Since working for CSP, lots of my projects have included branding SharePoint solutions. Branding SharePoint primarily consists of Master Pages, Page Layouts and the web parts. However the purpose of this particular blog article is to look more closely at Page Layouts.
So what are page layouts? I would describe a page layout as something that sits within a SharePoint web part page, which makes its appearance slightly different. For example lots of pages have similar layouts. As opposed to creating a new page from scratch, a Master Page coupled with a Page Layout will provide the building blocks required to populate a stylised page with relative ease. Within SharePoint you can build as many layouts as you wish, but best practice would dictate that you promote reusability by making layouts flexible and thus keeping layouts to a minimum. For example as opposed to making one layout to serve one purpose, make a layout to serve two or three purposes.
What are the challenges with creating page layouts? I’ve generally found as long as the guidelines are adhered too, for example layouts are published, approved and tested, there are no major issues. My biggest personal challenge was trying to manipulate something displayed within the Master Page depending upon which page you’re on, (this could only be controlled by the Page Layout).
However, this was at a point when I wasn’t familiar with the good old asp content place holder tags. I soon realised how easy it actually was! Are there any major differences between MOSS and 2010? From personal experience I haven’t found any major differences between page layouts on MOSS and 2010, but I would look out for sporadic issues such as check boxes randomly appearing in IE6!
So in summary, page layouts promote reusability, flexibility and generally facilitate the building blocks required to peace pages together.