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Choosing a site template can often seem like a daunting task with so many different templates to choose from, but it doesn't have to be. SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise Edition offers 18 site templates out of the box and by asking a set of yes or no questions you can quickly walk through the key criteria for picking the right site template for you.
The way this blog questionnaire works is by first going through very specialized templates and then through some less specialized and not as common templates, and then finally going through the most common templates. This is done by first eliminating the odd and less common templates then making the decision among the core templates that you're likely to use most often.
First, there are four templates that are very rarely considered because they're so specialized for administrators that you'll probably never need them. They are:
For these templates there are three key questions and site templates:
If your site doesn't fall under one of those three categories then the next question to consider is: Is the site for formal document management or will its primary purpose be for search?
The first question is whether the site will be for formal document management, which doesn't mean simple version control of documents, but rather a large scale document management or knowledge management initiative with or without regulatory compliance needs.
If you're doing formal document management, the next question is whether the site will be an official repository for records. In this case, the right answer is the record center template which is setup to handle records management. If not, you need to consider if you're creating the site to manage eDiscovery requests. eDiscovery requests are electronic discovery requests that are caused by legal cases or regulatory requests. You'll know if you need to create an eDiscovery center for compliance events. If not, you'll probably want to start with the standard Document Center template.
The second question for less common block is whether the site will be used primarily for search. If so you'll have to decide whether you need multiple search interfaces in the same site – in other words a tabbed interface. If yes, then you'll need to use the Enterprise site template which includes the built in capability to include multiple search and result pages. If a simple site – without tabs – will do then you can use the basic search center.
For the most common templates, the major questions are whether the site will be used primarily for communication (vs. collaboration), whether the site will be project specific, and finally whether you anticipate more than 100 users.
Communication sites are different than collaboration sites. If the site will be primarily intended for a small number of people to communicate with a large number of people then it is a communication site. If it's a communication site the next question is whether the information will be unstructured – in other words a collection of random notes. If that's the case, an Enterprise Wiki – with its less structured approach may be ideal.
If it's for structured communication, you simply need to decide whether you're going to have a formal approval workflow. Of the Publishing Site and Publishing Site with Workflow templates the Publishing Site with Workflow template is used for more formal approval situations.
If the site won't be for communication, the next question is whether it is project related. That is, will the site be associated with a single specific project – in that case you'll probably want to use the project site template.
The last question is the basis of the site. Are you building a site to have conversations or manage documents? If you're doing a conversation based site, you'll want to leverage the community site template. If, instead you're focused around management of documents, you'll want to use the Team Site template.
With those questions you should have determined which of the 18 site templates that may work best for your situation.