I'm new to SharePoint and have been thrown into a SharePoint 2013 implementation of our small intranet.

It appears IT has set up our site collection to have two levels of subsites. The top level has 5 subsites, and then collectively, there are 32 subsites divided among these 5 parent subsites. Each of these 32 subsites has one document library/list. Therefore, for 32 subsites, there are 32 libraries/lists.

For experienced SharePoint users, do you foresee problems with this organization? It seems redundant to me and possibly confusing to visitors. As we are in the early stages of implementation I want to make sure we are doing it in the most effective and organized way.

Thank you, Karen

1 Answer 1


This is a hard question to answer given so many variables, such as:

  • how many users?
  • do you use Active Directory extensively?
  • if so, do you have AD groups already in place that logically map to these sites?
  • is this content going to be heavily secured in places?
  • do you envision breaking permission inheritance frequently?
  • what is the initial size of the content?
  • how do you anticipate the site growing?
  • how many resources are available for farm and site administration?
  • .....these questions could keep going on quite a while

One problem I potentially see is that you have only a single site collection. As a single site collection can only have a single content database, you are limiting your total farm content to 200GB per the recommended MS limitations (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262787.aspx#ContentDB).

I'm guessing that there are 5 departments that each comprise their own first level subsite. Then, within each of these departments, there are several groups under each one, making up the second level subsites.

I would potentially recommend each of those 5 first level sites be its own site collection. Then, they could each have their own group of subsites off of that. You can use managed URLs to keep the URLs nested nicely and give the 'illusion' of a single sharepoint site if that is what you are after.

I understand the reluctance to have so many doc libraries. However, there are ways to work with this:

  • understand search and search scopes --- just because there are 20+ doc libraries, a nice search experience can make them seem like a single repository
  • plan some custom document metadata taxonomy that means something to your organization. This metadata can help search tremendously
  • As each subsite can scope search to just it's contents, it might actually make sense in department/group scenarios that they would want to just search their doc library and/or single site.

For easing visitor adoption:

  • have your top level site at a simple, root URL, ie: sharepoint.mycompany.com
  • have a total hierarchical directory at that root page. If not directly on the page, make it extremely easy and obvious to navigate to
  • on each of the 2nd level pages, have the same hierarchical directory for that department there, with a link to the parent top level site also clearly available
  • Have a 6th 'first level' site dedicated to SharePoint Help. At this site, utilize the doc library for storing cheatsheet type material. Use a wiki for putting together an evolving list of help topics and articles, and have a discussion forum where any user can post their questions. Have admin(s) subscribe to alerts on this forum and promptly answer questions.
  • Have that help site as the last link in the top nav in EVERY single site you have. Make the link something like 'MyCompany SharePoint Help'. You want it to become the go-to place for users to ask questions.
  • As an admin, when you get questions via email, politely ask the user to post the question in the help forum. This way, you start developing a knowledge base around your help content.

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