By Kevin Townsend, Senior Consultant, Bamboo Solutions
Modern site architectures bring a flat view to the SharePoint world as we know it. For so long we have planned, designed, and implemented our SharePoint site architectures around the classic Site/Sub-Site methodology. You may have heard the term “Hub Site” thrown around recently, and today, if you haven’t already jumped into learning about that, I hope to point you in the right direction.
I recently attended the SharePoint Saturday Reston event and had the pleasure of listening in on Susan Hanley’s (MVP) session covering Hub Sites. She tells a compelling story of why the move to Hub Sites is a new and scalable choice for building your site architectures. All the reasons that we used classic site/sub-site architectures in the past have continued to be used because of a few conveniences like inheriting content types, permissions, themes, and navigation(s). But as Susan said, “The business changes”. Internal organizations are often shifted and move to new departments. URL limitations were being hit and URL structures required sites to be migrated to fall in line with their properly placed URL path. Some subsites needed to be “open” and some “closed” to target the right audiences and became serious management chores.
So, what is a SharePoint hub site? Microsoft documentation states:
SharePoint hub sites help you meet the needs of your organization by connecting and organizing sites based on the project, department, division, region, etc. making it easier to:
- discover related content such as news and other site activities,
- apply common navigation and branding across associated sites,
- search across all associated sites.
If I could share with you just a few of the things I’m most excited about regarding hub sites, I’d share this… SharePoint hub sites can associate many site collections and provide a unified and rolled up experience across them. They provide common navigation, search, news and activity rollup across all the associated Site Collection’s content. There are some very powerful web parts provided to you in a hub site to help with consolidating and centralizing information like News Rollup, Associated Sites, and Highlighted Content to help aggregate your content and drive content awareness. A common request is to brand like-minded sites, and this too can be accomplished within a hub. Joining your sites to a hub doesn’t mean they have to inherit the same permissions. You can have any combination of security trimmed sites in your hubs. Sounds really promising, right?
So how does this new flat architecture help?!?!? Most sites will now become… Site Collections. The introduction of hub sites serves the purpose of the top-level site but with a more scalable and modular capability set. This allows for a manageable security solution, feature independence, and the ability to simply move or archive sites as needed without breaking navigation. With this hub site model, you can more modularly and intuitively structure your sites and organizational content.
The SharePoint hub site architecture is not for all sites and does present things to consider before committing. But they do warrant our attention in planning as we move forward with SharePoint in its modern state. There is so much more to understand about hub sites than this brief post might outline, so I urge you to read up on the hub site capabilities and strategies as documented by Microsoft. Knowing the direction this is heading though, could help you build out any new sites in a way that aligns more closely with this strategy and prepares your organization for an inevitable migration in the future to modern SharePoint. May your information architecture adventures be an example of your passion for strategy, artistic flair, and enthusiasm for improvement.