Upgrade your public website

If you’ve been using Office 365 for a while, your subscription was upgraded to the latest version of Office 365. As a result, you now have two public websites – your existing, or pre-upgrade, website and the new website introduced with the upgrade. You can upgrade your existing public website at any time. Watch a video of an upgrade, and when you’re ready to go, follow the steps in this article.

The Public Website in Office 365 has been significantly improved to help you build a truly professional online presence for your business or organization. On the new public website, you get a new template experience, and you can browse and add apps, add social media features, use advanced design features, and more (see Get started with the Public Website).

Here’s a preview of the original website and the new website in Office 365.

Original public website in Office 365 New public website in Office 365

There are many new features in the new public website that make designing a professional-looking website easier, so we encourage you to give the upgrade a shot. If you don’t like the result, you can always stick with your existing website. With both websites available, you can take your time upgrading. Or you can continue using your original website, for example, if you don’t have the time or resources to upgrade right now.

Here’s how to find the two public websites:

  • If you’re using Office 365 Small Business, go to Admin > Manage your public website.
  • If you’re using Office 365 Midsize Business or Office 365 Enterprise, go to SharePoint admin center > Site Collections.

For more information about navigating between the two public websites, see Work with your two Office 365 public websites.

How the website upgrade works

When you’re ready to upgrade your website, here’s what you need to do:

  • Step 1 – Get your existing site ready for upgrade. Make sure all pages on the site are checked in.
  • Step 2 – Install the Public Website Content Migration app on the new website. This is a free app in the SharePoint Store, provided by Microsoft.
  • Step 3 – Open the migration app on the new website and follow the steps to install the app on the existing website, configure the app on the new website, and migrate content from your existing website to the new website.
  • Step 4 – Go to the new website, see how it looks, and start customizing it to your liking. You may want to change the look, use different colors and layouts, and add new features or apps.
  • Step 5 – When you’re finished fine-tuning the new website, you’re ready to make it public on the Internet and change its web address so it uses your custom domain name.

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Step 1 – Get the existing site ready for upgrade

 Important    Before you start upgrading your public website, first upgrade your existing SharePoint sites (team site, website, etc.) to SharePoint 2013. You do this by choosing Start now when prompted in the pink header bar.

Only pages that are checked in will be upgraded, so make sure everything is checked in.

  1. On the existing site, click Page, and then click View All Pages.
  2. Look at the icons for each page. A green arrow on top of the page icon indicates that a file is checked out. For example, the About-us page is checked out.

When a document is checked out, a green arrow is added to the file icon.

  1. If you have a page checked out, click and either check it back in, or discard the checkout. If someone else has one checked out, ask them to check it back in or to discard their changes.

 Note    Don’t worry about the Approval Status: pages with either Draft or Approved will be upgraded.

Step 2 – Install the migration app on the new website

Install the Public Site Content Migration App, a free app provided by Microsoft, on your new website. (Learn more about installing apps in the article Get an app from the SharePoint Store.)

  1. In Office 365, go to the new Public Website by clicking Sites > Public site.
  2. From your new website, click Settings SharePoint Online Public Website Settings button > Add an app.
  3. On the Site Contents page, click SharePoint Store and choose your language at the top.
  4. In the store, select the Public Site Content Migration App.
  5. On the app install page, click Add It.
  6. Sign in using a Microsoft account (for example, @outlook.com).
  7. Click Continue to confirm the app selection.
  8. Click Return to the site.

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Step 3 – Run the migration app

Open the website migration app on your new website and follow the instructions to install the migration app on your existing public website, configure the app, and start the migration. If you run into trouble, see Troubleshooting.

  1. From your new public website, click Settings SharePoint Online Public Website Settings button > Site contents.
  2. Click Public Website Content Migration to open the app, which looks like this:
    Public Website Content Migration app
  1. If the Current public website field is blank, enter the URL of your existing website (https://<AccountName>-web.sharepoint.com for Office 365 Enterprise or https://<AccountName>.sharepoint.com for Office 365 Small Business).
  1. Install the migration app on your existing website:
  1. On the new website, in the migration app, click Install.
  2. On the existing website, click Settings SharePoint Online Public Website Settings button > Add an app.
  3. On the Site Contents page, click SharePoint Store and choose your language at the top.
  4. In the store, select the Public Site Content Migration App.
  5. On the app install page, click Add It.
  6. Sign in using a Microsoft account (for example, @outlook.com).
  7. Click Continue to confirm the app selection.
  8. Click Return to the site.
  1. Return to the migration app on your new website and click Refresh.
  2. Click Grant to let your new website update the taxonomy-based site navigation, and then click Refresh again.
  3. Choose what you want to migrate. Click Select All to import everything or choose from the following:
  • Import images and documents: Copies images, including logo, backgrounds, and pictures from your existing website to the new website.
  • Import site settings: Copies the settings, like title, description, and footer from your existing website to the new website.
  • Import pages and site navigation: Copies web pages and navigation links from your existing website to the new website. (See the detailed list of what is and isn’t migrated in Step 4.)
  1. Click Migrate to begin the migration.

The migration may take several minutes depending on the size and complexity of your existing website.

 Note    During the migration, pages are placed in the Pages library, documents are placed in the Documents library, and images are placed in the Site Assets library.

Troubleshooting the migration app

Make sure you installed the app on both the existing and new websites.

I get an “Access denied” error when I try to install the app on either site

To work around this error, uninstall and reinstall the app on both sites:

  1. To uninstall the app, on each site:
  1. On the Settings menu, click View Site Contents.
  2. In the Apps section, point to the app, click , and then click Remove.
  3. Click OK to confirm that you want to remove the app.
  1. Install the app on the new website following the procedure in Step 2.
  2. Install the app on the existing website, using one of the following methods:
  • Run the app on the new website and in the “Install migration app on your existing website” section of the app, click Install.
  • On the existing website site, install the app from the SharePoint Store, following the procedure in Step 2.

After I click Select All, the Migrate button is unavailable

  • If this is the first time you’re running the migration app, click Refresh, and then try again.
  • If you’ve run the migration app already, delete the migration log, and then click Refresh and try again.

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Step 4 – Customize your new website

Because all features of your existing website are not copied over to the new website, carefully review each page of your new website and make any needed changes. Here’s a list of what does and doesn’t get copied from your existing website to the new website.

Migrated to new website Not migrated to new website

Website title

Website footer

Navigation menu

Existing web pages

Logo and background images

Documents, images, files

Local URL references

Web page URLs (SEO)

Website theme, color schemes, branding

Individual page layouts

Mixed navigation (horizontal and vertical)

Gadgets (contact us, weather, slideshow, etc.)

Placement of logo

Placement of background images

Custom style sheets

Custom script, JS, JQuery, etc.

Sitemap (/pages/sitemap.aspx), member login page (/teamsite), and associated navigation links

Here are some suggestions for how to use the new design tools to finish your new website:

Task Action
Get started Watch the video in Get started with the Public Website.
Change the look of your new website Consider changing the look to one of the over 40 new composed looks available to your website. See Change the look of your website.
Change background, colors, fonts Try out different backgrounds, fonts, and site layouts. You can change this when you choose a look. See Change the look of your website.
Add your website logo Your logo was copied to the Site Assets library on your new website but you still need to insert it on the page. See Add a custom logo to your website.
Change page layouts During migration, all pages were assigned to the Full page layout. If necessary, change the layout for each page. See Change the layout of a web page.
Update navigation links Your navigation links were copied to the new website, but if you used a combination of top and left navigation, you’ll need to customize the links on the new website. See Customize the navigation on your website.
Replace gadgets with features Gadgets from your previous website were not migrated to the new website. Instead use built-in features, like Embed video, Add maps, or Insert HTML.
Replace gadgets with apps For other gadgets, search for the corresponding app in the Office Store. For example, use the Contact Us, Social Media, and Web Analytics apps provided by Microsoft.
Re-insert CSS and scripts CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, and other scripts were not migrated to the new website. You’ll need to add them individually. See Customize your website using CSS and Add HTML and JavaScript.
Add new functionality Use the many features on the new public website, including header and footer elements, reusable content, and the website blog. See Get started with the Public Website.
Advanced website customization For advanced website design or to create a new design from scratch, try the Design Manager, which is available to your new public website.

 Tip    If on the other hand you’d rather hire a design professional to do this work, you can invite them to your website so these features are available to them. See Invite designers or reviewers to your website.

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Step 5 – Make the website public and change its web address

The final step is to make the new website appear on the Internet for everyone to see. If you’re using Office 365 Small Business, your website is already public by default, so this step is only necessary if you previously took the website offline. If you’re using Office 365 Midsize Business or Office 365 Enterprise, your website is not publicly available by default, so you need to perform this step to make it public. See the instructions in Make your public website online or offline.

Next, you’ll want to change the web address of the new website so it uses your custom domain name (for example, www.contosobistro.com). This assumes you have a custom domain name currently associated with your existing website (see Add your domain to Office 365).

As a result, your new website will be found by your visitors, customers, employees, and everyone on the Internet. The steps to change your website address are different for Small Business accounts compared to Midsize and Enterprise accounts in Office 365.

For Office 365 Small Business

  1. Sign in to your Office 365 account, then go to Admin > Manage your public website.
  2. Beside New public site, click Change address.
    Manage public websites in Office 365 for small business
  3. Select your custom domain (for example, http://www.contosobistro.com).
  4. Click Save to apply your domain to the new Public Website.
    See also Work with your two Office 365 public websites.

For Office 365 Midsize and Enterprise

  1. Sign in to your Office 365 account, then go to SharePoint admin center > Site Collections.

     Note    You’ll notice an Upgrade button for each site collection (see Upgrade a site collection). This applies to internal site collections in SharePoint and doesn’t apply to the Public Website collection.

  2. In the Public Website list, select the new Public Website, and then click Rename Website.
    Manage site collections in Office 365 for enterprise
  3. In the New domain drop-down, select your custom domain (for example, http://www.contosobistro.com).
  4. Click OK to apply your domain to the new Public Website.

 Note    The original address, or URL, of your new public website looks something like http://contosobistro-public.sharepoint.com (where ‘contosobistro’ is the name of the account). When you change the address to use your custom domain, the URL becomes something like http://www.contosobistro.com.

Once you apply a custom domain to your new website, it can take several hours, even days, before you can access your website using your custom domain. This is due to the time it takes for DNS changes to update across the Internet (see Add your domain to Office 365).

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Optional steps for the old website

Now that you’ve finished upgrading from your existing website to your new website, what happens to the old website? It actually continues to exist though it’s not easy to find. When you changed the address of your new website to use your custom domain, the pre-upgrade website went back to using its original website address (such as http://contosobistro.sharepoint.com or http://contosobistro-web.sharepoint.com).

You may want to perform one of the following optional steps to ensure your visitors, customers, and search engines don’t continue to land on the old website. Here are a few options:

Task Action
Add text and links Add links, alerts, and directions to each page on the pre-upgrade website directing users to the new website.
Delete pages Delete the web pages from the pre-upgrade website so they can’t be viewed or linked to.
Use redirects Add redirects to each web page on the pre-upgrade website to the new public website.

More information

If you run into trouble while upgrading your website or if you just have a question, go to the Office 365 Community.

Learn more about your new website in Public Website help for Office 365.

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Applies to:
Office 365 Enterprise, Office 365 Enterprise admin, Office 365 Midsize Business, Office 365 Midsize Business admin, Office 365 Small Business, Office 365 Small Business admin, SharePoint admin center, SharePoint Online Enterprise (E1), SharePoint Online Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online Midsized Business, SharePoint Online Small Business, SharePoint Online Website