Rules of thumb for when to use a site, a subsite, or a site collection?

  • Rules of thumb for when to use a site, a subsite, or a site collection? ngm

    I am developing a company website/portal in SharePoint, and am trying to figure out the best way to organise it into site collections, sites and subsites -- I'm confused by the terminology I think.

    The site has a public-facing Internet presence which is to be managed via the Publishing WCM features of SharePoint. Behind the scenes there will be some portal features, such as personalised dashboards and a collaborative wiki.

    For the public-facing content, the site structure is as so:

    • Home
    • Company
      • About Us
      • Testimonials
      • ...
      • ...
      • etc
    • Products
      • Product 1
      • Product 2
      • ...
      • ...
      • etc
    • Support
      • a support section for customers requiring a login
    • Contact Us
      • one web page with contact details

    The top-level sections in my hierarchy, i.e. Home, Company, Products, Support, Contact Us would share the same master page and top-level navigation, and Company and Products will each have a left-placed submenu to go to each page in their section. I'm wondering how to structure this in terms of sites/subsites/site collections.

    My initial thoughts is to have a site collection where the top-level site for the collection is the public-facing publishing side of things.

    But then I'm not sure whether 'Company' and 'Products' should be subsites of the top-level publishing site, or simply pages within the top-level publishing site. As Company and Products are just collections of basic HTML content, to have each one as a 'subsite' feels like overkill, but that may just be because I'm not used to the terminology. I would ordinarily just think of them as subsections of a website.

    The 'Support' section is essentially a set of embedded mini-applications such as issue tracking. As it is more substantial, and is not viewable by anonymous users, it feels like it would warrant being at least a subsite, or maybe it should be a separate site collection?

    I would guess that the 'behind-the-scenes' portal, only accessible by employees, with features such as dashboards/collaborative wiki, would again be in a separate site collection.

    I guess my general question is, what are the rules of thumb for when to use a site, when to use a subsite, and when to use a site collection?

architecture site-collection publishing-site
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