SharePoint 2013 – Enabling Design Manager

Design Manager is a new feature in SharePoint 2013 that puts some structure around management of branding and styling SharePoint sites and pages.  It is only available on SharePoint Server and only with Publishing sites, or on sites where publishing features have been enabled. 

With Office 365, you will need a level that has publishing enabled. 

If you’re starting from a publishing site, it’s pretty easy to access.  You can just click the Settings menu item and the Design Manager is available. 


You can also access it via the Site Settings page under Look and Feel. 


If, however, you’re starting from a site that is not a publishing template – like a Team Site, you need to turn a few things on.  Nothing difficult, but a little confusing to some because you have to activate more than one feature and while you’re in the middle state it may not be entirely intuitive.

The Team Site does not show the Design Manager in either the Settings dropdown or the Site Settings page.  But you do have a quick link to the ‘Look’ / Theming feature. 



So, to get things enabled, you need to:

  1. Turn on the Site Collection Feature
    1. Site Settings
    2. Site Collection Features under Site Collection Administration
    3. Activate –> SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure
    4. Site Settings page now displays like:
  2. Turn on the Site Feature
    1. Site Settings
    2. Manage Site Features under Site Actions
    3. Activate –> SharePoint Server Publishing
    4. The Settings menu dropdown now changes to:

Now everything is as you would expect it. 

GOTCHA NOTE: If, however, you activate the site collection feature, but NOT the site feature, you’ll be able to access Design Manager via the Site Settings page, but NOT the Settings dropdown menu. 

Again, not a huge deal, but something that may be a little confusing. 


  1. I followed the instructions you have posted and the publishing feature is already activated, but I am still unable to see a link to the Design Manager. I am listed as a site owner with full control so I am confused as to why I do not have the option to use the Design Manager feature.

    Any info is appreciated.


  2. Thank you for the clear descriptions. Despite this, I do not see the Design Manager in my recently converted 2010 to 2013 site collection. They have implemented the behind the scenes infrastructure, but not yet allowed the upgrade to the 2013 look and feel. I suspect this will not be available until the switch there as well.

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