SharePoint hub sites are currently rolling out, so it is time to dive into the hub. What are hub sites? Well, Microsoft is promoting it like this:

SharePoint sites are the building blocks of the mobile and intelligent intranet. SharePoint hub sites bring together related sites to roll up news and activity, and to create cohesion with shared navigation and look-and-feel. A hub site can have both team sites and communication sites associated under it.

So, I think it is fair enough to take a closer look. There is also a German article if you want to check that out. As in the whole Mastering common challenges in Office 365 series, the topics and links to the sections in this article:

Before starting, I think it is a good idea to check the current limitations on hub sites, just that everybody is on the same page.

Limitations

  1. Only SharePoint administrators can create hub sites.
  2. You can add a classic teams site to your hub sites, but you don’t get the cross-site navigation on it and they keep their design.
  3. You can only create up to 50 hub sites. (I am quite sure, that will change in the future).
  4. If you setup SharePoint Multi-Geo for your organization = No hub sites.
  5. You can not associate a hub site with another hub site.

There are a few other limitations, but from my point of view, those are the most relevant.

A little note before you go on reading: You need PowerShell, maaaaybe you check out my article about that to be prepared. 🙂 So let us jump directly into the topic on how do you create a hub site.

Create a hub site

My choice for creating a hub site is the SharePoint Online Management Shell. Open it, connect to your tenant and your SharePoint service:

Connect to SharePoint Service
Connect to SharePoint Service

In this article I am promoting a communication site called “Blogarticles2” as the hub site. After this you might want to specify a mail-enabled security group. If you don’t do this, all site owners will be able to associate their sites to the hub. Before registering my site it looked like this:

Communication site before promoting as hub site
Communication site before promoting as hub site

The command that should stick to your head is:

Of course your tenant is not called “afrait”, so you have to change that, as well as the site.

Register a hub site
Register a hub site

Then, after a refresh of my old communication it looks now like this:

Hub site first look
Hub site first look

You immediately see the cross-site navigation and if you open the settings menu you find a new menu item called “Hub site settings”.

Associate a site to the hub

Now let’s connect a site to your new and shiny hub site. The UI-way, I call it “klicksibunti” in German, which translates to “clickycolorful” 🙂  is super easy, but there is also a command for the PowerShell lovers out there.

If you want to stick to the UI, open the settings of your page you want to connect with the hub site and select the site information.

Site information of future associated site
Site information of future associated site

Select the hub site you want to associate the site with and save it. In the following drop-down you can also set it to none to disassociate your site. Note: You can only connect one site to one hub site.

Association of site to hub site
Association of site to hub site

After you saved your settings your site is connected and you find the cross-site navigation on the top.

Celebrate your hub site
Celebrate your hub site

Cross-site navigation

So, what is it good for? No, NOT absolutely nothing. It is really good, because you have now a navigation across your sites. The whole Office 365 group concept is sometimes a little bit lacking of structure and navigation. You can now add links to your connected sites and the connected sites have always a way back. It is your choice what you do with it. You can connect e.g. HR, Finance, IT etc. and build a hub site as an entry point to your organization, or you can do more “nonsense” navigation 🙂

Nonsense cross-site navigation
Nonsense cross-site navigation

Even nonsense cross-site navigation works pretty well on your mobile SharePoint app.

Cross-site navigation in SharePoint app on iOS / iPad
Cross-site navigation in SharePoint app on iOS / iPad

Content rollup

Microsoft recommends to use the news web part, sites web part and highlighted content web part. Keep in mind, that it takes some time for Microsoft Graph / SharePoint Search to find that information.

rolled up news from sites on hub site level
rolled up news from sites on hub site level

Consistent branding

If you want to change the theme of an connected site to a hub you will get the following message:

Theme change disabled for connected sites
Theme change disabled for connected sites

I thought, that the theme is then the same as the one from the hub site. Apparently in my tests, it is not. As in the picture above, my site is still black. Also on the mobile app it is again different. (Picture “triple” above). Maybe that takes more time to sync (waited now for several hours), or is not completely ready.

Summary

Hub sites are really cool, especially for empowering your users. They get even more freedom and capabilities with this feature. Keep in mind, that you sometimes still want to restrict a few things. As you know there are always two sides of the coin.

If you want to see more about Hub sites you can check the live show Intranet Strategy & Planning with SharePoint Hub Sites & Office 365 this Wednesday, March 28th. There are some incredible people talking!

If you liked this article, please share it and follow me on Twitter to stay up-to-date with my upcoming articles!

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