Hub Sites in SharePoint Online is the new way of organizing your sites. Now what does that mean?
Based on the size of an organization, SharePoint admins create multiple sub sites to classify and organize content which usually aligns with the organization hierarchy (Department wise). There can be Team Sites and communication sites and yet, Hub sites can consist both these under one umbrella to help you relate them together based on any attribute such as Projects, Departments, Division, Region or whatever you have.
Let me put it in a simple way – Hub Sites will now help you to associate team sites and communication sites to provide a common navigational hierarchy, search, Logos and look and feel.
Hub sites allows you to standardize the site hierarchy. More importantly, it brings the consistency across all sites. Following are some of the characteristics of Hub Sites Capability:
Some of the Hub Site characteristics are:
- A Common Top Navigation (Global Navigation)
A common global navigation is maintained across all connected sites of the particular Hub site.
Sub sites inherits their look and feel from the root (Hub site) which allows you to maintain a single branding across all your sites. In a simple term, all sites are associated, which means they resides under one Hub.
Search acts relevantly here. When you search for something in a Hub site, it performs the search within all the sites of that particular Hub Site.
User activities happens within the associated sites which means, the engagements are specific to an defined area.
Automatically aggregates content and displaying from multiple sites. News Web Part, Sites Web Part and Content Web Part can be used in a Hub Site to aggregate content from the associated sites and display the content on the Hub Site’s home page. This reduces a lot of manual work that developers supposed to do to get this done in the earlier days.
Provisioning a Hub Site:
There are two ways you can create hub sites in SharePoint online (Yes ! for now its only supported in SharePoint online). However, there is no template to create a Hub site so you can’t simply create a one using the “New Site” option. Instead, these are the options you have.
- Create a New site collection and set it as the Hub site
- or Promote an existing site as the Hub Site and associate other site collections to it.
A SharePoint Team Site or an Communication Site can be converted in to a Hub Site. Ensure you have the “SharePoint Administrator privilege or above” in Office 365 to perform these changes.
Step 1: Create a Hub Site in SharePoint (New) Admin Center (UI)
To do this using User Interface, log-in to Office 365 and direct to New SharePoint Admin Center –> Click on “Sites” from the left navigation panel –> Active Sites –> Click on “Create”
Pick “Communications” Site template and go for “Topic” Site design (for example). Define the Site owner and Site name etc.. and hit “Finish” to create the site.
Step2: Registering Hub Site in SharePoint
Now we need to register the Hub site we just provisioned. No big deal here ! just follow these steps.
Navigate to the SPO Admin Center –> Click on “Active Sites” and that shows you all the active site collections. Choose the one you just desired as the Hub and “Register as Hub Site” from the Hub Site Dropdown as shown below.
Fill in the name of the Hub and hit “Save” to complete this.
You will notice the status is update in a few seconds for this site.
Customize Hub Site
We now have the Hub Site created, its time to little bit of tweaking to match organizational theming (logo, theme color, navigation etc..). Something similar to following, you can change the Hub site logo, site logo, theme, navigation etc.. so that it will inherit to the site underneath (Associated)
To do this let’s go to the Hub Site –> Click “Gear” Icon on the top –> Hub Site settings.
You also can edit the Hub site navigation that appears on all connected sites based on the central navigation (Hub). These elements shall inherit from the Hub Site to connected sites automatically. Note: When you customize the Hub Site after connecting other sites in, it will take up to 2 hours to apply the changes in the respective associated sites.
Associating Sites to the Hub:
From the SharePoint Online Admin Center, click on the checkbox next to the site collection you want to associate with the hub, then from the Hub site drop-down list choose the “Associate with a hub site” option. From the list of all the hubs you have available in your tenant, choose the one you want to connect to and hit “Save”.
Choose the relevant Hub you want this site to be associated.
You will notice the status of the site is updated in a few seconds.
Option2: You can also connect a site to an Hub Site using the “Site Information” section of the respective site.
In this case, I have a site called “Partner Engagement” and I have opened up that in the browser.
To do this, navigate to the site that you want to associate with the hub. Click on Settings gear Icon –> Select Site Information –> Choose the Hub Site Association and hit “Save”.
You will immediately notice that Hub Site Characteristics have been inherited to the Associated site.
Moving sites across Hub Sites:
Hub Sites offers the flexibility to attach and detach (connect and disconnected in other words) associated sites. For instance, let’s say my organization decides to isolate Project management and the site needs to move from IT department to PM department. We can simply detach the site from this existing hub to a new hub.
Important Notes: However, this method only works for Modern SharePoint experience. Site collections that are in legacy mode won’t have this abilities so consider upgrading your experience soon if you haven’t !
Also, once you connect with an Hub Site, Navigation, Theme and Logos will be inherited automatically (That’s the whole idea !) to the newly connected sites.
- You can’t associate a one Hub Site to another Hub Site (e.g. Hub A –> Hub B are isolated)
- Also, an associated site can only be connected to one Hub Site
Dealing with the Hub Site Navigation:
Connecting a site collection to the Hub site, doesn’t automatically add links to the Top navigation of the hub site. By default, only the link of the Hub Site appears on top. You have to build rest of the Top Navigation manually in the hub sites.
Here is how: Navigate to the Hub Site –> Hover over to Top Navigation area –> Click on Edit –> Click the “+” sign to add a new link.
Click OK and –> Save.
In my case, I am adding an 3rd item to my global navigation of the “Marketing Hub.
A Finished navigation should look like this and it will reflect across all associated sites.
Connected (Associated) Sites will automatically contain a link back to the SharePoint Online hub site. You will also notice that you can’t change the theme of an associated site, because it inherits the theme from the hub site and that’s the whole purpose of this feature.
For instance, have a look at this site “Statistics” of my setup. It now has all the items in the Global Navigation inherited from the Hub.
When you connect a site collection to an Hub, it doesn’t impact the permissions of the associated site or the Hub. However, you have to ensure that all users who are going to join sites to the Hub site have appropriate permissions to the Hub, that’s it ! the rest shall remain the same.
Detach an associated site from a Hub:
You can disassociate a site being under a Hub if no longer needed. Your navigation and the logo will be gone after disassociating but the theme shall remain the same as it was inherited from the Hub. You need to manually set it to a different one.
To remove the existing hub site association, go ahead and select “None” in Hub Site association drop down list and Save it, simple as that !
Wish you could use PowerShell to do all these? Follow my article no 02 to get the same thins done via PowerShell.
DISCLAIMER NOTE: This is an enthusiast post and is not sponsored by Microsoft or any other vendor.