As you build your public website in Office 365, you might invite external users to help you with the site or review the site before you make it available to all users on the Internet. When you share your website with external users, those users can see your site and work with it just like you can, even though the general public still can’t see the website. This article explains how you can share your website with users who can help you create a professional online presence for your business or organization.
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Share your website with external users
When you share a site with external users, you send them an invitation they can use to log in to your site. You can send this invitation to any email address. When the recipients accept the invitation, they log into your website using a Microsoft account or if they’re already an Office 365 user (such as one of your employees), an Office 365 user ID. If the invited user already has a Microsoft account such as Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail), they can sign in using that account. If they have another account, such as Gmail or custom third-party service, they’ll need to associate that account with a Microsoft account.
Important Be careful when adding users to your public website because those users can ultimately change the online presence of your business, which is seen by your customers, visitors, colleagues, and others.
Add external users to your website
- Log onto your public website in Office 365.
- Click Share at the top of your website.
- In the Share Website window, type the names of the external users you want to invite, for example firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Tip If the people you’re inviting are already part of your Office 365 account, you can simply type their name here.
- Type a message to include with the invitation. You might add a reminder as to why you’re inviting them, the necessary steps to sign in with a Microsoft account, and what to do on the website once signed in.
- Click Show Options and specify the type of permission they should have on your website. For a description of each, see the permission levels at the beginning of this article.
The Share Website window looks similar to this.
- When finished, click Share.
Note All invitations you send will expire in 7 days. If invitees don’t accept the invitation within that time, you may need to resend the invitation.
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Remove external users from your website
When you’re finished working with external users on your public website, it’s a good practice to remove those users so that only you and other trusted individuals have permissions to change the site. There are a few ways to remove external users once they’ve been added to your website. You can do this from the Office 365 Service Settings page or from the Site Settings page on your website.
Remove external users from Office 365 Service Settings
- Go to Admin > Service Settings > sites and document sharing.
- Click Remove individual external users.
- Select the external users you want to remove, and then click Delete (the trash can icon).
Remove external users from the website Site Settings page
- From your public website, click Settings and choose Site settings.
- Under Users and Permissions, click Site permissions.
- Click the permission group that you added to the external user to – such as Designers or Members.
- Check the box beside the name you want to remove and choose Actions > Remove Users from Group.
- Click OK to confirm the user deletion.
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Permission levels for external users
There are a few reasons why you would invite external users to your website. You might want them to review the website before it goes live. You might want help with authoring, editing, or formatting of specific web pages. You might want a professional web design firm to redesign your website from scratch. Or you might want to give a business partner or an employee complete permission to manage and customize the website.
There are several permission levels you can choose from when inviting external users to your site, though the first four are the most commonly used with the Public Website.
||Use when inviting users who should have full control of the website collection. Owners have the maximum amount of permissions to customize and manage the website.
||Use when inviting a web designer or design firm to customize the website. Designers can customize pages, change the look, apply style sheets, use the Design Manager, and so on.
||Use when inviting users to author and edit pages on the website. Members can add, edit, and delete web pages and documents and can add and edit lists and libraries.
||Use when inviting users who you want to have read-only or review-only permissions. Visitors can view the website and pages and documents on the website but cannot change those pages.
||Not commonly used on the Public Website but more likely used on internal-facing SharePoint sites. Approvers can edit and approve pages, list items, and documents that are part of an approval process.
||Not commonly used on the Public Website but more likely to be used on internal-facing SharePoint sites. Restricted readers can view pages and documents, but not historical versions or user permissions.
||Not commonly used on the Public Website but more likely to be used on internal-facing SharePoint sites. Hierarchy Managers can create sites, edit pages, list items, documents, create variations, and so on.
|Style Resource Readers
||Not commonly used on the SharePoint Online Public Website. Use this role to give limited access to the Style and Master Page galleries.
||Not applicable to the Public Website as this role is intended for variations and translation services on internal-facing SharePoint sites.
Tip To learn more about permission levels in SharePoint Online, see Understanding permission levels.
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There are more external sharing tasks you may want to learn about, such as sharing individual documents from a document library, withdraw sharing invites, or disabling external sharing altogether. You can learn more about this in the following articles.
Learn more in Public Website help for Office 365.
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