While Information Architecture is a big part of SharePoint projects, the newest guidance from the product team is to create what I’m calling the “flat world” where everything is a site collection sitting under sites. If everything is flat structurally you can then use the new hub sites to build the structure up and to build the hierarchies gaining new search, navigation, and activity rollups including powerful mobile aggregation experiences across multiple team sites and communication sites.
You can associate various team sites and communication sites to structure, model and promote an organization of content that reflects the way your people, teams and groups organize into departments and line of business units. Mark Kashman from Microsoft blogged about this, “Hub sites provide common navigational structure, look and feel, and search across associated sites. Hub sites also aggregate news and activities from associated sites and display the roll-up on the hub site’s home page.”
Note any given team site or communication site can only be associated to one hub site, this associates a scoped search experience, an aggregated news, visible site activities that become exposed and dynamic relevant navigation experience. It will be easy to join or un join to a hub site.
While Microsoft has explained that these hub sites won’t be available until mid next year, there is some very relevant and important news that organizations everywhere should be considering even today. Information architecture in collaboration and Intranet structures in SharePoint should support more site collections rather than less. You should be architecting site collection structures with team boundaries rather than crossing multiple teams and putting them both in the same team site. Even with multiple departments, it would be better to make them each a communication site that could then be rolled up and aggregated.
Clients that are having issues with large databases due to putting too much in a single site collection and ending up with massive content databases will find that it is easier to move a site collection into a dedicated database than it is to split up a single site collection by webs later into multiple sites. The site collection boundary is a very important unit of measurement that just became even more powerful with the planned support for hub sites.
5 Reasons to Plan your Information Architecture with Site Collections in the new Flat World of Hub Sites
- More easily supports database splits
- Supports a fixed quota for those looking to manage growth
- Supports an easier and more secure security boundary with inheritance
- Site Collections are easier to backup and restore
- Easier to archive and delete unused sites
Customers may still decide to support large knowledge management portals with deeper site structures, but for the broad category of general collaboration, architects should consider the flat world design and go with a virtual information architecture with the planned hub sites.