I'm trying out Office 365 for my company, as a sort of intranet/collaboration platform, and I was wondering what is the best practice for the information architecture of a Sharepoint site, with regards to the division of content into separate sites.

Here's a first draft:

enter image description here

Now, my questions are:

  1. Should I divide the site into sub sites like this? This is loosely based on the access different user groups should have. But the problem is, some users should have access to all of these, and in that case it might just seem an inconvenience that they cannot search/filter/view all files from the same location. I.e. if I divide them like this I seem to cement a division of content/documents.
  2. Or should I just dump more content into one site and use views and filters to get the categories below? But how do I then implement some sort of restriction on different parts? (Other than laboriously setting it on each document)
  3. If I do divide it into these sub sites, is there any way to get aggregated views of it? I have read about the Content Query Web Part, but apparently that is not available in Office 365, at least not yet. Is there another way?

I would highly appreciate some help on these questions, and also some general pointers on the best practice of this type of site, so we don't "paint ourselves into a corner" so to speak...


Ok, so I got a couple of answers that suggest the Content Query Web Part should be available in Office 365, but I have no idea where. Here's the interface of the Content Rollup category, where I guess I should find it, but I don't see where that would be. The selected part is supposed to show sites of my choice, but is that it? I want to be able to show documents from various document libraries, but what would it mean to show entire sites...? Or is it somewhere else?

enter image description here


With the suggestions below, I'm close to getting the site aggregation to work for document libraries, which would sort of accomplish the flexibility I would like. The only problem now is I don't see any of the Managed metadata columns I have created in subsites from the top site where I'm creating a Content Query Web Part... Is there any way for such Managed metadata columns to be available here?

  • Make sure you create the Managed metadata columns on the SITE COLLECTION level for them to be available on all sites and libraries.
    – Jussi Palo
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 12:22
  • Ok, thanks. I cannot find where to do that though, all I can find is how to add a column at the top site, but that doesn't seem to help. That column is still not available in libraries and sites below the top site... Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 22:05
  • Actually, I was able to find this, but adding it there still doesn't make it available in the CQWP settings. Also, it says you're supposed to be able to do this: •You may also enter these tokens as filter values: •[PageFieldValue: field name] - uses the value of the specified field of the current page. But there is no field that is editable to add text like this...? Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 22:43
  • @JussiPalo If you are able to help, I'd appreciate it if you took a look at a separate question I created about the problem: sharepoint.stackexchange.com/questions/62120/… Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 11:17

3 Answers 3


Do create subsites, the structure you have looks good. You get lots of benefits from separate sites, such as permissions, retention, social following of what's new within a site (in the new version). You can aggregate content using CQWP or SRWP, as mentioned. However, when using CQWP, be careful with how much data the web part needs to query in order to get all content.

You can kill the page where the web part is if you make a query that goes through all sites in the site collection to get "Latest X documents". For large queries, use SRWP.

You can build search/filter/view all using Search results web part and Refinement panel.

  • Thanks, the Search Results Web Part was a really interesting feature, I didn't know about that possibility. And thanks for confirming that the structure seems feasible. However, even though the SRWP was interesting and powerful, what I would like is to be able to have just like a view of a Document Library, as I can directly within the site itself, with groupings (category headings) and filtered on my managed metadata and everything, but aggregated for the sub sites. Can I do that with CQWP? And if so, I can't find it in Office 365, see my edit. Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 16:39
  • You can create cross site listings using Data View Web Part if you need the layout of normal List View Web Part. It requires some SPD wizardy. Just make sure about the performance thing. zioed.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/… CQWP comes available when you activate Publishing feature on the site (that in turn requires Publishing infra feature activated on site collection features).
    – Jussi Palo
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 12:20
  • Ok, about the performance thing, is that a big deal unless you have enormous amounts of data there? We're quite a small company, and the total amount of documents will be in many thousands of course, but we're not talking millions... Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 21:53
  • Performance depends also on the hardware you're using, so I'd almost try to start with DVWP and understand that at some point performance might become an issue and at that time you will need to either beef up your hardware or come up with better Web Part.
    – Jussi Palo
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 9:16
  • Thanks, but since this is Office 365, it's hosted, not on-premises, so we cannot affect the hardware... Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 16:29

The Content Query WebPart is available in Office 365. You probably mean the Content Search Web Part, which is not yet available, but there is an alternative for that in the Search Results Web Part.

For your scenario, I think the Content Query Web Part for aggregation should suffice.

You can also use search for aggregation but currently we are facing a lot of problems with the crawl timings in Office 365 (2013). This should get better in the future I hope.

  • What's wrong with crawl timings I thouhgt they were down to about 4 or 5 minute incrementals? Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 8:01
  • Crawls are once a day, I heard.
    – James Love
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 8:13
  • Well that's kinda the problem. There is no official documentation yet on the crawl timings. Also, incremental crawls should not be a problem. The real issue is with the full crawls which are supposedly run at random right now. More details here: community.office365.com/en-us/forums/717/p/83656/… Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 8:45
  • @VardhamanDeshpande: Ok, that sounds good, but I can't find the Content Query Web Part, please see my edit... Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 16:14
  • Make sure you activate the "Publishing Infrastructure" Site Collection Feature and the "Microsoft Office Server Publishing" Site Feature. The Publishing features are required for the CQWP Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 16:42

A key consideration should be design for scalability... in particular with regard to amount of content to be stored

A SP - site collection has a suggested maximum size of 100-200GB.

For more details refer to http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/cc262787.aspx#SiteCollection

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