Setting Up SharePoint Online Hub Sites

With the recently announced roll out of SharePoint Online Hub Sites, I was able to set one up in my Office 365 tenant. I am excited to apply this capability to intranet solutions where applicable.

For introduction and background, read Organize your intranet with SharePoint hub sites
SharePoint hub sites bring the following new capabilities to you and your intranet: 

  • Cross-site navigation– increase visibility of and navigation among associated sites
  • Content rollup– read aggregated news and discover related site activities
  • Consistent look-and-feel– establish a common theme to improve visitor awareness of connected sites
  • Scoped search– focus on finding content that resides within the hub site’s associated sites”

How do I create a Hub Site?
You can’t really create one directly, you rather register or activate an existing site collection to be a hub site.

Where do I create a Hub site?
As of March 24, 2018, you can’t register through the user interface. You have to install SharePoint Online Management PowerShell and use the Register-SPOHubSite commandlet.

How do I know if Hub Sites has rolled out to my Office 365 tenant?
Until I am aware of a more definitive way through the UI, I can only know by actually trying to setup one up.

Here are my steps to setup Hub Sites

  1. Run the following PowerShell script with a site collection in mind. For me, I used an existing modern community site that I created months ago.
    
    $adminUPN="your account email"
    $orgName="your tenant name"
    $userCredential = Get-Credential -UserName $adminUPN -Message "Type the password."
    Connect-SPOService -Url https://$orgName-admin.sharepoint.com -Credential $userCredential
    
    Get-SPOSite https://<tenantName>.sharepoint.com/sites/CommunicationSite
    $site = 'https://<tenantName>.sharepoint.com/sites/CommunicationSite'
    Register-SPOHubSite $site
    

    setuphubsite

    Grant-SPOHubSiteRights $site -Principals "" -Rights Join
    

    setuphubsite2

    Get-SPOHubSite
    

    setuphubsite3

    $hubSite = Get-SPOSite $site
    $hubSite.HubSiteId
    $hubSite.IsHubSite
    

    setuphubsite4

    For more details, read Create a SharePoint hub site using PowerShell

  2. Going to the browser and visiting the communication site, I am able to observe UI changes in the hub site cross-site navigation and a Hub Site settings fly out menu. Note: Even though you can register via PowerShell, you won’t see UI changes until this hub sites is rolled out in your tenant.
    setuphubsite5
  3. Clicking Hub site settings, I decide to change the Hub Site display name from Community Site to Hub Site.
    setuphubsite6
  4. I go back to the site in browser and refresh the page and see the display name changesetuphubsite7
  5. To associate a site collection to the hub site, go to the site collection’s Site Information
    setuphubsite8
    Click Hub site association drop down for the list of registered hub sites
    setuphubsite9
  6. For the hub site cross-site navigation, the associated site collection URL does not automatically get added to it. You have to do it manually. Here I have added some already.
    setuphubsite10
    Are the hub site navigation menu’s security trimmed?
    No. If the user does not have access, upon clicking on the link, they will get access is denied and prompted to request access. Hopefully in future, security trimming of navigation links can be supported.
     
  7.  Upon associating a few site collections and manually adding the links to the hub site menu, you can see the added links in the hub site cross-site navigation (green arrow). My Communication Site site collection, registered to be the hub site, has its local site navigation.
    setuphubsite11
  8. When visiting the associated Finance site collection, the hub site cross-site navigation appears as expected. Note that this Finance site collection is created from Team site classic template. So, this shows that you can associate any existing classic sites to a hub site.
    setuphubsite12
  9. Responsive Design. When at the hub site’s home page, I shorten the browser width, the hub site cross-site navigation disappears.
    setuphubsite13
    Yet a hamburger menu at top left appears that only displays the current site collection’s navigation.
    setuphubsite14
    But when I go to a page in the site other than the home page, the hamburger menu does display the hub site’s cross-site navigation highlighted in purple.
    setuphubsite15
    This pattern is the same for associated site collections. For example, you go to the associated Finance site collection’s home page, and you won’t see the hub site navigation. In my opinion, I feel this is a gap from the extent of my exposure. I am open to any clarifications in the comments below.Also, how does one navigate back to the hub site in this menu? I am not able to. When I click on “Hub site”, it just expands/collapse the menu only.setuphubsite16

Conclusion

Hub Sites adopts the principle of a flat hierarchy of site collections rather than through sub sites. So, it is generally recommended to avoid sub sites with this pattern. Like any newly introduced feature, there is room for improvement and so watch for the road map as it only gets better.

2 thoughts on “Setting Up SharePoint Online Hub Sites

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