of the Office 365 service, we periodically evaluate the capabilities of the service to make sure that we’re delivering the utmost value to customers. After careful consideration, we concluded that for public websites, Office 365 customers would be better served by third-party providers whose core competency is public websites. Therefore, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue the SharePoint Online Public Website feature so that we can focus our efforts and investments on delivering capabilities in Office 365 that will bring more value to our customers.”

    That means you will have to use a third-party platform to create a public-facing website for your company. There are a lot of good ones out there like WordPress, Drupal, and others.

    Take note that not being able to create a public-facing website does not mean you can’t share content with others from public websites in Sharepoint Online. SharePoint will allow you to share anything inside your intranet.

    What are the pros and cons of the SharePoint Content Management System?

    In general, the pros of SharePoint Online include being able to share content from a website or app. On the other hand, SharePoint also has its own limitations, especially in the case of content authoring.


    • The ability to share and manage all kinds of content and documents. There is literally no limit to what you can share with others.
    • If your company uses Microsoft on a lot of your processes, the Microsoft Office integration will make things easier on your part. SharePoint works with Microsoft Office applications seamlessly.
    • The flexibility of its content management system has vastly improved — not only on how you can format your content — but on editing the pages as well with different types of page blocks.


    • Only caters to your intranet needs. If you’re looking for a content management system that allows you to show your site to the public, you are better off using WordPress or Drupal.
    • It has a little bit of a learning curve. Using SharePoint Online as a CMS means you need to learn the principles of good site governance, taxonomy, stability, site collection management, and many more.
    • In terms of the content authoring itself, you are limited in the rich text editor, scripting, and HTML translations. Although it has advanced quite well in recent years, content authoring is not as robust as most third-party systems.

    How effective is Sharepoint as CMS?

    SharePoint Online is a content management system that caters to intranet needs. If you’re looking for a content management system that allows you to share and manage all kinds of documents, SharePoint has got it covered (and then some).

    The main downside to using Sharepoint as a CMS is if you want public-facing website capabilities such as rich text editor translation or scripting, there are other platforms better suited for those purposes like WordPress or Drupal.

    What do you think about the SharePoint Online content management system? Do you have plans of using it for your company? Or do you feel some sort of reservations over its limitations?

    Feel free to drop your thoughts in the comment section below. If you have some questions that you want me to answer directly, send me a direct message using the contact form on this page.

    About Ryan Clark

    As the Principal Solutions Architect at Mr. SharePoint, I help companies of all sizes better leverage Modern Workplace and Digital Process Automation investments. I am also a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for Office Apps & Services.

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