Classic vs Modern SharePoint: Which should you choose?

admin November 15th, 2018

Classic vs Modern SharePoint

While working with clients, we’re regularly asked for guidance on when to use the modern SharePoint experience and when to use the classic experience. If all you’re after is the answer, always use modern. There, it’s that easy. End of blog post.

Hey Kieran, what’s wrong with classic SharePoint? We’re using it now and we’re happy!

Classic has served us all well for many years. It’s allowed us to create rich experiences and control every fine detail of what users see. Why mess with a good thing, you may ask? Because technology moves very quickly. Classic SharePoint was built as a traditional web application, with heavy processing being done on a server, and with the entire page reloading every time you navigate to another page. It was great for its time, but as the core technology of the web shifts, we now have better options.


Modern SharePoint is built from the ground up to be responsive and lightweight. It’s built upon modern web technologies. It’s faster to load, faster to navigate between pages, faster to execute searches. It’s faster to find the content you need and enable you to get on with your day.


Not only is it faster, but it does not discriminate. Modern SharePoint doesn’t care if you’re on a Mac, using Chrome, using your iPad, or on your Android phone. It “just works”. Classic SharePoint doesn’t always play nicely with all browsers and requires heavy customisation in order to get it working well on mobile devices. Even then, issues are not uncommon. That heavy customisation goes hand-in-hand with the next point…


Classic SharePoint allows for heavy customisation, however doing so creates a great deal of overhead to maintain the platform. What if Microsoft updates the base platform and adds new features? You may need to update your customisations to expose those features. This can be a tricky, time-consuming, and potentially risky process.

Modern SharePoint receives regular updates, with new features being added constantly. Its core UI is built upon an open source framework, empowering developers to create applications that feel native to the Office 365 platform. Modern SharePoint provides developers with more options for creating custom experiences and does so without creating massive maintenance overheads.

If you don’t understand the importance of this, talk to any SharePoint developer or administrator about “custom master page maintenance” and watch them recoil in horror.

Pretty and personalised

Modern SharePoint has a clean look that people expect from the web. It has the flexibility to create a wide range of rich experiences natively. It’s also much easier for site administrators to create custom themes to ensure your site embodies the identity of your business.

More likeable

Ok, so this one is a bit harder to measure. However, in FiveP’s experience introducing people to the platform, we’ve found that people just like the modern experience. It’s easier to find the options they’re looking for. It’s easier to publish content to the location they want. No more digging through tabs of ribbon menus and navigating complex authoring processes, everything “just works”. The ease-of-use tends to increase adoption, and decrease frustration, allowing you to focus resources where they’re needed.

With that said, if you’re using classic and you’re happy with it, that’s great! There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s still fully functional and Microsoft has no plans to abandon it. If, however, you’d like to talk to us about how you could get the most out of your platform, then please feel free to contact us.


Kieran Cumming | Solution Architect | FiveP

About the author: Kieran’s IT knowledge surpasses that of many elders. He does anything from back-end code to the user interface, he can script or code his way out of any problem.

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