Jeff Jacobson-Swartfager

Make Your Own Custom Tiles in SharePoint 2013

Creating your own custom tiles is super easy in SharePoint 2013. Organizing them can take a little bit more planning.

The following method will create tiles that will work from theme to theme without needing any further configuration. It will also ensure that you are using a sensible pattern for storing your assets. And, when you were done, it will look like Microsoft made your icon!

Create the Tile Image

Let’s start with some assumptions:

  • You’ve already figured out where you are going to link from and where you are linking to. The tiles are glorified hyperlinks, so you need a source (to display the tiles) and a destination (to send the user to).
  • The theme you are using uses a color for the TileBackgroundOverlay slot in its .spcolor file. For more on SharePoint’s color palette file, see the MSDN article Color palettes and fonts in SharePoint 2013. If you are using a very light color in this slot, you’ll want to build your tile as a dark color.
  • You have the necessary SharePoint permissions to add apps and edit lists. One of the apps you have permission to add is Promoted Links.
  • You have access to image editing software that can create 24-bit PNG files.

With those items squared away, create your png. It should be 150px square and use a transparent background. The transparency will allow the color set in your theme’s TileBackgroundOverlay slot to show through. Use white (hex color #FFFFFF) as your non-transparent pixels.

It is helpful to work in a vector image editing program for this, like Adobe Illustrator. Do your work in any other color and then turn all of your shapes white before exporting to png.

When you export your png, make sure to save it as a 24-bit png file (aka, png-24). This will result in a slightly larger file size, but a much more crisp result.

Upload to SharePoint

With your new, shiny image in hand, it is time to upload it to SharePoint. Upload your image to the Site Assets folder of your destination site.

This pattern will be useful when you find that you want to link to this site from multiple locations.

For example, the ACME company is going to link to a site for their sales department site. They also want to use that tile on their root homepage, on the accounting department’s site, and on the PMO’s site.

You’ll know that the resources you need are always going to be located in the same guessable location:

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[YOUR SHAREPOINT URI]/[PATH TO THE LINK DESTINATION SITE]/SiteAssets/[FILENAME].png

ACME’s sales department logo would be at:

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http://sharepoint.example.com/ACME/Sales/SiteAssets/sales-icon.png

Create a Promoted List

Navigate to the site you will be linking from and access Site Contents. Since ACME is going to be linking to the sales subsite from three different locations (the accounting subsite, the PMO subsite, and the root homepage), they’ll have to access Site Contents on each subsite.

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http://sharepoint.example.com/ACME/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/_layouts/15/viewlsts.aspx
http://sharepoint.example.com/ACME/Accounts/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/_layouts/15/viewlsts.aspx
http://sharepoint.example.com/ACME/PMO/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/_layouts/15/viewlsts.aspx

In each Site Contents, select add an app and choose Promoted Links. Give your list of tiles an appropriate name. ACME might name it “Departments” on the root homepage, “Pipelines” on the accounting subsite, and “Portfolios” on the PMO subsite.

Navigate to the promoted links list and start adding some links. ACME would be doing this from the following locations:

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http://sharepoint.example.com/ACME/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/Lists/Departments/allitems.aspx
http://sharepoint.example.com/ACME/PMO/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/Lists/Pipelines/allitems.aspx
http://sharepoint.example.com/ACME/PMO/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/Lists/Portfolios/allitems.aspx

Give each new item a Title. This will be the text that shows up on the tile when a mouse is not hovering over it. ACME would enter “Sales” here.

For the Background Image Location, use the URI of the tile image you uploaded earlier. Add a description of the image to aid screen readers and other assistive devices.

Any text you enter in the Description will be displayed when a mouse overs over the tile. Use this to provide a little bit of information about the destination of the link.

Add the destination URI in the Link Location. Give this a description as well.

You can change the way the link will be followed by changing the Launch Behavior. The In page navigation setting is best for most uses and conforms to user expectations about navigation on the web.

The Order provides a weighting to the tile to determine its order in the list of tiles.

Hit the Save button to add the tile to the list.

Display the Tiles on a Site Page

Now that you’ve got a list that contains one (or several) tiles, you need to display the list in a Web Part on a Site Page.

Navigate to the Site Page that the tiles should appear on and go to Edit page in the Settings cog.

On the Insert tab Parts group, select Web Part.

Select Apps in the Categories. In Parts, select the title of the Promoted Links List you created.

Click the Add button to add and display the Promoted Links List.

Save your changes: go to the Format Text tab Edit group and select Save.

Add More Tiles

To add more tiles, just create and upload a new 24-bit PNG file for the tile image (using our established pattern) and add a new item to the Promoted Links List!

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