Publishing Site or Team Site?

Todd Chessum -

The question of which SharePoint site template to use is one that comes up quite often. For some templates, take the Blog Site template for example, the use case and choice are obvious. For others, the use case and choice are not as clear, with most questions arising concerning Team Sites versus Publishing Sites.

If all you're looking for is a quick answer, here it is:

We recommend using the Publishing Site template, with the Team Collaboration Lists feature enabled (Site Settings > Site Features > Team Collaboration Lists). This will give you the best of what SharePoint has to offer!

If you'd like to delve into the "why" of this recommendation, please read on...

Life as a SharePoint Site

First, let's take a look at the basic definitions of these two site types. Publishing sites are typically used to publish content on a large Intranet or Internet site. These communication portals consist of multiple consumers, with far fewer actual contributors. On the other hand, Team sites consist of multiple contributors who collaborate with each other on documents, announcements, and other artifacts.

These definitions are great, and often SharePoint is deployed as a business collaboration platform. With the collaboration term in mind, SharePoint Admins select the Team Site template (it being the default template selection also doesn't hurt) and a new environment is born using the Team Site template.

As time goes forward, the environment morphs, and most likely turns into a hybrid of communication portal/collaboration platform, with team Team Site template loosing it's fit and begins showing it's limitations.

More time passes, and the desired to brand and better structure content grows. However the Team Site template severely limits what can be accomplished in this realm. These actions are all within the domain of a Publishing Site, with it's flexible page layouts, publish infrastructure, and easy to apply master pages. And then a painful reality sets in... there is no simple way to migrate content from the wiki and web part pages of the Team site into the flexible publishing page infrastructure of a Publishing site. If only you'd initially used a Publishing Site!

Why a Publishing Site is the Way to Go

As stated above, we recommend using a Publishing Site template, with the Team Collaboration Lists feature enabled (Site Settings > Site Features > Team Collaboration Lists). This enables all features available from a Publish Site, along with collaborative core of a Team Site. Truly the best of what SharePoint has to offer!

Here are a few reasons as to why. You'll notice most of these are features are only available in a Publishing Site context.

  • Realize your initial content layout no longer best suits your needs? Using the publishing model provides almost infinite flexibility from a presentation perspective. Page layouts provide you options only limited by your imagination. Site pages however are fixed, you cannot extend/add to them, and you lose a lot of functionality from web part zones such as easily reordering content.

  • Ready to change the Look-N-Feel of your site so it no longer looks like generic SharePoint? The publish infrastructure allow you to easily change Master pages from within Site Settings. No need to mess with SharePoint Designer or Power Shell.

  • In the middle of a content update and get called away to an emergency? Using the publishing model allows you to easily save your work in progress (so that only you can see it), then come back later, finish up, and publish your changes out to the wider audience.

  • Have sensitive content that needs to first be reviewed before being made visible? Simple moderation and workflows are built into a Publish Site.

  • Want to collaborate like it was a Team Site? With the Team Collaboration Lists feature enabled you'll have access to all the collaboration tools of a Team Site (Shared Documents, Announcement, Calendars, Links, Tasks and Discussion Boards) within the flexible publishing model. A huge win win!

Conclusion

While at first glance, a Team Site may appear to be the right choice for your new collaboration platform, we hope this article has helped illuminate the benefits of selecting the Publishing Site template, with the Team Collaboration Lists feature enabled (Site Settings > Site Features > Team Collaboration Lists). Providing you and your users with the best of what SharePoint has to offer! 

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