Modern vs. Classic SharePoint: What Sets them Apart?

SharePoint development is our bread and butter. For almost a decade, we’ve been developing custom SharePoint-based solutions for enterprise-level companies that have struggled to optimize mundane processes, increase productivity across the board, and accelerate their digital transformation.

We had an opportunity to transform everything from an appointment booking app to an employee onboarding and learning management system for companies like PBS, Ergomed, and more.

We made it our mission to utilize Microsoft’s product in the best ways possible for our customers and educate everyone interested in SharePoint how this awesome solution can help grow their business.

As you probably know if you have been closely following our blog, we have written A LOT of articles about SharePoint. The oldest one dates back to April 2019.

Since then, a lot has changed for SharePoint. The product has gone through lots of interesting iterations that opened up the platform to a bigger audience.

The modern SharePoint is a noticeably different product from the classic one. In this article, we’re going to touch upon all the major differences between the two and explain how they compare to one another.

Hello, Office 365


Probably the biggest difference between the classic and the modern SharePoint is the integration with the Office 365 groups.

Office 365 Groups integration has added a lot of new value and improvements to the old platform. With the Office 365 Groups, the users are now given the ability to put calendar lists together, create task lists, announcement lists, and a lot more (while enjoying the old benefits for each group that are built around storing and managing content).

Within the modern SharePoint team site, you are given access to the following services:

  • Exchange Calendar - tool for quickly seeing and organizing your calendar, allowing you to view your colleague’s agenda to book meetings, etc.
  • Yammer - tool for seeing feeds of conversations where users can interact on the fly. It’s sort of a substitute for email.
  • Planner - digital kanban board tool for managing and tracking projects.
  • Stream - video management and storing service for quick sharing of video content, etc.
  • OneNote - tool for easily taking notes and organizing them in a way so you can painlessly invite people to collaborate

Some of the functionalities that all of these services bring to the modern SharePoint were already part of the classic one, but only to a certain extent.

For instance, let’s look at Yammer: While Yammer existed in the classic SharePoint environment, it looked a lot different. It didn’t offer much integration with SharePoint sites. Modern SharePoint allows us to use Yammer while working in our Groups, Planner, or virtually any other modern tool.

The Web Parts

Speed and user-friendliness are huge advantages for the modern SharePoint environment. You can now create great-looking SharePoint team sites in a couple of hours with zero coding.

Those who had the opportunity to create team sites in the classic SharePoint environment know that this sort of job takes days, not hours. Mostly because it involves lots of coding.

Modern SharePoint team sites come with brilliant web parts that look great that are super easy to use. However, there are some downsides, especially for those customers who have been with SharePoint for years and who have invested a lot of resources in building custom resources.

The biggest downside when it comes to the modern SharePoint revolves around moving custom solutions from the classic to the modern environment is a nightmare. It’s nothing short of a complete nightmare. Many classic web parts don’t have a 1:1 equivalent in modern SharePoint and that makes developers furious. That’s why a lot of them are against switching to the SharePoint Framework (SPFx).

For a lot of teams, this is just too big of a lift. However, we at Share IT enjoy SPFx and find it extremely useful. As you know if you’ve been closely following our blog, we wrote a detailed explanation regarding when and how to successfully opt for SPFx.

Mobile Experience 2.0


Out-of-the-box responsives is a huge value add for those who have moved from a classic to a modern SharePoint environment. The days of endless side-scrolling and terrible loading times are now a thing of the past. In addition to that, the UX is also better. The items are no longer so small that you constantly struggle to click the right document.

In addition to all this, accessibility has also been improved. You can access your modern SharePoint team sites on any device via the Microsoft SharePoint app.

This doesn’t seem like a mind-blowing addition to users who haven’t used the classic SharePoint. Those who have probably remember the days when they had to use third-party apps on phones and tablets to only access lists and libraries. Accessing the whole site on phones and tablets was impossible.

The new app fixes this nightmare. The interface is clean and allows you to view the entire contents of your team site in a second.

Also, Office apps are super easy to integrate with the modern SharePoint app. We can finally edit documents on the go and collaborate with colleagues via our favorite devices.

New Lists and Libraries Interface

The new interface is faster and a lot easier to use. You can select multiple documents and download them as a single .zip file instead of wasting lots of valuable time downloading each file individually. In the modern SharePoint environment, you are given the ability to pin documents to the top and manipulate them in any way you want to.

In addition to that, the management side of lists and libraries has also been improved. Now you can add, reorder, resize, sort, filter, and group columns in a matter of seconds with a couple of clicks. Those who used the classic SharePoint know that this wasn’t such a simple thing to do in the old environment.

Cleaner and Simpler Newsfeed

Building clean newsfeeds in SharePoint was a big and complex task that required building your own solution with custom page layouts, master pages, web parts, and CSS.

The process involved heavy coding.

Modern SharePoint environments come with an out-of-the-box News section that replaces the one that was used in the old version.

The new SharePoint News looks great! It provides the users with an option to easily share content with the team. The UI is very intuitive. Creating and removing posts from the feed requires no time and zero skill. Anyone can do it with just a couple of clicks.

Over to You

As you can see, the modern SharePoint environment brings a lot of improvements but its biggest obstacle is compatibility.

The transition from an old system to a new one isn’t as smooth as most people would like it to be. Especially for users who have custom solutions that they’re not willing to abandon or build from scratch.

A lot of the businesses that have struggled to make the switch have turned to third-party migration tools as another way to help ease the burden of migrating. Those who remained skeptical have reached out to outside experts to help them make the switch.

If you’re struggling to fully understand the modern SharePoint experience and how to migrate your custom solutions to the new environment, we’re happy to help you with that.

Get in touch right here!