As we’ve discussed previously, one of the unique strengths of SharePoint Online (SPO) is the breadth of site options available to users within their SPO environment. Whether a given organization would benefit from Teams, a Group Sites, or Communication Sites, each of these options is easily deployable as IT works to build out SharePoint Online architecture. The diversity of these choices opens the possibility for rich and unique SPO structures, constructed to mimic the specific needs of a given enterprise, and the users therein.
Of course, in order to take advantage of different site options, users and administrators have to be comfortable creating these sites in their environment. Just as there are a number of choices for what kind of sites will comprise a SharePoint Online architecture, there are numerous ways to create these sites and to regulate how they can be created. As such, we’ve put together a quick primer, designed to help those working in SharePoint Online get a handle on the process of site creation and the possibilities that process presents.
Whether users have the ability to create sites comes at the discretion of IT administrators. What types of sites are under their jurisdiction will likely be lesser than that of admins, but even restricted access to site creation can be empowering for users, helping them create an environment in which they can thrive. Especially because users will often be juggling a number of projects–many of which admins won’t immediately know about–providing users with the power to create certain site types on their own ensures that admins don’t need to spend their time building site upon site for every endeavor undertaken by every single user.
There are a number of ways that users can go about building sites. The first option is to create a group. If a user creates a group, that group will automatically be assigned a Team/Group Site. These sites function much like the hub for an email group, and provide users with the ability to communicate with other members of their organization. These sites will most often be employed by teams collaborating on longer term projects who need to be able to share project-specific files with one another regularly.
Manually Creating Sites
The second option users have is to create sites manually. In some ways, this is the reverse of the previous option, since here the site is created, then users are added, rather than the other way around. On the SharePoint Online homepage, they’ll be a button marked “Create.” Hitting this button will open up a simple site creation wizard, which will immediately prompt users to select either a Team Site or a Communication Site. In contrast to the Team/Group Sites previously mentioned, a Communication Site functions like an internal Facebook or virtual bulletin board. For users or teams, Communication Sites might be helpful to share articles of interest or company news: files that are not as pressing as those sent back and forth via a Team Site. Because of its format, a Communication Site will preserve posted content for longer, rather than bury it in an ever-continuing conversation. Concordantly, Communication Sites are perfect for posting things like style guides or relevant research resources.
After selecting which type of site the user would like to create, they will be prompted to name the site, provide a description, and edit the email address of the site. Once they’ve done so, they can select “Finish,” and their site will be ready to use in seconds.
The last major option users might have is creation of a Team, which is—confusingly—different than a Team Site. Whereas a Team Site functions like an email group, Teams are structured like ongoing IM conversations, perfectly suited for team members working on a multi-stage projects. Edits and files can be shared back and forth in real-time, while all users can stay up-to-date on the conversation through notifications. Whenever a Team is created, a corresponding Team/Group Site is also created. Whether or not users have the option to create Teams is entirely at the discretion of admins.
While users will often have the ability to create sites, that power will often be extremely limited in comparison to that of administrators. This, of course, makes sense given that many of the sites populating a SharePoint Online environment will contain sensitive information and will have to have their permissions explicitly and carefully designated. As such, admins will have more options when it comes to site creation and management, and will also have a far greater amount of control with regards to the permissions of sites that they themselves did not create. While different site types do have different levels of administrative control, those types of sites (such as SharePoint Sites) that provide administrators with the most control will likely only be buildable by admins.
There are three major ways in which admins can create sites in SharePoint Online.
SharePoint Online Management Shell
The first is what’s known as the SPO Management Shell. As a supplement to PowerShell, Management Shell provides admins with a set of controls which are purposefully built for operations in Office 365, including many specifically designed to manage SharePoint Online. Many of these commands–such as “Create Site” will not be available in regular PowerShell, and, thus–in order to create sites in this manner–the Management Shell tool much be downloaded. Without it, PowerShell is unequipped to help administrators create sites.
Manually Creating Sites
Second, is the manual option. Closely resembling the means by which users can create sites, manual site creation simply involves admins building a site from the SharePoint Online dashboard. While the types of sites they can create and their control over permissions will be expanded from what’s provided to users, the basic process is essentially the same. For administrators who are looking to set up Team Sites or Communication Sites for their own projects–or at the behest of users–this is the easiest way to go about that. The interface, as with the rest of SharePoint Online, is smooth and easy to navigate. For sites that won’t require a great deal of monitoring or extremely complex permissions, the manual approach will likely be the quickest option.
SharePoint Online Admin Center
Finally, admins have the opportunity to create and manage sites via the SharePoint Online Admin Center. This is, without a doubt, the most versatile option for administrators with regards to site creation. Upon entering the Admin Center, administrators can select the “Site Management” option from the sidebar at the left of the interface. Upon clicking this, they’ll be directed to a list of all of their sites. In the list view, they’ll immediately be able to see the name of the site, the type of site it is, its classification, the amount of space it is using, the sharing status, who owns the site, and the date of last activity. From here, admins can easily select any of these sites to visit or to get more detailed information on, such as what has recently been done within the site, and which users have been most active.
Creating a site from this page is simple. Above the list of existing sites, there is simply a button labeled “Create.” As expected, clicking this will begin the process of building a new site, where admins will be taken step-by-step through the process.
Site Creation in SharePoint Online is Easier Than You Think:
With so many site creation options available in SharePoint Online it’s no secret that the platform is designed to empower users and administrators to work the way that best suits their needs. While SharePoint Online and its variety of site types can seem daunting at first, the truth of the matter is that navigating and building these sites is easier than you might first assume. As admins are asked to decide who can build sites or what sort of sites they believe should make up the bulk of a SharePoint environment, it’s important to pay close attention to what the needs of a business will be down the line. Does it make sense to let users and teams create their own sites? Which of the many options for creating sites seems easiest at a given time?
Like any other aspect of SharePoint Online and cloud collaboration in general, site creation requires careful consideration, and the proper knowledge. Subsequently, organizations will quickly find that the process of site creation is not only easy, but one of the best ways to structure their ongoing evolution and success.