This is the first article in the SharePoint Online planning guide for Office 365 for professionals and small businesses. It explores the concepts behind planning and managing a SharePoint Online site collection.
In this article
Who should read this article?
You should read this article if you are in charge of planning or managing your SharePoint Online site collection in Microsoft Office 365 for professionals and small businesses.
What is a site collection?
Your default SharePoint Online sites in Office 365 for professionals and small businesses are part of a single site collection. A site collection is a group of SharePoint sites that have the same owner and share administration settings, such as permissions. Site collections are hierarchical, and always include one top-level site and any sites below it. Your SharePoint Online site collection has two sites when you begin: The Team Site and a public-facing Website. The public site is the top-level site, but you create additional sites below the Team Site.
Note You cannot create additional site collections in SharePoint Online for Office 365 for professionals and small businesses.
Team Site The Team Site, and any sites that you create under it, are available only to users that you invite by giving them permission to the site. With a Team Site, your organization, team, or group can connect with one another and collaborate on documents and other files, post announcements, schedule meetings, maintain tasks, track issues or action items, store information in lists, and so on. You can also create various subsites from the available site templates in the Team Site.
Website The public-facing Website is a public site that serves as your organization’s web presence. The Website has everything you need to get started with designing your site—libraries to store site content such as logos, graphics, or documents, and most importantly, the Web Site Design Tool, for customizing the content and style of your site.
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Administer a site collection
As a site collection administrator, you have the Full Control permission level to the site collection. This means you have access to content in all sites in the Team Site, and can use the Web Site Design Tool to design a public-facing Website. You can manage user permissions for the Team Site and Website, and perform administrative tasks relevant to the sites. In addition to these tasks, you may be required to perform a number of other tasks in your role as a site collection administrator.
Typical site collection administrator responsibilities
If you are a site collection administrator for your SharePoint Online site, your responsibilities might include the following:
- Serve as a point of contact between your users and the Microsoft Online Services administrator.
- Grant user permissions for accessing the Team Site.
- Grant user permissions for designing the Website.
- Decide who can access important content stored on SharePoint Online sites (that is, you will be responsible for configuring site-collection level permissions).
- Decide which features to make available to the people who will be using the sites in your site collection.
- Provide some technical support for the people who use your site collection.
- Choose a backup administrator for your site collection.
- Assist with the administration of certain features, such as:
- Turn available site collection features on or off.
- Create or customize site content types.
- Set regional settings.
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Plan the sites in your site collection
In SharePoint Online for Office 365 for professionals and small businesses, you have a single site collection consisting of a public-facing Website and a Team Site. You can also create a number of subsites under your Team Site, for use by you and your colleagues.
Although it’s quite easy to create additional sites for your team, you should plan the creation of new sites carefully. Planning the types of sites you want to create ahead of time—as opposed to creating several to see which type users prefer—will make it much easier to manage your site collection in the long run. For more information about planning sites and content, see Step 2: Plan the structure and content for your Team site.
Here is a list of the site templates that are available in SharePoint Online for Office 365 for professionals and small businesses, along with a description of each template. Use this list to decide which types of sites are best for your organization.
- Basic Meeting Workspace A site to plan, organize, and capture the results of a meeting. It provides lists for managing the agenda, meeting attendees, and documents.
- Blank Meeting Workspace A blank meeting site for you to customize based on your requirements.
- Blank Site A blank site for you to customize based on your requirements.
- Blog A site for a person or team to post ideas, observations, and expertise that site visitors can comment on.
- Contacts Web Database A contacts database to manage information about people that your team works with, such as customers and partners.
- Decision Meeting Workspace A site for meetings that track status or make decisions. It provides lists for creating tasks, storing documents, and recording decisions.
- Document Workspace A site for colleagues to work together on a document. It provides a document library for storing the primary document and supporting files, a tasks list for assigning to-do items, and a links list for resources related to the document.
- Express Site A site for teams to quickly create, organize, and share information. It provides a document library and a list for managing announcements.
- Group Work Site This template provides a groupware solution that enables teams to create, organize, and share information quickly and easily. It includes Group Calendar, Circulation, Phone-Call Memo, the Document Library and the other basic lists.
- Issues Web Database An issues database to manage a set of issues or problems. You can assign, prioritize, and follow the progress of items from start to finish.
- Multipage Meeting Workspace A site to plan, organize, and capture the results of a meeting. It provides lists for managing the agenda and meeting attendees in addition to two blank pages for you to customize based on your requirements.
- Team Site A site for teams to quickly organize, author, and share information. It provides a document library, and lists for managing announcements, calendar items, tasks, and discussions.
Governance is the set of policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes that guide, direct, and control how an organization's business divisions and technical teams cooperate to achieve business goals. With regard to your SharePoint Online site collection, a governance plan can be a guide to help plan the roles, responsibilities, and policies necessary to support your site collection. This may include, but is not limited to, the following considerations:
- Information architecture, including Web pages, documents, lists, and data
- Maintenance activities, including managing user accounts
- Branding and customization policies
It is important to prepare a governance plan for your organization. By participating in the development of a governance plan, you can help identify ownership for both business and technical teams, defining who is responsible for what areas of the system. For more information about developing a governance plan, see Governance 101: Best practices for creating and managing team sites.
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User accounts are created by the global administrator. As a site collection administrator, you assign permissions to these users by using the Site Settings area of your Team Site.
User accounts in Office 365
The global administrator adds new users to Office 365 for professionals and small businesses by using the Microsoft Online Services administration center, which is the portal for managing users and configuring services. When adding a new user, the global administrator does the following:
- Specifies whether that user can also access the administration center
- Sets the geographic location for the user
- Selects the type of user license
- Creates a username and password for the user
Team Site users
After a new user has been added to Office 365 for professionals and small businesses, you can add that user to your Team Site and adjust the permissions for that user. Permission levels and group membership are specified in Site Settings. For more information about permission levels and group membership, see the Permission levels and group membership section in this article.
Permission levels and group membership
Permission levels are collections of permissions that allow users to perform a set of related tasks. For example, the Read permission level includes the View Items, Open Items, View Pages, and View Versions permissions (among others), all of which are needed to view pages, documents, and items in a SharePoint site. Permissions can be included in more than one permission level.
It is not recommended that you assign permissions directly to individual users because this can make it very difficult to track and manage who has access to sites. Instead, assign permissions to groups, and then assign individual users to the appropriate groups. A group is a set of users that are defined at site collection level for easy management of permissions. Each group is assigned a default permission level.
Note When you assign permission levels to SharePoint groups at the site collection level, all sites and site content inherit those permission levels by default. You can specify whether to break permission inheritance.
Because a user's permissions determine what he can access within a site, you must consider his group membership carefully. For example, a user who is responsible for creating and customizing sites must minimally be a member of the Designer group. On the other hand, a user who needs only to read content and perhaps add comments to a blog may only need to be a member of the Contributor group.
This section describes the default roles in SharePoint Online for Office 365 for professionals and small businesses, and defines what activities a user with a particular role can perform on the site.
Site collection administrators Site collection administrators have the Full Control permission level. They have access to content in all sites in the Team Site, and use Web Site Design Tool to design a Web site in Website. They can add users to then Team Site and Website, and perform administrative and auditing tasks relevant to the sites.
Note A site collection has a top-level site and then sites below the top-level site.
Site owners By default, members of the Owners group have the Full Control permission level in the site they created in the Team Site. They can add users and perform any administrative tasks relevant to their site. They can also use Web Site Design Tool to design a Web site.
Note A user who creates a site under a top-level site in the Team Site automatically becomes a site owner for that site.
Designer By default, members of the Design group have the Design permission level. They can create lists and document libraries, edit pages and apply themes, borders, and style sheets in the Team Site. They can also use Web Site Design Tool to design a Web site.
Contributor By default, members of the Members group have the Contribute permission level. In the Team Site, Contributors can only add, edit, and delete items in existing lists and document libraries, and work with Web parts. Contributors cannot use Web Site Design Tool tool to design a Web site.
Visitor By default, members of the Visitors group have the Read permission level. In the Team Site, visitors can only view pages, list items, and documents. Visitors cannot use Web Site Design Tool to design a Web site.
When a SharePoint Online environment for small businesses is first created, the following administrative roles are created by default.
Global administrator The top-level administrator in your company. When you sign up to purchase Office 365, you become a global administrator. Global administrators have access to all features in the administration center, and only global administrators can assign other administrator roles. There can be more than one global administrator at your company, but the first global administrator by default becomes the default site collection administrator.
Site collection administrators Site collection administrators have the Full Control permission level. They have access to content in all sites in the Team Site, and use Web Site Design Tool to design a Web site in Website. They can add users to then Team Site and Website, and perform administrative and auditing tasks relevant to the sites. A site collection administrator can add another site collection administrator, or change the site collection administrator, through the Site Settings page.
Tip It is a good idea to add a site owner’s contact information to the home page of a site. This can help users find the owner when they need administrative assistance.
For more information about managing users and permissions, see Plan your permissions strategy, Manage users in the Team site, and Manage users in a public-facing website.
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Plan to use SharePoint Online features
As a site collection administrator for SharePoint Online, you will manage site collection features. These tasks may include activating or deactivating features according to your governance plan. Site collection features that you may need to activate or deactivate include:
Office Web Apps Enables users to view and edit documents using the Office Web Apps.
Open Documents in Client Applications by Default Configures links to documents so they open in client applications – for example, Word, Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote – instead of Web applications, by default.
Three-state workflow Use this workflow to track items in a list.
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Plan for SSL considerations
Each site that you create in Office 365 for professionals and small businesses uses the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), which is the standard communications protocol for web pages. Information sent over HTTP is not encrypted, so other users on the network may be able to view the information sent to Office 365 for professionals and small businesses sites. HTTP is considered less secure than the secure hypertext transfer protocol (HTTPS), which is the communications protocol designed to transfer encrypted information between computers on the Web.
Some SharePoint Online client integration features require that SharePoint be a Trusted Site in Internet Explorer. These features are designed to be used with HTTPS, and will not work as expected with the HTTP connection available for your Office 365 for professionals and small businesses sites. The list of those features follows:
|Open in Windows Explorer
||In the Connect & Export group the Library tab in a SharePoint Online document library, Open with Explorer displays an error and does not display content stored in the library in the standard Windows Explorer view.
|Import a Microsoft Excel worksheet
||Cannot automatically create a SharePoint Online list from a worksheet by clicking Site Actions, More Options, and then choosing to create a new list by using the Import Spreadsheet command.
|Save a new document that was (derived from a content type template document associated a specific document library to the site from which it was created
||In a SharePoint Online document library, when you use the New Document button in the Documents group on the ribbon to create a new document, and then attempt to save the document, the Office client application chooses a location on your hard disk instead of saving it in the library. To save the document to the SharePoint Online library, use the Save As command in the Office client application to navigate to the document library.
|Create a meeting workspace from Outlook
||In the Meeting Workspace task pane, selecting a SharePoint Online site as the workspace location displays an error and will not enable creation of a meeting workspace from within Outlook.
|View Lync presence information for other users
||Presence icons for users will not display on web pages. You can still initiate an instant message or voice chat with a listed document owner via Lync, but you cannot see their presence information.
|Connect to a site from the Office Hub on your Windows Phone 7
||Cannot connect to SharePoint Online for small business sites from the Windows Phone 7 Office Hub. It is recommended to use Internet Explorer mobile to access SharePoint Online for small business sites from your Windows Phone 7.
Here’s how to add your site to Trusted Sites to use these features:
- In Internet Explorer, click the gear icon, and then click Internet options.
- Click the Security tab, click Trusted sites, and then click Sites.
- In the Add this website to the zone box, type the URL for the SharePoint Online site that you want to add to the Trusted sites zone, and then click Add. For example, type https://contoso.sharepoint.com. (Here, the placeholder contoso represents the domain that you use for your organization.)
- Click Close, and then click OK.
For more information, see Troubleshoot the 'Open with Explorer' command in SharePoint Online.
The following features are functional, but you may see additional authentication prompts or require extra steps when using them:
|Customize list forms by using Microsoft InfoPath 2010
||When you click Customize Forms on the List tab, in the Customize List group.
|Open documents in Office client applications
||When you open documents in Microsoft Office applications, such as Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. This is done by clicking Edit in application on the menu for the document in the library.
|Upload a document by using drag and drop
||In a document library, when you click to add multiple documents, you may be prompted to run an add-on before drag and drop is available in the Upload Document dialog box.
It is not recommended to add your SharePoint Online site to the Trusted Sites zone in Internet Explorer. It is best practice to add only HTTPS sites to the Trusted Sites zone. Because your Office 365 for professionals and small businesses sites use HTTP, adding them to the Trusted sites zone may result in security risks. For more information about the security risks of adding non-HTTPS sites to the Trusted sites zone in Internet Explorer, see Security and privacy features of Internet Explorer 8.
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Plan to enable multiple languages on sites
As a site collection administrator, you can enable the Multiple Language User Interface (MUI) feature to allow users to view sites in languages other than the default language that is set for your site collection.
When MUI is enabled, users can view the following elements in another language:
- Site title and description
- SharePoint default menus and actions
- Default columns
- Custom columns (list or site)
- Navigation bar links
Find more information about Multiple Language User Interface (MUI) in Make multiple languages available for your site’s user interface.
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Next article in this planning guide: Step 2: Plan the structure and content for your Team site
Main planning guide article: SharePoint Online planning guide for Office 365 for professionals and small businesses