Communication Site vs Team Site

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Contributor

@Mark KashmanOther than what other Office 365 tools are autogenerated (i.e. planner, onenote), I am struggling to see the difference between communication sites and team sites. It seems all the new web parts from communiction sites are coming to team sites as well.

 

Are there features/functionality that you can do in a communication site that you can't do in a team site? I would love some examples or a support page/article that compares the 2 feature-by-feature.

18 Replies
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One clear difference is that when you create a Communication Site, you have all created for you: home page customized based on the template chosen, navigation, etc....can you achieve this with a Team Site? Yes, but you have to do it by yourself
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As has been said already, Communication Site are readymade from the get go for sharing information. While only two designs are offered currently out of the box, this will expand over time.  For me, Communication Sites are a convenient way for broadcasting information where as Team Sites are more a collaboration space. Here were some example uses of Communication Site from the AMA. There is some overlap of course. 

 

 Here was @Susan Hanley explanation, which expands on 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."

 

@Claudia Lake - Following on from your Communication Sites Help Documentation post, which inspired me to create this by the way, this might be a good topic to cover officially. Either in the What is a SharePoint communication site? page or perhaps in a dedicated help page, just a thought anyway!

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Thanks for everyone's reply. Let me see if I can summarize. The only current difference between a Team site vs a Communication site is 1) how Microsoft is positioning them:

  • Team site- most users contribute content
  • Communication site- typically there are a small number of users and a large number of readers

2) pre-made Communication site page templates, and 3) Office 365 doesn't automagically create other tools with Communication sites (i.e. planner, group, OneNote...etc).

 

BUT, I'm struggling to see the difference from a features perspective. For example, can you do everything on a team site that you can do on a communication site and vise versa? I would love to know if the feature pariety between the two are always going to be there or are they on two parallel tracks that are eventually going to diverge to create their own unique use-cases, from a features perspective. @Mark Kashman Are there going to be Communication site exclusive features in the future? Is that the vision? Because right now there are none other than the pre-made templates that can still be built using a Team site. Or said another way, if we already have a Team site whose purpose aligns with the positioning of a Communication site, will we wish we should have switched to a Communication site in the future?

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Hi Cian, thanks for this feedback and for the backlinks to our help content! I'll be sure to incorporate this into our content to help users better decide when to use a team site vs. a communciation site.

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I sure wish the "Create Site" panel called them Communications Sites and "Group Sites" so as to differentiate the Sites+O365 Groups as something different from "traditional SharePoint team sites" (e.g. under <tenant>/teams/).

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Hi all,  I'd like to add to the discussion from my experience. 

 

I believe that the best way to explain the difference between a Communication Site and a Team Site is in how they are meant to be used. Team Sites have an O365 group associated with them and, therefore, can be a great resource for team collaboration (e.g., executives working on a project together who need to be able to share notes, access documents, etc). For this purpose, a Team Site will include a distro list, a team calendar, a Planner, a OneNote, etc. This Team Site can be public or private and the O365 Group associated with it will be displayed in your Outlook (under the "Groups" section of your panel) allowing members to easily access files in the site, email all other members, view the team calendar, etc. Additionally, when you create a Team Site, you can attach the site to an MS Team to take advantage of the features offered by MS Teams (persistent chat, call conferencing, connectors, etc).

 

Communication Sites, on the other hand, are a great way to create and promote compelling information with others (e.g., we use Communication Sites in our adoption campaigns, e.g., Office Adoption Campaign) but, because Communication Sites do not come with an O365 Group, you are more limited in what you can do with them (i.e., you cannot attach a Communcation Site to an MS Teams for instance).

 

Beyond these differences, you can make a Team Site look the same as a Communication Site as the webparts and navigation are the same. This makes sense as you may want to have a nice looking Team Site to share information with your team.

 

I hope this helps.

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I have the same questions/concerns.
I have read that if you wish to connect your site to a Hub Site, then it is best to use a Communication Site to ensure that the site picks up the Navigation from the Hub.

This leads me to believe that there are technical differences between a Team site and a Communication site.  And if this is true, are they just settings that can be changed?  

I need to now if I can change my existing team sites into communication sites that can be connected to a Hub Site.

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Yes, both modern Team Sites and Communication sites are different since they are based on different site templates....can you share where you have read that is is best to use communication sites when working with Hub Sites? In regards to your question about changing existint sites into communication sites, this is not possible
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I have Noticed:

 

1. I find that you can associate a classic SharePoint site to a hub site if you turn on the Site Pages feature in Site Features, then create a new Home page for the classic site using the Site Page layout.

 

2. By default, on a Communication site, you cannot create additional page libraries, only document libraries.

 

3. Team sites are really Outlook Group sites, with the same objects being generated as would be if you created the group from Outlook.  Group/Team sites require you to choose Private or Public, and by default it makes the entire group the site collection administrator.  Somehow, SharePoint differentiates between Owners and Members inside the group; and even thought the entire group is SCA, permissions of Owners and Members do differ somewhat.  The group also shows up in the Members group of the site, as seen in Advanced Permissions.  Advanced Permissions is hidden in Site Settings on Team sites, but you can still get there using the usual URL (/_layouts/15/user.aspx), or via the new Permissions UI.

 

Nick

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Adding my frustration...

 

I find the choice between Team and Communication site to be increadibly confusing. We're just a small company who needs an intranet, plain and simple. When I created our company's site about 6-12 months ago, I used a Communication site. Why, I'm not sure. I think I needed a certain web part or something, though I'm not sure if I ended up using it. 

 

Now I wanted to add the Planner Web Part, but for some reason that's exclusive to team sites. I guess I could move everything over (manually), but what about the Sharepoint document library I created? It doesn't seem I link to it from a team site. Was it wrong of me to use a communication site for the company's file server in the first place?

 

Oh pretty please give me a simple advise on what to use. Why can't we just have one single "Modern Site" template and then let users customize it to the way they like over time?

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The omission of the Planner web part does strike me as odd, though the existing Planner web part is hyper tuned to the Groups experience. That's why it doesn't currently work with Comms sites, though I agree that (especially if the Plan is public) there should be the ability to add ANY Plan to the web part.

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Very good discussions here. Very helpful.
Besides what discussed here already, one other difference is Communication sites do not have left navigation where Modern Team Sites have both the top and left navigation.

But now - there’s Modern Team Sites without the O365 Groups, just came out not too long ago. So technically it is just like the Communication sites. But there still are some differences:
1) Modern Team Sites w/o the O365 group can be Groupified later on and then attach to Teams if someone wants to do so to use other features that comes with Teams and O365 Group. This is not possible as of yet with the Communication sites (and you probably you don’t want to do so anyways).

2) Communcation Sites do not have the left nav that I mentioned above, may be this will be changed down the road and user can decide whether they want left nav or not.

3) Microsoft releasing very soon Mega Menue, Footer, updated Site Design for Modern Sites. However, as of now it looks like Footer only will be available for the Communication sites only and also for some specific pages in the Communication sites. Not sure why it’s not be available for other Modern Sites, makes no sense really.


Re permission - The most confusing thing with the Modern Team Sites with the O365 Group is permissioning the site: you can permission such a site via O365 Group membership or via SharePoint UI like we all are used to. When you permission via Group it shows the # of group members at the top of the site. If permission was given outside of the O355 Group via the SharePoint permission, the site membership does not reflect properly as it only uses the Group Members for that, confusing to users.
Plus with with Group Memebrship, permission only can be owner or members, this may work for a smaller org but any mid to large orgs permission needs to be need to know basis - Owner ( Full control) Contribute, Read. We can’t have everyone editing data, some just read, and this is very confusing with the Modern Sites with O365 Groups. And this probably is one of the reasons now Modern Sites w/o O365 Group. Thanks.



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Agreed! I share the same frustration. As a part-time SharePoint Administrator I do not have the expertise to catch the implications of the terms and language used in the help texts and discussion forums on the topic. I also started out with a communication site because the main purpose was to broadcast information, only to find out the various limitations later. One by one.

 

I now think that if there is any level of user/guest contribution or permission management one should go for a team site!?!

 

The preconfigured design-template aspect of the team vs. communication site's initial setup  is secondary to me. What I need is an overview of hard limitations in terms of web parts, permission management, user/guest grouping, navigation etc. Who would guess that it is not possible to implement a left side navigation bar in a communication site? 

 

What are the things you can NOT do when you start out with a team site? Any?

 

 

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I wrote this up as I was doing my testing. Biggest for me was communication sites don't allow guests.

And not having Planner.

 

What are the technical differences between a communication site and a team site?

  • Communication sites don't have the option of creating a classic wiki style page that allows our old customizations from on-premise to work.
  • Pages in a communication site can have a full width section that can contain an image or a hero webpart. Team sites only have a one column section, and it doesn't go the full width. 
  • Communication sites don't have an Office 365 group. Security is done with the standard SharePoint permissions groups. No guests allowed.
  • Communication sites have no Planner, because there isn't a group. Though you could link to another groups Planner, but permissions would be tricky.
  • Otherwise, webparts look the same.
  • Since there isn't a left navigation column in a communication site, images in the top of pages or on a full width section bleed fully to the edge of the page.
  • The first release of the Mega Menu will only work on communication sites. Same with the new footer.
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This is not all correct as of mid June 2019.

1) You can allow guest/external access to a comm's site via the SharePoint admin center.

2) While the quicklaunch is present in a modern SharePoint teams site, the page content will stretch to be full width like a Comm's site if the quicklaunch is emptied.

3) Yes you can not make classic style pages in a Comm's site

4) Yes there is no Planner plan linked as there is no 365 Group associated with a Comm's site


What I would like to know is if Microsoft intends to allow a 365 Group or (purple) Team to be associated with a Communications site.

The reason for this is to use the Comm's site's navigation and theme settings inside a Teams tab. This would enable a company to use Outlook and Teams exclusively, cutting down on jumps/jolts in interface for the end users.
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@Peter Vincent  #2 is not entirely correct.  Yes if you remove the quick launch the page will stretch to the left but the main content area of a modern page in a team site is limited in width and will not fully stretch to the right like a page in a communications site would.

 


@Peter Vincent wrote:

2) While the quicklaunch is present in a modern SharePoint teams site, the page content will stretch to be full width like a Comm's site if the quicklaunch is emptied.
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@Steven Tolboe  You cant use Planner web part :( not happy about that 

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Thanks for that input, it's possibly the best summary I have read in months. I'm very intrigued with your comment regarding no guests on communication sites. I haven't found this to be a problem, at least not yet anyway I'm able to add guest users via AAD and then provision access to those guest users within SharePoint. admittedly I haven't tried this on a communication site at a site level permission as yet, only granular access to lists and libraries on a communication site.