Hubify: Create Hub Sites in SharePoint Online to 5 Steps to Improve Usability Series

The new site hubs already need to be demistified.  Much of the way people speak about hub sites is already incorrect understanding.  Hub sites are not a new template, but are simply an existing Team or Communication site or taking an existing site and enabling it.  Many don’t realize the Hubs have rolled out.  This is not a new template, this is a feature that can be enabled via powershell with new association UI coming soon.  You can read more about the release and information on Hub sites by Mark Kashman.

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Hubs can improve your global navigation, rollup activities and provide search scopes…

The easiest way of verifying you’re ready to go is by running in powershell:

Get-SPOHubSite
This will lists hub sites or hub site information.

  1. Scoped Search – If you search within the hub site, it will automatically provide results from all the associated sites.
  2. Activity Webpart rollup of associated sites (This is a good way to determine if the hub was setup properly.)
  3. News Webpart rollup of News from associated site (Now you know another reason why I suggest communication site)
  4. Hub Navigation – Cross Navigation in the top nav bar to associated sites
  5. Consistent Logo and information across all associated sites
  6. Consistent look across all associated sites.  The simple “Change the look” option is what is used.

Personally I’ll be prescriptive for you and help you understand why.  While you can take an exisiting site and turn it into a hub site, it’s better to start with a new communication site… Why?  A new team site is a group and contains a lot more than you’d need for a hub.  You likely won’t need a planner, inbox, calendar, and other group items.  A communication site, focuses on the new modern interface with a simplified, but focused site.  An old classic site doesn’t have modern pages and also doesn’t have the new updated webparts.  While you can take an old site through the steps to get updated there are a few examples of reasons why.  Classic sites don’t have the new webparts like activity, and they don’t have the new pages which the new webparts should be listed on them.

1. Create a new Communication site.  Doesn’t matter which type, a Topic or Showcase is fine.

2. Add Activity Feed

3. Open powershell and add the Site as a hub.  There is currently no other way to do this other than in powershell for setting up the initial parent hub sites.

Register-SPOHubSite https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Marketing

Note: You should not copy and paste powershell commands from the browser.  It’s often messed up due to the dashes not coming across properly.

4. Either Add News or make sure it is displayed.

5. On the child sites (If the UI is showing up) you can Click Settings (gear icon) > Site information > hub site association and select the desired hub.  You’ll only see the hubs you have permission to associate to. And then click Save. You will see the hub navigation appear above. The site itself will inherit the hub theme, and news and activities will begin to flow up to the hub site home page – along with a search crawl of content for any site associated to the hub site.In powershell associate a Site to the new hubsite.  Or you can do it in powershell.

Add-SPOHubSiteAssociation https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Research  -HubSite https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Marketing


NOTE: You can currently only add 50 Hubsites per tenant, but no maximum number of sites associated with any given hub.  A site can only have one parent hub site.

6. Gear/Settings – Change Look and Feel on parent – Once the hub site has been established, you’ll then want to further set it up and refine it for that organization –a preferred theme, so the hub site carries the right name and logo

7. Navigation – You should see the HubNav show up after some time.  Some may decide to call it sites or subsites, in a single label. You may need to move sites to subnavigation as you add sites. the preferred navigation elements, and the desired layout for news, sites and highlighted content. The navigation is NOT a webpart.  You won’t see how to configure that as it isn’t as intuitive.  Note there is a fix coming to add the nav to the hamburger menu when on smaller screens.

Note: Sites can only belong to one Hub. For example a site in Europe cannot belong to both the EU hub and the HR Hub.

8. Mobile – SharePoint hub sites have now been rolled out to 100% to all tenants worldwide in Office 365, including enterprise, education and government customers. Also, the SharePoint mobile apps have been updated in the production versions to fully support them

Troubleshooting: Once you’ve setup your associations it can take a couple of hours  or more after proper indexing to get the scoped search, navigation, and rollups working.  Don’t fret.  Search is used for rolling up News, Activities, and more.

Now that you’ve got lots of Hub Sites, you should plan on an Office 365 Home site… the parent of all HUBS.  We’ll talk about this one more later.

Key Powershell commands for setting up hubsites:

Register-SPOHubSite
Enables the hub site feature on a site to make it a hub site.

Register-SPOHubSite https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Marketing

Add-SPOHubSiteAssociation
Adds a new association between a site and a hub site.

Add-SPOHubSiteAssociation https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Research  -HubSite https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Marketing

Bonus Related Powershell:

Remove-SPOHubSiteAssociation
Removes an association between a site and a hub site.

Set-SPOHubSite
Sets the hub site information such as name, logo, and description.

Get-SPOHubSite
Lists hub sites or hub site information.

Grant-SPOHubSiteRights
Grants rights to users or security groups to access the hub site.  You can do normal permissions.

Revoke-SPOHubSiteRights
Revokes rights for specified principals to a hub site.

Unregister-SPOHubSite
Disables the hub site feature on a site.

Published by

Joel Oleson

Traveling is my passion. My quest to visit every country in the world while fully employed, raising a family and keeping my marriage healthy. I'm not just country hopping, but looking for the most immersive cultural experiences and capturing them as photos and videos. When not traveling, I'm living in paradise in sunny southern California working at Blizzard Entertainment, the world's most successful video game company in the world.

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