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SharePoint How-to: SiteTypes

Entry point for Windows SharePoint Services at UVM
 

Choosing a SharePoint Site Type

One of the first tasks that you are faced with when setting up a new site collection is to select a "Site Type". Site Types are templates on which SharePoint sites are built.  All sites can use the same basic site components (including Document Libraries, Calendars, Announcments, Links, and Discussion Boards), but different site types will empahsize these features to different degrees.  So how do you know which features you will want emphasized?  Unless you are an experienced SharePoint site administrator, you probably will not know.  As a result, the best choice for first-time site owners is to select a "Team Site".  The team site loads the most commonly used SharePoint features into your site home page.  Later on, you can remove the site features that you do not want to keep, or add additional parts as needed.

Feel free to experiment with other site types if you wish.  You can create more than one site collection, and later delete the ones that you don't like.  However, don't spend time adding tons of content and customizations to a site before making up your mind.  Migrating content between sites can be time consuming, and often requires assistance from a SharePoint administrator.

Here are some observations that my help you to select a site template that best suits your needs:

  • Team Site template: 
    When in doubt, go with the "Team" site.  Team sites have a very flexible default layout, including a navigation quick launch, and two columns for your web parts on the home page.  These sites are great if you want to combine documentation libraries with any other type of SharePoint content (such as calendars, contact lists, discussion boards, or surveys).  Team sites work well as project sites and departmental documentation sites. 
  • Blog site template: 
    Blog is short for "Web Log".  These sites are simply linear lists of posts that can be sorted by date or category.  Blog posts tend to be "web only", meaning that they do not typically contain non-web content such as MS Office documents or PDF documents.  Blogs work well as free-form activity logs, or for informal documentation sites.  However, those that demand more structure, organization, or those that want to collaborate on documents will not find a blog overly useful.  Keep in mind that you can always add child blog site to a team site, thus allowing you more flexibility in your site content.
    For more advanced blogging needs, you likely will want to use the WordPress service maintained for all UVM affiliates.  Visit "blog.uvm.edu" for more details.
  • Blank site:
    As the name implies, the blank site contains no web parts at creation time.  You will have to define your own site home page, and add web parts to it one at a time.  Blank site are for advanced SharePoint site administrators only.  While total control of your site is possible, getting started will be time consuming, and may require the use of SharePoint authoring tools such as "SharePoint Designer".
  • Document Workspace template:
    NOTE:  The Document Workspace will be removed from future editions of SharePoint.  General use of this template is not recommended. 
    This is a highly specialized site with limited flexibility.  The Document Workspace is intended for short-lived collaboration projects, and will not scale well as a standing site. 
  • Group Work Site template:
    NOTE:  The Group Work Site will be removed from future editions of SharePoint.  General use of this template is not recommended. 
    This site type is a variation on the "Team Site", but with web parts to assist with communication between collaborators working in the site.  Most SharePoint users at UVM already use e-mail as a communication tool, and will not find the "circulations" and "phone call memo" parts of this site overly useful.