Take the 2-minute tour ×
SharePoint Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for SharePoint enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am developing a company website/portal in SharePoint, and am trying to figure out the best way to organise it into site collections, sites and subsites -- I'm confused by the terminology I think.

The site has a public-facing Internet presence which is to be managed via the Publishing WCM features of SharePoint. Behind the scenes there will be some portal features, such as personalised dashboards and a collaborative wiki.

For the public-facing content, the site structure is as so:

  • Home
  • Company
    • About Us
    • Testimonials
    • ...
    • ...
    • etc
  • Products
    • Product 1
    • Product 2
    • ...
    • ...
    • etc
  • Support
    • a support section for customers requiring a login
  • Contact Us
    • one web page with contact details

The top-level sections in my hierarchy, i.e. Home, Company, Products, Support, Contact Us would share the same master page and top-level navigation, and Company and Products will each have a left-placed submenu to go to each page in their section. I'm wondering how to structure this in terms of sites/subsites/site collections.

My initial thoughts is to have a site collection where the top-level site for the collection is the public-facing publishing side of things.

But then I'm not sure whether 'Company' and 'Products' should be subsites of the top-level publishing site, or simply pages within the top-level publishing site. As Company and Products are just collections of basic HTML content, to have each one as a 'subsite' feels like overkill, but that may just be because I'm not used to the terminology. I would ordinarily just think of them as subsections of a website.

The 'Support' section is essentially a set of embedded mini-applications such as issue tracking. As it is more substantial, and is not viewable by anonymous users, it feels like it would warrant being at least a subsite, or maybe it should be a separate site collection?

I would guess that the 'behind-the-scenes' portal, only accessible by employees, with features such as dashboards/collaborative wiki, would again be in a separate site collection.

I guess my general question is, what are the rules of thumb for when to use a site, when to use a subsite, and when to use a site collection?

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This blog post When to use a Site Collection over a Sub-Site by Joe Shepherd helped me a lot when I had similar questions.

share|improve this answer
the above link is broken - Error message: 'This Windows Live Space is no longer available.' –  Supriyo SB Chatterjee Dec 17 '13 at 17:53
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.