SharePoint FAQs: Home, Hub, Root sites & start page

Image: SharePoint blog Hero image
By James Mallalieu on

SharePoint FAQs: Home, Hub, Root sites & start page

Modern SharePoint is evolving at a phenomenal pace and over recent years significant new features have been introduced and established design practices challenged.

N.B. Webinar, 25th Feb 2020, 11:00 GMT – Modern SharePoint. Inform and engage your people with home sites and hubs

I have the pleasure of working with many clients and over recent months have found several common questions that arise specifically relating to SharePoint Home, Hub, Root sites and Start Page. To help with my discussions I have gathered these together in this article and shared in the hope that others might find it useful.

Contents:

The SharePoint Root Site
SharePoint Home Sites
The SharePoint Start Page
SharePoint Hub Sites


The SharePoint Root Site

What is the Root site?

The root site is automatically provisioned and exists at the top of your SharePoint URL domain [https://[yourdomain].sharepoint.com].
All other sites within the environment will exist within this domain, under a managed path:
[https://[yourdomain].sharepoint.com/sites/[SiteUrl]
[https://[yourdomain].sharepoint.com/teams/[SiteUrl]

Image: SharePoint Communication Site image

Due to the simplicity of the SharePoint root site web address, many organisations look to make this their top intranet landing page.

What type of SharePoint site is my root site?

It depends on when your environment was created. In older environments (prior to April 2019) the root site will be a classic team site whereas in environments created more recently the root site will be a modern communication site.

How do I know if my root site is a classic team site or modern communication site?

If your root site looks like the image above, it is a modern communication site.

Can I convert my root site from a classic team site to a communication site?

Yes. You can replace the existing root site with a modern communication site that you have created elsewhere in your environment.
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/modern-root-site#swap-your-root-site
In the future you will also be able to apply the communication site experience to an existing classic root site.
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/modern-root-site#apply-the-communication-site-experience-to-the-root-site-coming-soon

Can I register my root site as a Home site?

Yes. The root site can be registered as a Home Site (providing it is a modern communication site).

Can I register my root site as a Hub site?

Yes. The root site can be registered as a hub site.

Can I delete the SharePoint root site?

Yes, but do not do this as all your  sites will become inaccessible to users.


SharePoint Home Sites

What is a Home site?

A Home site is intended to be the top Intranet landing page for all users within your organisation.
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/SharePoint/home-site

Is a Home site a new type of site template?

No. There is no site template for a Home site, an existing communication site can be registered as a Home site.

How do I register a SharePoint site as a Home site?

The admin can register an existing site as a Home site via PowerShell.
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/SharePoint/home-site#set-a-site-as-your-home-site

What happens to site that is registered as a Home site?

Registering a site as a Home site has 4 primary effects:

– Searching from the site will return results from the entire environment,
– News published in the Home Site will be marked as “Official”,
– The branding, theme, navigation and footer will be applied to the  start page,
– The mobile app home icon will link to the Home site.

Image: SharePoint Home site image

Is a Home site different from a Hub site?

Yes. A SharePoint site can be registered as a Home site, a Hub site, either or neither.

Can I have multiple Home sites?

No. At the current site there can be only one designated Home site within your environment.


The SharePoint Start Page

What is the SharePoint start page?

The start page is where people can easily find and access SharePoint sites and portals within the organisation. They will also find news from the sites they are following, suggested sites, and news from sites you visit frequently, and other news recommended by the Microsoft Graph.

Image: SharePoint start page

How do I access the SharePoint start page?

The start page is accessed via the icon link on the Office 365 app launcher and home page.

Image: Office 365 start page with SharePoint icon

The start page is also accessed via the SharePoint link on the Office 365 suite bar and navigation link on a Home site.

Image: Office 365 suite bar

Can I customise the layout of the Start Page?

No.

Can I centrally control the content displayed on the SharePoint start page?

The admin can publish a set of featured links that are displayed to users on the start page, these links can be to both SharePoint and non-SharePoint content.
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/change-links-list-on-sharepoint-home-page

Image: SharePoint start page centrally customised content image

Can I brand the SharePoint start page?

Yes, the start page will automatically adopt the branding, theme, navigation and footer applied to your Home site. You cannot independently brand it.

Image: SharePoint start page branding image

Can I remove the SharePoint start page?

No, the start page is integral to the overall user experience whether this is via the browser or mobile app.


SharePoint Hub Sites

What are Hub sites?

Hub sites enable you to organise and connect sites based on project, department, division, region, etc. making it easier to:

– Discover related content such as news and other site activities
– Apply common navigation, branding, and site structure across associated sites
– Search across all associated sites

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/planning-hub-sites

Is a Hub site a new type of site template?

No. There is no site template for a Hub site, an existing SharePoint site can be registered as a Hub site.

Can I register any type of site as a Hub site?

Yes, however it is recommended that only modern communication or modern team sites are registered as Hub sites, not classic sites.

Can I have multiple Hub sites?

Yes. You can create up to 2,000 hub sites.

How do I register a SharePoint site as a Hub site?

The admin can register/deregister sites as Hub sites from within the Admin Center or via PowerShell.
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/create-hub-site

Image: SharePoint admin page screen shot

What happens to site that is registered as a Hub site?

Registering a site as a Hub site has 3 primary effects:

– Hub navigation options are enabled
– Searching from the Hub site will return results from all sites associated with the Hub site.
– Some web parts enable content to be surfaced from all sites associated with the Hub site, for example the News web part.

Image: SharePoint Hub Site image

How do I associate a site with a Hub site?

The site owner can associate a site with a Hub Site. There are options to restrict site association or invoke an approval process.

Image: SP site association with Hub site

The admin can associate a site with a Hub Site from within the Admin Center or via PowerShell.

What happens to a site that is associated with a Hub site?

Associating a site with a Hub site has the following effects:

– The Hub site navigation will be displayed when viewing the site.
– The Hub site branding will be applied to the site.
– Content from the site will be included in the search results returned when searching in the Hub site.

Image: SP Hub site navigation image

Do site permissions get affected when associating it with a Hub site?

Not yet. This is on the roadmap and will optionally enable the Hub site user permissions to be applied to the associated site.

Can I associate a site with multiple Hub sites?

No. A site may only be associated with a single Hub site at any one time.

How many sites can I associate with a Hub site?

There is no limit in the number of sites you can associate with a Hub site.

Can I still use SharePoint sub-sites?

Yes, however I would recommend avoiding the use of sub-sites, instead focusing on site architectures that make use of a Hub sites with associated sites.

Can I associate one Hub site with another Hub site?

Not yet. This is on the roadmap and will enable a Hub site to be associated with another Hub site. This will enable search results from the associated Hub Site (including associated sites) to be included in the search results of the primary Hub site.


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