Understanding the SharePoint home siteMicrosoft 365 SharePoint
As modern SharePoint has a flat structure and no rigid hierarchy between sites, a home site helps users navigate around the environment but it comes with some challenges too.
When the number of SharePoint sites grows in your organisation you need to start thinking about elegant ways of uniting them. Until now we have relied on hub sites and information architecture. This approach generally worked fine but still had some limitations, especially for larger organisations.
With a release of a new feature called the ‘home site’ we can easily overcome those constraints and create more robust solutions.
In this article you will learn about technical aspects of a home site, capabilities offered by a home site and we’ll clarify the features that are not provided by a home site.
- A home site is not a new type of a site, and it doesn’t replace communication or team sites. Rather it is an add-on that lets you set one of your communication sites as ‘home’, making that site the main site of your SharePoint environment.
- Only one home site can be created for a tenancy, meaning everyone in the organisation has one point of entry.
- Only a communication site can be set as a home site. It is not possible to set a team site as a home site.
- Any communication site can be set as a home site. You can use an existing communication site or create a new one and mark it as home.
- A site can be set as ‘home’ in the SharePoint Admin Centre or by using a PowerShell script.
- Pages can be built with the same web parts available on communication sites.
What the home site provides
The main intention of the home site is to join decentralised SharePoint sites and hubs under one umbrella and provide a sense of unity and a smoother user experience. This is achieved by a few features that come exclusively with a home site.
A landing page
The home page of the home site will become the main landing page for SharePoint. A Home button is added to SharePoint mobile app which links to the home site.
Ensure you prioritise content and resources that are relevant to most employees and consider creating targeted news and content to add value for visitors.
For a quick start with your home site, Microsoft offers a home site template called The Landing in the SharePoint look book. The template provides an example of how the home page can be structured and what useful web parts can be added.
The home site serves as the gateway to other portals in your SharePoint environment by enabling global navigation in the SharePoint app bar. The app bar can be accessed on the left anywhere in SharePoint and displays navigation as well as shortcuts to personalised content such as news, sites and files. You can configure the global navigation and add a logo to the app bar.
In addition to the global navigation, consider making your home site a hub site to expand navigational options. The hub site provides a horizontal mega menu at the top of the page, automatically displaying all connected sites and can be used as global navigation in the app bar too.
The home site let you search for content across the entire organisation’s SharePoint environment. This feature adds a lot of value to users as it helps them find information quicker, no matter where it was originally posted or saved.
Official organisational news
News posts created from the home site automatically become official organisational news and take priority on the SharePoint start page and in the home section of the SharePoint mobile app.
Integration with Microsoft Teams
Previously an organisation’s intranet and Microsoft Teams were two very separate platforms with no easy way to navigate between them.
The home site now enables integration with Microsoft Teams via Viva Connections.
You can create this integration by adding an icon linked to your home site to the navigation app bar in Microsoft Teams. Users will then able to interact with the home site directly from Teams, helping drive engagement and increasing the value of both platforms.
What the home site does not provide
As we get excited about features enabled by a home site it’s important to remember that there are some aspects that are not facilitated by a home site and need to be managed separately.
The look and feel of the home site is not automatically applied to other sites. Unlike hub sites, the home site does not orchestrate branding of other sites. To maintain consistent style across your SharePoint portals you need to manually apply the theme to each site or use a site template. Alternatively consider making your home site a hub to automatically implement logo and colours on connected sites.
Permissions are not managed through the home site. Again, unlike hub sites, the home site does not sync and manage permissions of multiple sites. If you would like to simplify the process of permission management, consider making your home site a hub site. However, remember that the home site is an exceptional site with a very different purpose and perhaps permissions should be managed separately from the rest of your SharePoint.
The home site doesn’t become your root site automatically. The root site has the shortest url, like companyname.sharepoint.com, meaning users will land on this site if they enter the address manually in a browser. To avoid confusion and ensure a nice user experience consider making your tenancy’s root site the home site.
SharePoint start page
The SharePoint start page will remain and can’t be replaced with your home landing page. The SharePoint start page is a page that lists all the sites a user follows, and frequently and recently visited sites, as well as an overview of news and publications from those sites. Consider adding your home site to the featured links to increase home site discovery.
The SharePoint home site is a new feature that is very easy to enable, and it doesn’t require complicated settings. However, some planning is still required to make sure it delivers a nice user experience and provides meaningful content to your users.