SharePoint Site Designs and Site Scripts

Sometimes basic site templates just don’t cut the mustard. You want to give your users a modern experience in the Microsoft SharePoint and SharePoint Online environment, right? Previously referred to as site designs, site templates use one or more site scripts to apply a consistent set of actions to a SharePoint site. SharePoint sites can be preconfigured with themes, layouts, lists, and custom actions, such as automation. They ensure consistency across commonly created sites such as Projects or Events and are an easy approach for end users to provision these types of sites without needing to worry about configuration. Site templates can be applied to both new and existing modern sites (group-connected Team and Communication sites). 

SharePoint Online’s Era of Effortless Customisation 

Why complicate when you can simplify? Custom site templates in SharePoint Online epitomise simplicity and convenience. Templates provide an effortless approach, for non-tech-savvy individuals to deploy pre-configured sites with just a few clicks. 

Branding and Personalisation 

Branding plays a big role in tying your Intranet sites together. From project sites, event sites, campaign sites, and more, site templates allow users to easily create sites that are pre-configured with a defined logo, colour theme, and other branding elements, to give your sites a consistent and polished look. 

Discover the Power of Automation 

Custom templates and site scripts aren’t just about aesthetics; they are all about empowering you to work smarter, not harder. You can automate repetitive tasks, set up standardised document libraries, and even configure alerts. 

Accessible Collaboration Spaces 

In the league of extraordinary teams, collaboration is the ultimate superpower. SharePoint Online’s sites are enhanced with modern site templates and site scripts have mastered the art of seamless teamwork. The tools enable you to configure team sites, set permissions, and integrate third-party applications from Office 365 or other platforms, facilitating a seamless collaborative environment. 

Enhancing User Experience 

Let’s face it; nobody likes using a clunky and confusing website. With these tools, you can create sites that your team will genuinely enjoy using. This is especially vital during the onboarding process for new employees, as being able to navigate to the information they need is the key to a smooth experience. 

As an admin, maintaining and managing your sites is crucial. These tools give you that power. You can apply customisations at different levels, from the main hub or individual site levels, making it easy to manage and maintain your sites. 

Get inspired with Microsoft template sites 

Microsoft have put together a collection of stunning template sites in their SharePoint look book which can be leveraged to create beautiful sites that look great across all your devices. 

Support and Community 

We know that sometimes we all need a little help from our friends. Thankfully, the SharePoint community is a fantastic place to find support, tips, popular resources, and solutions for any challenges you might encounter with these tools. You can find informative content on Microsoft’s SharePoint Community. 

Steps For Creating a SharePoint Site Template 

A SharePoint site template is selectable from a drop-down list when creating a new site. It is made up of one or more site scripts which run when the site template is applied. Site scripts are a collection of up to 30 actions, specified by a “verb”, in a JSON format. 

Available actions include: 

  • Create a new list or library 
  • Create site columns, content types, and configuring other list settings 
  • Set site navigation layout, header layout and header background 
  • Apply a theme (excluding channel sites) 
  • Set a site logo
  • Add links to quick launch or hub navigation (excluding channel sites) 
  • Triggering a Power Automate flow 
  • Install a deployed solution from the App Catalog 
  • Set regional settings for the site (excluding channel sites) 
  • Add principals (users and groups) to SharePoint roles (excluding channel sites)
  • Setting external sharing capability for the site (excluding channel sites) 

For a complete list of available actions and their parameters, see the JSON schema. 

Here’s a general overview of how you can create a site template for SharePoint Online: 

1. Create the Site Script/s

The below example script will create a SharePoint list to track the basic details of a project.

a. SharePoint Online Management Shell: If you don’t have it already, you will need to download and install the SharePoint Online Management Shell. To upgrade to the latest version, uninstall the version you currently have, then install the latest version. 

b. Connect to your SharePoint tenant: If you’re not sure how, here is a great set of instructions to Get started with SharePoint Online Management Shell.

Run the below PowerShell script to store the site script in the $site_script variable.

$site_script =  


     “$schema”: “”, 

         “actions”: [ 


                 “verb”: “createSPList”, 

                 “listName”: “Project Tracker”, 

                 “templateType”: 100, 

                 “subactions”: [ 


                         “verb”: “setDescription”, 

                         “description”: “List of Projects” 



                         “verb”: “addSPField”, 

                         “fieldType”: “Text”, 

                         “displayName”: “Project Code”, 

                         “isRequired”: false, 

                         “addToDefaultView”: true 



                         “verb”: “addSPField”, 

                         “fieldType”: “User”, 

                         “displayName”: “Project Lead”, 

                         “addToDefaultView”: true, 

                         “isRequired”: true 




                        “schemaXml”:”<Field ID=\”{596cbd92-36e3-40cc-a910-0f53468ce5e4}\” Type=\”Choice\” DisplayName=\”Project Status\” Required=\”FALSE\” Format=\”Dropdown\” StaticName=\”Project Status\” Name=\”ProjectStatus\”><Default>1</Default><CHOICES><CHOICE>Not Started</CHOICE><CHOICE>In Progress</CHOICE><CHOICE>Complete</CHOICE></CHOICES></Field>”, 

                        “addToDefaultView”: true 



                         “verb”: “addSPField”, 

                         “fieldType”: “Note”, 

                         “displayName”: “Project Notes”, 

                         “addToDefaultView”: true, 

                         “isRequired”: false 







2. Add the Site Script/s 

a. Run the following PowerShell to add your Site Script to SharePoint. 

Add-SPOSiteScript -Title “Create project tracking list” -Content $site_script -Description “Creates list for tracking projects” 

b. Record the Site Script ID

Once you have run the Site Script, the result will be the ID of the site script. You will need to record this ID to add it in your Site Template.

3. Create the Site Template

To create a new Site Template, run the following cmdlet replacing the <ID> with the site script ID from step 2. 

Add-SPOSiteDesign -Title “Project Tracking” -WebTemplate “68” -SiteScripts “<ID>” -Description “Tracks project status in a list” 

The following is a list of the WebTemplates available:



Site template type 



Team site template 



Team site (with group creation disabled) 



Communication site template 



Channel site template 

 4. Apply a site template to a new or existing site 

a. Create your site as per site creating process (if a new site) 

b. From the SharePoint site, click the SharePoint settings cog > Apply a site template 

c. Browse and apply the template of your choosing. Your custom site template can be found under the “From your organization” tab

d. Select the template and click the Use template button 

e. The following bar will appear across your site and will turn green once the site scripts have been executed and are ready to use

The Future of SharePoint Site Customisation 

As Microsoft continues to invest in these tools, we can look forward to even more innovative features and capabilities in the future. 

If you’d like a more in-depth guide to SharePoint’s other features, or to learn how to integrate other Microsoft or Office 365 tools, Propelle is here to help. You can get in touch with our inhouse experts here.

FAQs About SharePoint Site Templates and Scripts 

What are SharePoint Site Templates and how do they enhance collaboration? 

SharePoint Site Templates are prebuilt definitions that allow you to customise the appearance and functionality of your SharePoint sites. These designs cater to various types of modern sites, including group-enabled Team sites and Communication sites, ensuring a consistent experience for users. With the flexibility to create these prebuilt definitions, you enable end users to effortlessly create sites specifically designed for different purposes, such as intranet portals, departmental hubs, project sites or event sites, tailored to your specific business requirements. 

Can I use default site templates in SharePoint Online, or do I have the freedom to customise? 

Certainly! While SharePoint Online offers default site templates that cater to common business objectives, the true power lies in your ability to customise your own site template to match your unique needs. You can choose from a range of Microsoft provided site templates: 

Communication site templates:

  • Brand central: Provide a centralised location for brand assets and guidelines
  • Crisis management: Share news, provide support and connect people to resources in a crisis 
  • Department: Engage viewers with department news, events and resources 
  • Event: Share event information with attendees 
  • Human resources: Provide employees with compensation benefits and career resources. 
  • Leadership connection: Build organisational culture by connection leadership and teams.
  • Learning central: Provide a landing experience for your organisation’s learning opportunities. 
  • New employee onboarding: Guide new employees through your organisation’s onboarding process. 
  • Organisation home: Provide the online home for your organisation with news, resources, and personalised content. 
  • Showcase: Spotlight a produce, event, or team using visual content. 
  • Topic: Engage viewers with informative content like news and events. 
  • Volunteer centre: Onboard, train, and prepare volunteers for campaigns and events.

Team site templates: 

  • Crisis communication team: Centralise crisis communication, resources and best practices. 
  • Employee onboarding team: Guide new employees through your team’s onboarding process. 
  • Event planning: Coordinate and plan event details with your team.
  • IT help desk: Manage technical requests, track devices and share training materials. 
  • Project management: Collaborate with your team to share project details and resources. 
  • Retail management team: Unite retail store managers, emphasize store news, and share management resources. 
  • Store collaboration: Coordinate and prepare retail teams with current store news, resources, and training. 
  • Team collaboration: Manage projects, share content, and stay connected with your team.
  • Training course: Prepare training course participants for specific learning opportunities.
  • Training design team: Brainstorm and plan opportunities to help others learn. 

From here, you can personalise the design, layout, and even incorporate powerful features like content types to ensure your site aligns perfectly with your business processes. SharePoint’s intuitive interface makes the creation process of a custom site design simple. 

How do SharePoint Site Templates benefit content creators and event managers? 

SharePoint’s various site templates empower content creators and event managers to share project updates and event details effortlessly. By choosing from available site templates and customising it, content creators can tailor the site’s layout and structure to highlight relevant content types, making it easy to share departmental news or upcoming events. This ensures that your content reaches the right audience and aligns with your organisation’s objectives. 

What is the significance of custom site templates and how do they simplify the process? 

Custom templates in SharePoint allow you to create a foundation for your sites based on specific business requirements. Whether you’re setting up an intranet portal, communication site, or a project team collaboration space, custom templates streamline the process by providing predefined layouts, settings, and content types. This makes it easier to create sites that meet your business needs while ensuring consistency across your SharePoint environment. 

How do SharePoint Scripts enhance automation and collaboration? 

SharePoint Scripts, in the form of JSON files, are a powerful feature that allows you to automate processes and configure site customisations. For instance, event managers can use Scripts to automate event planning by setting up standardised event pages, ensuring consistent event details and layouts. Similarly, project teams can automate collaboration processes by configuring default document libraries, permissions, and even integration with frequent tools like Office 365.