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Introducing the idea of Archive Hub Sites

A common practice these days is to organise site collection in hub sites. It gives you a great possibility to arrange your content more dynamically than ever before in SharePoint. On specific site type, we are dealing in any SharePoint project, for example, are project sites.

These project workspaces only have a defined start and end date. A site collection like this can be useful for a couple of weeks, to month or in case of long-running projects for years. What to do when the workspace reached his end of life?

The answer to this is. Leave the project sites where they are, but you can change the visibility for your users.

The content still should be findable but is not that relevant to have it connected to the same site hub as the project was active. Just create an archive hub for these kinds of information.

An archive hub

An archive hub is nothing else than a specific Hub Site for a particular purpose. In this case archive, and “hide” information, because they are not as relevant anymore as they used to be. Let’s stick with the project example. During the project closing phase, the move to site to another hub site could include the following actions.

  1. Limit user access or change the findability
  2. Keep your content fresh and remove the outdated information
  3. Optimise search of currently associate hub site

These requirements match of a hub site match precisely the characteristics of a hub site.

Feature 1: Shared navigation and branding

When a finished project gets moved to the archive hub, the previously associated hub automatically can adopt the configuration of the navigation. Your working hub site only shows active projects and workspace. The archive hub, on the other hand, gives you an excellent overview of all past projects and the navigation and overview can be individually configured to meet their requirements.

Active Project vs Archived Project Theming option

Even different branding can give the user a clear indication that this project is not active anymore. Easy to accomplish with themes for example. The active project uses a green theming. Archived projects could then use a more red-ish theming. Give an additional visual indication that this project is not maintained or updated anymore.

Feature 2: Roll-up of content and search

Similar possibilities in case of content rollup show only active projects on an organisational hub site and archived in the archive hub. This lead to a clear separation of interest.

It gets also supported by the search scopes. Archive projects only surface in the archive hub while active projects still show up in organisational context.

Feature 3: A home destination for the hub

Let’s say you are working in the HR department in a company. Imagine you have a hub site for Human Resources and publish on this page news, events and maybe documents and forms relevant for your use. Besides, you can list all web sites related and associated to this specific hub site. Also, you also see your relevant project via the same access. The key here is related projects.

If the already outdated projects are still associated with the chance to see irrelevant information is high. Moving the project to an archive hub reduce that friction. In this case, it is not even required to reconfigure the web part on the landing page, not the web parts on the previous associated site and especially not the one used on the archive hub. Just change the association of any project to the archive hub site.

The planning

When you don’t use hub sites right now, make sure to have planned particular hub sites to archive information as well. I used this kind of hub sites a lot with great success in the previous projects.

In one specific project, I used hub sites to combine projects from a particular section of a company together. Each of those hub sites has its archive attached to it.

The project closing phase includes a cleanup task to remove all outdated documents that are no longer needed anymore. So you save storage too and when there is no legal requirement. Why should you keep those documents?

I know this method is not a 100% technical way of achieving an archive, but I firmly believe it is a quick win to organise your data and keep your content relevant.

For more planing considerations please check out the excellent documentation by Susan Hanley on planing hub sites.