Do you want to bring together related sites in your intranet?
Well, you may already have heard about the interesting hub sites feature announced way back in 2017.
In this article, let’s talk about how to create a hub site and all the various things you need to know about it.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents:
- What is a hub site?
- How to create a hub site
- How to associate or include sites in a hub
- How to configure the hub site settings
- How to build common navigation in a hub
- How to sync hub permissions to associated sites
- How to remove a hub site and dissociate associated sites
- How to manage hub sites in SharePoint
- What to consider when using a hub site
What is a hub site?
To better understand this new feature, you need to understand first what a hub is in SharePoint:
Basically, you can group various sites together that have similar characteristics, themes, or branding into “hubs”.
Within that hub, the “hub site” will be something like the parent site or the home site of that hub.
Using a hub is more efficient than using the old subsite method. Microsoft is clearly pushing for a more flat architecture.
On the bright side, using a hub site brings you advantages and features like:
- Aggregating news and announcements from all the sites associated with the hub
- Executing a hub-wide search (touching all sites associated with the hub)
- Rolling up content using the highlighted content web part within a hub
- Applying a common theme across the hub
- Applying common navigation across the hub
Naturally, there are also some considerations you need to know regarding hub sites. Check out the last section of this article.
With that, let’s talk about how to actually create a hub site in SharePoint.
How to create a hub site
To start a hub, you need to register a site first as the “hub site”. You can use one that already exists or create a new site.
Note: The best site to choose as a hub site is either a communication site or a team site that uses the new modern template.
Although you can theoretically use any site as a hub site, the following reasons support my recommendation earlier:
- The hub navigation can only be found on modern pages
- The hub site settings only appear on modern sites
Now, once you have determined the site that you want to register as a hub site, follow these steps first:
- In your tenant, click the launcher icon on the upper-left side
- Click the “Admin” option from there
The point here is that you need to get to the SharePoint admin center since that’s where you can register and associate sites to a hub.
Now, on the next page, expand all the admin center options and choose “SharePoint” from there:
Once you’re in the SharePoint admin center, do the following:
- Navigate to the “Active sites” page
- Find or search the site you want to make a hub site
- Select that site
- Click the “Hub” button in the command bar
- Click “Register as hub site” from the options
After you click on that button:
- A panel will slide in from the right where you can name the new hub
- Enter those who can associate sites with the hub
Make sure to click on the “Save” button at the bottom of the panel.
Once that’s done, the site that you selected will now become the hub site of a newly created hub. What’s left now is to associate sites to the hub.
How to associate or include sites in a hub
To associate sites to a hub, you need to be on the same page in the SharePoint admin center when you register a site as a hub site.
Follow these steps:
- Search and find the sites you want to associate with a hub
- Select those sites
- Click on the “Hub” button in the command bar
- Click the “Associate with a hub” option
If you selected more than one site, follow these steps:
- Click on the “Bulk edit” button in the command bar
- Select the “Hub association” option
Whether or not you selected one site only or more, a panel will slide in from the right:
- Select a hub to associate the site with
- Click the “Save” button at the bottom of the panel
After you save the changes, those sites you selected will now be a part of a hub.
How to configure the hub site settings
There are a variety of settings you can configure on a hub site.
To access those settings, follow these steps:
- Navigate to the hub site
- Click on the gear icon on the upper-right side of the page
- Click “Hub site settings” from the options
Here’s some explanation of the settings that you see:
- Hub site navigation logo: The “Upload” button will enable you to use a logo for the hub site, which can be seen from the navigation bar
- Hub name: Change the name and decide whether or not to show it in the navigation bar
- Require approval for associated sites to join: Whether or not sites that want to be associated with a hub need approval
- Parent hub association: Associate the hub with another hub in the tenant
If you remembered during the creation process, you can indicate people who can associate sites with a hub.
In the hub site setting, you can indicate here if you want to receive approval requests every time those persons try to associate a site with a hub.
As for the hub to hub associations, this is what Microsoft has to say about it:
This allows you to create a network of hubs that roll up to each other to create connections and additional search scopes. When hubs are associated with each other, content can be searched for and displayed on hubs up to three levels of association.
It’s a helpful feature when you have numerous hubs in the tenant to facilitate an easier definition of the search scope for related content.
If you want to change anything in the panel, don’t forget to click on the “Save” button.
Right after registering a site as the “hub site”, you may have already seen the navigation bar at the top of the site.
Note: Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that associated sites automatically generate links in the navigation bar.
To make use of it, you need to manually add the links yourself, similar to how you do it in the quick launch navigation menu.
To build the common navigation bar in the hub, follow these steps:
- Navigate back to the hub site
- On the hub navigation bar, click on the “Add link” button
- Fill out the details required
- Click on the “OK” button
When adding a link, you have the following options:
- Associated hubs (sites associated with the hub)
- Associated child hubs (those associated hubs that are lower in the hierarchy)
If you want to add more links, simply hover the mouse over the part where you want to add a new link until you see a plus button:
You can also create a dropdown menu in the hub navigation bar as well:
- Create a new link as usual
- Place it below a parent label
- Click the three dots on that new link
- Select the “Make sub link” option
This is what it will look like after saving the changes:
Note: The number of customizations and options you can do with the hub navigation is similar to the quick launch navigation.
How to sync hub permissions to associated sites
It makes sense to enable the same permissions on the hub site to the associated sites since users will likely navigate through them.
Fortunately, there’s no need for you to manually do so. With one button, you can enable the syncing of permissions across the hub.
Note: Syncing hub permissions doesn’t impact or change current permissions on the hub site or the associated sites.
To do this, follow these steps:
- Navigate back to the hub site
- Click on the gear icon on the upper-right side
- Click “Site permissions” on the panel
- Switch to the “Hub” tab in the panel
- Click the slider to “On” to enable the feature
- Enter the hub visitors you want to give access to
When setting the hub visitors, it makes sense to allow everyone except for external users to access the hub.
But feel free to enter specific persons or groups that fit your permission policy. As long as you follow great security practices, you will be fine.
How to remove a hub site and dissociate associated sites
When removing a hub site or dissociating hubs, you need to be in the same place where you can register and associate sites.
To sum up how to navigate to the “SharePoint admin center”:
- Click the app launcher icon on the upper-left side of any page in your tenant
- Click the “Admin” button
- On the next page, expand all the options for admin centers
- Select “SharePoint” from the list
- From there, go to the “Active sites” page
Note: If you want to remove a hub site, make sure you do this before deleting the site itself to avoid dissociating the whole hub.
If you want to unregister a hub site, follow these steps:
- Select the name of the hub site from the list
- Click the “Hub” button in the command bar
- Select “Unregister as hub site” from the options
If you want to dissociate a site from a hub:
- Select the name of the site that you want to dissociate from a hub
- Click the “Hub” button in the command bar
- Select “Change hub association” from the options
A panel will then slide in from the right:
- On the form, select the “None” option
- Click on the “Save” button at the bottom
Some notes when unregistering a hub site or dissociating sites from a hub:
- Naturally, this action will remove the hub navigation bar on the top of the page.
- Unfortunately, some of the inherited hub site designs might remain like applications and custom lists.
- Those web parts in the home page that show hub data will now show data only found in the “dissociated” or “unregistered” site.
The ability to create hubs might be overwhelming for some users — and may lead to unwise decisions and inefficient work.
Here are some tips on how to manage hub sites in SharePoint:
- Make sure to create a plan on how to design the architecture of the hub and the hub site. This includes resources, users, and even features. All these have to fit your organization’s needs so you can make use of the advantages of hubs.
- The search scope will now even be wider with the use of hubs. For this reason, you need to plan this ahead of time too so employees can have an easier time finding files and documents later on.
- To help with limiting the search, make sure to use naming conventions on your site names, files, and documents. Don’t overlook using as much metadata as possible too on each of your files.
- Test your hub site and make sure users will be able to use it intuitively. It also helps if you test out the hub’s mobile-friendliness and how optimized it is for users who may need to use mobile devices. Naturally, fix what you need to do before rolling it out to the rest of your organization.
- Ask for feedback from your users. Since they will be using it as heavily as you, they may have some insights on how to better improve the hubs in your tenant. Make sure to ask for suggestions too.
What to consider when using a hub site
Now, hub sites are a great addition to your list of arsenals to make SharePoint a better platform for your organization.
Along with these, here are some considerations you have to think about when using hub sites:
- You can have a maximum of 2,000 hub sites. Although it’s rare for you to reach this limit, it’s good to know that you have as many hub sites as you might need. There’s also no limit to how many sites you can associate with a hub site.
- You can only associate a site with one hub only. On the other hand, you can associate various hubs with each other and put up links on either hub navigation. This can extend the search scope as well.
- News posts go up from associated sites to the hub — and not the other way around. If you want your news to reach as many people as possible, publish it to the hub site instead.
Do you have any questions regarding hub sites? If so, feel free to write a comment below with your question.
For inquiries and other concerns, please use the site’s contact form to reach out and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.