Convert to Communication Site

Frequent Contributor

Will there be any way to convert a previous team site to a communication site? Or will we have to recreate and migrate?

77 Replies
All Communication site is, is a template. All the web parts used on the site are available to your other sites, so technically no.
No to recreate and migrate. Should be able to just create it quickly with current layout. Just update things.
The fastest way to get your site up and running will be to copy and paste content from your existing site pages.
You can think of Comm sites as another site template, i.e. another in the list of classic team sites, modern team sites, publishing sites, etc. We have never been able to truly convert a site from one site template to another. Currently there is no method to convert any type of existing site to a comm site, nor have I heard of this feature on the roadmap but MS may be able to provide more info.
But the pages include full width vs modern with left nav. If we could create full width pages on the root we could get closer.
Would you really want to do this? Team sites are focused on Collaboration and backed by Office 365 Groups. Communication sites are focused on broadcasting or communicating a message to a wide audience. In a team site, most users contribute content. In a Communication site, typically there are a small number of users and a large number of readers and the security groups are the more traditional SharePoint groups. Just like team sites and publishing sites previously, you want to chose the type of template that fits your business purpose.

@Susan Hanley I would say people will want to turn on full page communication features on existing team sites / group sites as they have started down that aspect for modern lists / libraries prior to them being deployed to other site templates.  In addition, if there was an easy way to MOVE data between sites (not just documents, but pages, list items, etc.) that would make this issue moot.

From what I read, they are also providing the template and the top nav to existing sites as well. We should be able to recreate the whole comm site with an existing site, however to echo others if you have a site that is modern tied to a group might not be ideal, but I'm with you, I just want alot of the look and feel for existing site even for existing team sites. Which I believe we should be able to use most of the elements on existing Modern sites.

Thanks for the great responses everyone. I understand team sites are based on the group models, I am just thinking of one of my customers who has an old team site (pre-groups era) that they used for mainly this purpose. Would be nice to retain the same URL, and the only way to do that without downtime would be to change the template (if it was possible), otherwise it would be a delete and recreate situation.

I'm fully on the same page, I was just wondering for a specific situation where I don't want to have to change URLs for a team site (pre groups era) we've been mainly using as a comm site. I could just delete and recreate, but that's a bit of downtime.

Really? So far I haven't been able to use communication site components on my team sites. Am I understanding you incorrectly?

This is a very, very common use case. Would very much like to get some kind of solution for it. We have many tenants who have been round and used extensively before 2016, so there have been different approaches as to what templates were used to provide an intranet (Non-collab) portal. It would be helpful to have some way of modernizing them.

I'm pretty sure you can use the same web parts on Team Sites and Comm Sites. So you wouldn't have to migrate your content if you are already successfully collaborating on a team site - but maybe you want to add a Hero web part to the home page, which you should be able to do.

can you even create comm sites yet? They haven't pushed this to most people yet. Once you can create site > Comm site shows up, my guess is then you should have the webparts set to modern team sites. BUT if your existing site is just a site collection, I don't think they have put in the mechanism to convert an old school site to a modern site yet. So until that happens your only option would be to create a Comm site and more content. 3rd party tool is a must IMO these days for doing that.

hero-web-part.PNGJust got the Communications Site on first release, and checked back on some team sites.  Looks like the Hero web part and other communications components are now available on the team sites as well.



Are you on first release for all users, or do you have selected users setup? Hoping First Releast option by itself is enough to get the quicker release!

Team Site used as a Publishing Site? No way. I don't believe you!!
You can add a modern page to an old school SharePoint site by adding a Site page to a site pages library and setting it as the homepage.

Just for selected users -- I'm assuming that means the first release users can create communications sites and use the new web parts, but all users can see them.

Some web parts and changes are not visable by those without first release.  For example the grey bar still appears for those without first release.

I believe the issue here is due to the many locations that Office 365 groups are created (i.e. Planner, Stream, Teams, etc.) that will also create a 'team site' by default. For example, Let say I am using Microsoft Stream and click on "My Groups" I create a group for the HR department to upload all their videos and add channels under. Later on they want build a site for their department using the Communcations site template. By default when a group is created, a 'Team Site' is created with that group. If I went to create a new site with the communications site template it will create the url with https://<tenent>/sites/HumanReources2 which is a whole different group now. What I am saying is if the group is created first and later they try to create the site with the business purpose of using communications site. This makes it difficult. 

I think you might want to think about this differently. If HR wants a private team site, you should use a Team Site - which leverages the Office 365 Group for identity. If they want the "look" of a Communication Site (i.e. the web parts), they can use the same web parts in the Team SIte - but the audience is private. A key difference with the Communication Site template is that the security model does not use an Office 365 group by default. It makes sense that the other places to create a site are "team" based - because they are typically for getting team work done. Communication Sites are more about showcasing a service, telling a story, or communicating more broadly - not about collaboration as with team sites.

I only mention that because that came up in our organization. A department created a group using stream to put all of their videos (Not HR, it was just an example). Later, I receive a request to build them a site that will be used to communicate updates to the whole organization. I went to create the site using the new communications site template and it created a secondary group. I wanted to use the current group already in place. You are right, the web parts and such could be used on the Team Site template as well. Not a big issue but would have preferred to use the Communication Site template from the get go.

Comm sites don't create created a secondary site collection maybe in terms of naming, but it doesn't create a office 365 group tied to it. 


On a side note to this thread. The reason people want to use comm sites for their current sites is the existing modern UI with the side quicklaunch bar has too muich wasted space and isn't very intuitive. The top quick launch bar is much better. That IMO is the biggest reason why people want to use the sites over just adding webparts to the existing parts. 


I know they are going to talk about templates and color modifications at ignite etc. for modern sites but that's just so far away, I wish we could just get a temporary solution in place to turn the "look and feel" into "Modern" similar to oslo. on the old sites would really help appease the mojority. 

You are absolutely right. I don't know why I assumed sites created a group. Thanks for the input.

@Deleted wrote:


On a side note to this thread. The reason people want to use comm sites for their current sites is the existing modern UI with the side quicklaunch bar has too muich wasted space and isn't very intuitive. The top quick launch bar is much better. That IMO is the biggest reason why people want to use the sites over just adding webparts to the existing parts. 


Am I to understand that currently there is no option to reclaim the side quick launch space?  I created a new modern page (thanks Andrew), made it the home page, and now experimenting with the various comm template web parts (screenshot).  I have at least two clients that will want to 'convert' their home page to comm templates and they will probably want to remove the side quick launch. 


converted page.JPG

Your correct, there is currently no "Modern UI" Templates for existing sites. That aparently is coming at a later date. They are going to talk about it at Ignite, no clue on timeline, but my guess is their Year End release. 


Wish we could at least change Modern UI to existing Comm site template at a minimum earlier than that, but one could wish. 

It has been awhile since this was posted. I want to see if anyone has figured out how to apply the stuff that makes a Communication into a Team site.  I have clients who want the look of the communication topic site for their SPO root site. 


I have tried to apply a Communication template to the root web using SharePoint PnP. The home page picked up the elements but the quick launch is still there. I am guessing there is either a hidden feature or master page that goes with the communication site. 

I'm also very interested in this topic. We have mostly classic team sites that were set up for both collaboration (private team) efforts as well as broadcasting services (service center sites). We really want to use communication sites for those service center sites, and I was trying to decide if I should migrate content from the service centers into new comm sites (but that would mean URL change and potential issues with migration) or if I should use a modern page as the homepage of the old existing sites.


What I hate with the option of setting a modern page as the homepage of a team site is that the look isn't nearly as pretty as the comm sites. You are stuck with a quick launch, a site title, AND a weird banner image and title. So to update an existing service center site and use a HERO web part, that HERO web part would now be stuck under a page banner and title, which would be under the site title/header. And all would be pushed over because of the quick launch. Yuck!


I'm looking forward to hearing from anyone who has a good solution for this. I fear the current answer is "wait until Microsoft sets up an option that meets your needs." :(

For your use case, @Katrin Weixel, it sounds like you do want to make new Communication Sites for your service center sites. Yes, it would mean a URL change and yes, your links might break, but at the end of the day, the short term pain would give you the best long term, sustainable outcome.

This post adds some insight to replicating the Communication site homepage but only in a Communication site.


I have created new pages in a classic using the new modern page using PnP. You need to set the LayoutType to "Home" so that the big banner image is not included. It is included when it is an Article LayoutType. The above link does show how he creates a new page. 


There were recent updates to the PnP so that needs to be explored to see if we can now get the layout we want on other sites.

Thanks, Sue!

Thanks, Lou! I need to learn a lot more about PnP!

Follow-up question (after I played around much more yesterday):

I had issues with migrating lists/libraries into a new comm site. I'm concerned the migration tool isn't quite ready for this scenario.


I did have success creating a modern page on the old team site, removing the banner image using a PnP script to change layout from "article" to "home", and it's all good except for the ugly quick launch display.


Question 1: does anyone know of a way to make this look more like a comm home page by hiding the QL from the left nav and displaying it as a top nav instead? I tried "changing the look" from Seattle to Oslo, but that appears to only help with classic experience, not modern pages.


Question 2: is the any major difference in how Comm sites are set up in the background that I will be missing out on/messing up by "mocking" the experience via a modern page homepage on a classic team site?


Hope this all makes sense! Thanks for any/all advice on this matter!

Question 2: You won't be able to make your site a hub site when that feature is released, that is restricted to comm sites. So if you have seen that feature and plan to use it in the future this is one thing you will miss out on by mimicing a comm site.

As for hiding the quick launch, no you cannot do that out of box. You can probably write some kind of custom webpart that will hide it via css overrides somehow, or by using application customizer, but this will require code etc. in order to acommplish it.

Thanks, Chris. For this site, I think it's okay that it won't be able to serve as a hub site, so long as it can link to a hub site (and according to Mark Kashman, that will be possible so long as the classic site uses a modern page as a homepage). 

It is a shame there is no OOTB option for hiding the quick launch. It seems like switch the layout to Oslo worked for classic team sites/classic home pages, though it did leave tons of excess padding. I would love an easy way to switch to have a homepage layout match the Comm site least until it's easy and clean to migrate to a comm site. Nothing is ever easy with Microsoft! :\

Trust me, I feel the pain too, I prefer the comm site template over quick launch bar for most applications. Shouldn't be that hard to let us pick the template for the modern sites you would think, simillar to the whole oslo / seattle selection from the past.
Also, I meant as the actual parent level hub site, should have been more clear there :p.
Hi Christopher,

I was unaware that the root hub site had to be a communication site, have you seen this specified somewhere or it that just based on the screenshots provided here?

So as of right now, aparently you have to create a new Hub site, they are looking at trying to make it able to use an existing site to be the hub site. So I am wrong about the comm site, I thought I saw somewhere at ignite but guess I was mistaken. Here is a recent comment to a post fro Mark on the SharePoint team regarding this.


From the comments of this post:


Hope this helps. 

Thanks for the details, the ability to say an existing site is the hub would be great.

Hi @Susan Hanley - What do think the role of a non-group associated Team site is and will be moving forward?  I probably should've posted this as it's own discussion topic, but I read your reply and I value your opinion, experience and knowledge so I posted my question here.  Thanks - Greg 

Hi @Katrin Weixel - If I had to accomplish this today I would...

  1. Migrate the content of my existing site e.g. ServiceSite to ServiceSiteTemp
  2. Delete ServiceSite
  3. As a SharePoint Service admin or Global Admin I would use PowerShell to remove the ServiceSite from the Tenant recycle bin.
  4. Create a new Comm site on the URL of ServiceSite
  5. Migrate Content (files and lists) from ServiceSiteTemp to my new ServiceSite

I will have to create new modern pages and configure the new modern web parts.  If I had to do a number of Service sites and I wanted them to have a common layout.  I would see if I could configure one and use my migration tool to copy the Service site pages to the other new service sites that are based on the Communications site template.

Hi Greg! I'm struggling to think of a use case where I wouldn't want a new team site associated with an Office 365 Group. There are so many advantages from a mobile, UX, and governance perspective. There is obviously going to have to be a transition period where complex team sites with (ugh!) lots of sub-sites have to remain "un-Groupified," but for any new team site, Groups are the way to go. For legacy team sites, I would look for opportunities to Groupify if the team is going to persist into the future. Am I missing a use case where you might not want to do this?

Hi Susan - Traditional SharePoint site collections can be configured using Modern pages and Lists so they do support mobile device users.  I am typing my response slowly since I am trying to weigh if I am being 'old school' and resistant to change. I acknowledge that there is some of that in play.  When I use a 'group site'  (see I won't even call it a team site :) ) there are fewer settings available (about 1/2 as many on the site settings page) and I can't do simple things like change the title of the site.  In our environment we do NOT have self-service site creation or O365 Group creation enabled. We provision these by request and for O365 groups we enforce a naming convention so they don't collide with groups created in on on-premises identity management system that are replicated to the cloud.   This means that all our group sites are also named according to this convention.   We also have a number of sites where we use role based permissions on site objects.  I think we could still do some of that on group sites, but it not how group site permissions are managed by design and I wonder if this will cause me problems moving forward.   Once use case that comes to mind is when I want to configure a SharePoint site for a business process.  For example I have a few 'file-drop' sites where anyone can upload a file, but once they do the permissions on the file are changes so that they have read permissions, everyone except the file admins has no permissions.  I admit this model requires a SP2010 SPD workflow that uses an impersonation step and the days are limited (2021?) for this approach.   I appreciate your response - I've switched to encouraging the use of modern lists and pages were possible, but I am still holding on to traditional SharePoint.   I think part of it is that I know the settings and features and functionality of traditional SharePoint very well and I am wary that the functionality to solve a given problem is in one of the settings that are no longer available in the group connected sites.   Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.  Greg

Without trying to make this too long, I would use Comm Sites for your file drop sites. The permissions on that site use classic SharePoint Groups, which sounds like a better fit for that purpose. You can then see if you can create a Flow to change the permissions. Instead of thinking everything has to be a traditional team site, think about the combination of Communication Sites + modern Team Sites and see if that might help you let go a little bit. This doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition - you can transition over time (thought that could be confusing to users who work on multiple teams). I think you might end up finding that you are using Team Sites today for things that might actually be better as Comm Sites in modern SharePoint. If you think about your world from the perspective of whether the focus is collaboration (everybody contributes) or communication (most people just read but there may be some areas where readers can write), you just might be able to go modern for the new year!

@Susan Hanley here is an example of a similar situation. I have to create a Yammer connected Office 365 group. Discussions will take place on Yammer between members of that community and documents will be shared / published on the SharePoint site by the community managers.


I would really like to use the look of a communication site as it will be more a publishing site than a collaboration site. To use full width of the page and the top navigation.


I want to connect the Yammer and the site because I want the membership to be shared. 


If I could change the site layout, it would solve my needs.


@Mark Kashman is there something that could be done on the SharePoint side to alter the look?


Could you just add the Yammer web part to the page? The permissions on the web part align with the permissions on the Yammer group so if you show an open Yammer group on a page, anyone in that group can interact with the group directly on the Comm Site page.

Thanks Sue for the quick reply.


It will not be an open group. I need to control yammer and SharePoint access. One option is to manage the access with dynamic membership and use the same rules. But again, on a communication site, I will not have a group for that. I would need to create an AAD group and assign it as a member of the site. Doing that, I loose visibility of the members.


Easiest way would be to use the Group's site and hope that there will be a way in a not too distant future to change the site page layout.


Do you see another option?

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