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Understanding the SharePoint Hub Site

Do you ever feel lost navigating your company's intranet, unsure where to find the information you need?  Perhaps your organization struggles with a cluttered information architecture, making it difficult for employees to discover relevant content.  If this sounds familiar, then SharePoint Hub Site might be the solution you've been searching for. SharePoint Hub Site organizes and connects related SharePoint sites, creating a central hub for specific departments, projects, or topics.  This article will guide you through the SharePoint Hub Site, explaining its key features and how they can transform your intranet into a user-friendly and efficient platform.


What is SharePoint Hub Site?

SharePoint Hub Site is a key building block of the SharePoint intranet in Office 365. They provide a way to organize sites based on project, department, division, region, etc., into a hub of related sites. This helps to create a common navigational structure and apply common branding across associated sites.


A SharePoint Hub Site is essentially a site that other sites can associate with. When a team site or communication site is associated with a hub site, it inherits common characteristics, including:

  • Navigation: A top link bar is shared across all sites associated with the hub, providing a common navigation experience.

  • Look and feel: The hub site’s theme (including logo, color, and header layout) is applied to all associated sites.

  • Search: Search results are scoped to all sites associated with the hub.


Importance of SharePoint Hub Site in Organizing Intranet

The importance of SharePoint Hub Site in organizing an intranet lies in their ability to bring together related sites, making it easier for users to discover related content, news, and site activity across their organization. This is a shift away from the traditional, hierarchical site structure based on subsites. With hub sites, you have a flexible, flat structure of sites that are easy to reorganize as your organization changes.


Limitations of SharePoint Subsites:

  • Inflexibility: Subsites are a physical construct reflected in the URL for content. If you reorganize your business relationships, you break all the intranet relationships in your content.

  • Governance Challenges: Many features (including policy features like retention and classification) in SharePoint apply to all sites within the site collection, whether you want them to or not.

  • Limited Number: You can create up to 2,000 subsites per site. Microsoft recommends creating sites and organizing them into hubs instead of creating subsites.


Flexibility Offered by SharePoint Hub Site:

  • Scalability and Flexibility: Hub Sites offer a flexible and scalable way to organize SharePoint sites. As organizations grow or change, you can add, remove, or reorganize sites within the hub structure without disrupting the overall information architecture.

  • Simplified Administration: Hub Sites reduce the complexity of managing multiple sites through shared navigation, design elements, and site settings from a central location.

  • Enhanced Collaboration: Hub Sites promote better communication and collaboration among team members by connecting related sites.


SharePoint Hub Site Other Sites

Now, let’s compare SharePoint Hub Site with other SharePoint sites:

Factors

SharePoint Hub Site

Other SharePoint Site

Purpose

Hub Sites are designed to connect and organize related SharePoint site collections within an organization.

Team Sites are designed for collaboration among members of a team or department. Communication Sites are designed to broadcast information to a broader audience.

Navigation

Hub Sites provide shared navigation across connected sites.

Navigation is typically unique to each site.

Look and Feel

Hub Sites enforce a consistent look and feel across connected sites.

Each site can have its unique branding and design.

Content Roll-up

Hub Sites allow for content roll-up from associated sites.

Content is typically contained within each site.

Scalability

Hub Sites offer easy scalability as organizations grow or change.

Scalability can be more challenging with individual sites.


Understanding the Building Blocks of Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 provides three main building blocks to help you create your intranet in a way that allows you to configure experiences that align with your organization, your employees, and your readiness.


Consider the below image depicting communication sites and team sites within a SharePoint hub site:

These building blocks are:

  1. Team Sites (Collaboration): Team sites facilitate collaboration within a team or department. They provide a shared space where team members can work on project deliverables, plan an event, track status, or exchange ideas. Team sites are connected by default to a Microsoft 365 group to deliver a full range of communication and collaboration tools, including Microsoft Teams and Planner.

  2. Communication Sites (Communication): Communication sites are designed to broadcast the information to a broader audience. They are typically used to share news, reports, statuses, and other information with people across the organization. Communication site owners often want to include an engagement component.

  3. Hub Sites (Connection): Hub sites are designed to connect and organize related SharePoint site collections within an organization. They provide a common navigation experience and look and feel across all sites.


The three types of building blocks share a common structure. For example, they share the same set of internal web parts. However, there are some fundamental differences in intent, usage expectations, governance (including how they are created), and how and which web parts you might use on each type of site.


The emphasis for each of these elements can vary based on organizational priorities. Different organizations will use the building blocks in various ways, but the building blocks reflect common patterns that organizations use to get work done.


SharePoint Hub Site Features

  • Shared Navigation: The SharePoint Hub Site provides a common navigation experience across all associated sites. When a site is connected with a hub site, it inherits the top link bar from the hub site. This helps users navigate between different sites associated with the hub easily and intuitively.

  • Shared Branding: The look and feel of the hub site, including the site theme, logo, and header layout, are applied to all associated sites. This ensures a consistent branding and user experience across all sites.

  • Content Roll-up: SharePoint Hub Site aggregates and displays content from all associated sites. This includes news, activities, and other site content. This feature will allow users to stay updated with the latest information across all associated sites without visiting each site individually.

  • Scoped Search: When users search on a hub site, the search results are scoped to all sites connected with the hub. This means users can find relevant information from any associated sites from the hub site.

  • A SharePoint Hub Site is a “home” or “landing page” for all associated sites. It provides a central place where users can find aggregated news, activities, and search results from all sites.

  • The hub site can also be customized to include additional pages, web parts, and applications to meet the specific organization's needs.


What factors you should consider when deciding what should be a hub site

When planning your SharePoint Hub Site, there are several factors to consider:

  1. Purpose of the Hub Site: Consider what role the hub site will play in your organization. Will it connect sites based on department, region, project, or other criteria?

  2. Number of Hub Sites: SharePoint administrators can decide the number of hub sites required. Creating a single hub site for the entire organization can be a good starting point, but deploying more hub sites can reduce information overload effectively.

  3. Permissions: Consider who will have permission to connect sites to hub sites.

  4. Change Management: Businesses are always evolving, and your intranet should be able to adapt to these changes. SharePoint Hub Site model relationships as links, rather than hierarchy or ownership, to adapt to changes in your work.


Tips on How to Organize Your Hub Site

Efficient Structure: Start with an efficient, organized structure to make navigation easier. Plan your site hierarchy logically.

  1. User Needs: Consider user needs and how they’ll access the content. This will reduce clutter and promote efficient navigation.

  2. Association and Navigation: It is not necessary to have a hub site for each function. However, when many logically different functions come under a section, it is practical to create a hub site.

  3. Managing the Mega Menu: The Hub site is optimized to organize and present links to other locations. Clicking Edit on the top menu opens a simple three-level outline list on the left.

  4. Deciding on The Number of Hub Sites: As explained earlier, SharePoint admins can check the number of hub sites required. Creating a single hub site for the entire organization will be a good step.


Conclusion

SharePoint Hub Site offers a powerful approach to organizing and streamlining your intranet. By implementing Hub Sites, you can create a user-friendly and efficient platform that empowers employees to find the information they need quickly and easily.


Here are some key takeaways to remember:

  • The consistent shared navigation across associated sites eliminates confusion and streamlines information access.

  • Users can discover relevant content from connected sites, even if they haven't followed them individually.

  • Consistent branding across all associated sites fosters a professional and cohesive intranet environment.

  • Easier navigation and centralized access to information lead to increased user productivity and satisfaction.

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