Monday, January 28, 2019

Provisioning sites using Hub Sites and Site Design

August 2018 Microsoft announced improvements and new features for SharePoint hub sites. Yeah, powerful intranet! The most fascinating one was in my opinion „Adjust sites automatically when they get associated to a SharePoint hub site“. When I read that I was expecting the following function‘s behavior:

  1. Site scripting during hub site association
  2. Site design information panel during hub site association. Same behavior as creating a SharePoint site which uses site design

My first expectation was rolled out on my tenant in October 2018. My second expectation was announced by Microsoft too! (Happy Jarbas 😊) They started rolling it out to Target Release customers in December 2018 and will complete general availability in early 2019.

In this blogpost, I'll focus on the capability of provisioning content using site design during hub site association.

Important: You may need to update your SharePoint Online Management Shell to the version 16.0. 8414.1200 or later, in order to use the demonstrated PowerShell commands below.


  1. Create correct site scripts and avoid conflicts
  2. Configure the hub site with site design
  3. Apply site design during hub site association

1. Create correct site scripts and avoid conflicts

There are two site script actions you must be aware of in order to avoid logical mistakes and unnecessary error messages. I listed these actions and their behavior during the hub site association below:

The site design theme overrides the theme passed by the hub site losing the consistent look and feel which is an important hub site characteristic. Perhaps it is exactly what you are looking for. But 😊 Don’t forget that changing the hub site’s theme will automatically change all associated sites‘ theme to match the hub site. 
SharePoint sites can’t be associated with multiple hub sites at the same time. Using this action during the hub site association leads on an error which can unnecessarily confuse site collection administrators.

2. Configure the hub site with site design

In order to provision content during hub site association, you need to set up an already registered hub site with an existing site design. There is no way to manage site designs through the SharePoint UI yet. Therefore, PowerShell is a good way to set this up. The code below configures the hub site's SiteDesignId property:

Important: It’s not possible to associate many site designs with the same hub site. Consider working with different site scripts instead!

3. Apply site design during hub site association

The next step will be slightly easier since hub site association can be done through the SharePoint UI. Of course, you can associate a site with a hub site using PowerShell as well – I explained that in this other blogpost under step 3. The site design applies to a site immediately after the hub site association occurs. See below two ways to associate a site with a hub site:
  • The site information menu in the settings menu found in the top right corner of the site
  • The hub site management settings found when selecting activate sites in the new SharePoint admin center

The information panel no longer slides from the right. Microsoft changed his design and behavior making it much more functional for site collection administrators! You can now access the information panel while a site design is applying and after a site design has applied to the site. It leads on much more control and transparency about the steps carried out by the applied site design.

While applying a site design the information panel shows instantaneously the status of the actions being applied. You can reach the information panel through two different ways:
  • A notification bar found in the top of the site. It shows live information regarding the site design progress
  • The site design menu in the settings menu found in the top right corner of the site. It also shows detailed information regarding all site designs applied to the current site


Thanks the integration between site designs and hub sites it is now possible to have consistent site structure through all sites associated to a hub site. The configuration steps are not that difficult but could become easier with SharePoint UI support. For instance, Microsoft could add to the new SharePoint admin center the possibility to set up a site design while registering a site as a hub site.

The new information panel displays an overview through all site designs ever applied to a site. Site collection administrators have now more control and transparency since they can see which site designs have been applied to the site and which actions have been ran. In my opinion it is a very helpful instrument for administrators!

Since the new capability "Adjust sites automatically when they get associated to a SharePoint hub site" hub sites have become much more useful and powerful for SharePoint users!


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