Plan site navigation (SharePoint Foundation 2010)


Applies to: SharePoint Foundation 2010

Topic Last Modified: 2011-08-05

Site navigation provides the primary interface for site users to move around the sites and pages in your site. Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 includes a set of navigation features that can be customized and extended to help orient the users of your site so they can move around its sites and pages. This article contains general guidance about how to plan site navigation for your SharePoint Foundation 2010 sites. This article does not describe the types of navigation controls that are available in SharePoint Foundation 2010, nor does it explain how to add navigation controls to Web pages, how to configure navigation controls, or how to create custom navigation controls. For more information about site navigation controls, see Site navigation overview (SharePoint Foundation 2010) and Navigation Controls.

In this article:

Make a diagram of the sites that you want to create. For example, the following diagram is for a small travel company named Margie's Travel. The company has a set of internal sites to help them organize their core business, which is planning conventions.

Site diagram for Margie's travel

Your diagram might include a single site collection, such as the example for Margie's Travel, or it might have multiple site collections if you have a more complex set of sites. Be sure to include all top-level Web sites, sites, Meeting Workspace or Document Workspace sites, and other sites that you plan to create, and leave room for future expansion.

You might also want to include the lists and libraries for each site, especially if you are deciding whether to create a site for document storage or one or more document libraries.

The global navigation, or top link bar, appears at the top of all pages in the site, below the site title. By default, each site uses its own, unique top link bar, or you can decide to allow sites to inherit the top link bar from the parent site.

The top link bar can display two levels of sites in a site collection. For example, the top link bar for the Margie's Travel site collection might contain links for Margie's Travel Home, Office Management, Convention Planning, and Sales and Marketing. In this example, the top link bar looks like the following:

Home | Office Management | Convention Planning | Sales and Marketing

Although the top link bar can display two levels of sites, this does not mean that all sites at the second level have to be displayed on the top link bar. You can determine whether a site appears on the top link bar when you create it, or you can configure the navigation later in Site Settings.

However, by default, sites at a third level in the hierarchy do not appear on the top link bar for the top-level site, even if they inherit the navigation. For example, the Reports site would not be displayed on the top link bar of Margie's Travel Home because it is a site that is below the Convention Planning site. If you want this site to be displayed, you can manually add it to the top link bar or create it at the second level in the site hierarchy (as a site below Margie's Travel Home, instead of as a site below the Convention Planning site).

The top link bar cannot be shared between sites in different site collections. However, you can always manually add a link to a site in a different site collection.

If you want the Home tab of a site to open that site’s home page instead of the inherited navigation site's home page, then you should use unique navigation. Otherwise, you should use inherited navigation. For example, the Margie's Travel site collection could inherit the top links among all of the second-level sites so that all sites have the same navigation:

Home | Office Management | Convention Planning | Sales and Marketing

This works for a small team, such as in Margie's Travel, where all the users in the organization work with all the sites. Each user in the site collection uses each site so an inherited top link bar is useful. However, if the Convention Planning and Sales and Marketing teams work fairly independently and do not need access to each other's sites, then the navigation for Margie's Travel could be customized to be inherited at the second level, instead of the top level, as in the following:

Margie's Travel Home site: Home | Office Management

Convention Planning site: Convention Planning | Reports

Sales and Marketing site: Sales and Marketing

Remember that the global breadcrumb navigation always contains a link back to the top-level site in the site collection. Therefore, even though users of the Convention Planning site cannot visit Margie's Travel Home from the top link bar, they can visit it directly from the global breadcrumb navigation.

Although the choice of whether to inherit a navigation bar is made during site creation, you can change this option later. You might have to manually create links if you change your mind, but you can do so easily by using the Top Link Bar page in Site Settings for the affected sites.

Whether or not you decide to inherit the top link bar, you can customize the top link bar to include links to any other URL that you need. Depending on the extent of customization that you need, you can choose between the following methods to customize the top link bar:

  • If you want to add, remove, or rearrange the links in a top link bar, use the Top Link Bar page in Site Settings for the site.

  • If you want to create a completely customized top link bar and apply it to all sites in a site collection or to sites in a different site collection, use Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 or Microsoft Visual Studio 2010.

Other site navigation options that you can configure include Quick Launch and the tree view. The Quick Launch navigation typically highlights the important content in the current site.

You can customize the items that are displayed in the Quick Launch by adding new links, adding or changing headings, and changing the order in which links are displayed. To configure the Quick Launch navigation, use the Quick Launch page in Site Settings for the site.

Tree view navigation displays site content such as lists, libraries, and sites below the current site in a hierarchical manner. It is common for tree view navigation to appear on the left of each page in a site. By default, tree view navigation is turned off.

If you want to display your site content in a hierarchical way, you can display the tree view for users of your site. To enable the tree view for a site, use the Tree view page in Site Settings for the site.

Download an Excel version of the Site planning data worksheet. Use this worksheet to help record your decisions about site navigation.