Traditionally, SharePoint site architecture has used sites and sub sites to organize content into related groups. As your business continues to evolve and the digital workplace becomes more dynamic, SharePoint hub sites have emerged as the preferred solution, taking the place of sub sites which tend to be less flexible when it comes to change.
What are SharePoint hub sites?
The basic idea behind a hub site is that it allows organizations to quickly associate sites based on departments, units, projects, or alike areas. For example, if an organization’s sales department has several regional units (e.g. Northwest region, South region, East region, etc.), it might make sense to associate the sites for each region under a single “Sales” hub site. Each site associated with the hub will share similar navigation, logo, and theme, allowing for improved search and content roll up. This way, any time a member from one of the regions posts a news article or an event on a region site, those updates will roll up to the main Sales hub site. This way, the entire Sales department can have visibility to each region’s updates.
What are the benefits of using hub sites?
By using hub sites in your organization’s SharePoint environment, you will be able to utilize the following 4 powerful features:
1. Persistent Cross-Site Navigation & Branding:
Any site associated with a hub site will share common navigation, branding (theme), and logo. This can improve visitor awareness, as the common branding will be recognized across the related sites.
2. Content Discovery:
Hub sites offer valuable functionality commonly referred to as “content roll up.” What this means is – certain content and activity published on any site associated with a hub can roll up to the hub site. You can use web parts on the hub site to display this rolled up content. For example:
- The “News” web part can display news posts on the hub site that have been published on any of the associated sites.
- The “Site” web part can display sites that have been associated to the hub. This gives users a quick glance at which sites they may want to visit or start following if they’re new to the hub.
- The “Events” web part can display events on the hub site that have been created on any of the associated sites.
3. Flexibility & Dynamic Association:
As organizational changes occur, the intranet will need to be reorganized to reflect the organization’s new structure. Doing this with the site/sub site model can present challenges and become time-consuming. With hub sites, associating a site to a new hub is as easy as a few clicks. For example, if your organization’s Communications department is under the HR unit of your org structure, but your organization recently decided that Communications will now be part of the Marketing unit, you can easily move the Communications SharePoint site to the Marketing hub in just a few easy steps.
4. Scoped Search:
When searching on any site that’s a part of a hub, users can focus on finding content that resides within the hub, while still respecting security.
A few other important notes:
- Communication and Team sites can both be associated with a hub.
- A site can only be associated with one hub at a time.
- If a site is associated with a hub, it does not inherit the hub site’s permissions. Permissions still need to be set at the site level first. Associating a site to a hub, in no way, will change that site’s current permissions.
SharePoint is a robust tool for communication and collaboration between Teams. While hub sites are making it easier for organizations to help users find the content they need, it will require some thoughtful upfront planning to ensure your hub site structure meets the needs of your business. Contact us to learn more about how to best apply these capabilities to your specific organization.