Differences: SharePoint Communication and Team Sites

I wanted to go over some of the not always obvious differences between communication sites and team sites. The difference in layout may be visible once you’re used to SharePoint, but I know it’s a point of great frustration for many learning SharePoint for the first time. Things like the applications that are provisioned, back end features available, and how to manage permissions are template specific and not as glaring.

The differences between Team and Communication sites varies far more than just a in its look and feel, but lets start with there because it’s the first indicator of what type of site you’re on.


Layout differences

The benefit of team sites is the additional left hand navigation. This can be set and edited in multiple ways and provides an additional structured approach to links. The advantage to the communication sites is the full width sections. There are various web part options available for full-width. 

Team site

Left hand navigation

Communication site

Full width sections

Applications Provisioned

The biggest difference in my opinion is the applications that are provided when the site is created. Microsoft is making it clear that communication sites are strictly SharePoint sites and used to communicate not collaborate. On the other hand, team sites are provisioned with a slew of other applications that drive collaboration. 

Communication sites are for showing information. It provides a flexible layout for one to a few, to present information for others to view. Team sites are for working together on items. It provides a flexible layout for a few to many to share and collaborate on.

Team Site

SharePoint Site

Shared Mailbox

Shared Calendar

Stream Video Portal

Power BI Workspace

OneNote Notebook

*Can add Team easily

Communication Site

SharePoint Site

Back End Differences

There are some different back end options available between team and communication sites but one I’d like to draw to your attention is multilingual. Enabling pages and news to be translated is an option that’s only available on communication sites. While the actual translation is a manual process, after you set up multilingual the notification process is automatic. Another benefit is each user is directed to the page according to their M365 selected language if the page is available.

Team Site

Site Settings – Site Administration – Site languages

No option to enable multiple languages

Site Settings – Look and Feel

Navigation Elements

Site Settings – Site Actions

Reset to site definition

Site Settings – Site Administration

Site libraries and lists

Sites and workspaces

Communication Site

Site Settings – Site Administration – Site languages

Can enable multiple languages

Site Settings – Users and Permissions

People and groups
Site permissions
Site collection administrators
Site app permissions

Site Settings – Look and Feel

Title, description, and logo

Site Settings – Site Actions

Delete this site

Administration Differences

The administration of communication sites is pretty straight forward. Admins can do more than owners, who can do more than members, and visitors are the least permissive. All adding and removing of users and groups is done through SharePoint, either in the Admin Center or the site collection itself.

A team site is a little more complicated. While administrators can only be added through SharePoint,  owners, members, and visitors can also be add at the group level (outside of SharePoint). 

Microsoft recommends using built-in SharePoint groups for communication sites and using the M365 group associated with the site to manage team sites. 

*Full control

Team Site

*Site admins

*Site owners (also managed at group or team level)

Site members (also managed at group or team level)

Site visitors (also managed at group or team level)

*Additional admins 

Communication Site

*Site admins

*Site owners

Site members

Site visitors

Thank you for reading and I hope you learned something!

Sam Collins

Sam Collins

Sam has been working with the Microsoft product suite for more than 10 years. Sams focus is on not only providing solutions that work but ensuring that the solution is liked and accepted at the user level. With a passion for doing things the right way, Sam has developed a set of special skills that get executives what they want while keeping the users enthusiastic.

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