SharePoint Sites versus Webs

Microsoft Office

SharePoint Sites versus Webs

This is a post I wrote long ago for my previous blog. I’ve been asked what the difference is between Site and Web; here I’m going to tackle that question head on!

First and foremost, Microsoft didn’t make the differentiation of these two easy to follow as they use the terms interchangeably. In this article I’ll be describing the technical naming conventions and how to simplify this for non-technical business users.

For reference, I’m using the term Site (SPSite) to indicate a Site Collection and Web (SPWeb) to reference an actual web site. These are the technical internal terms used.

The first thing to remember about a SharePoint Site, for both on-premise and Office 365, is it’s just a site. Same for a Web, it is just a website. What makes each of these unique are the features enabled for that specific template and the content types to display pages on those Webs.

Site Collection

A Site Collection is a container of Webs. Every Site Collection has a single top-level Web. The top-level Web can have zero to many sub-webs.

From a development perspective, a Site Collection can be created or accessed via the SPSite class.


A Web is the actual web site.

From a development perspective, a Web can be created or accessed via the SPWeb class.

Below is an image that describes the Site Collection and Web relationships.

Working with End Users

When working with non-technical end users, you may just wish to use the terms Site Collection and Site. There’s no need to confuse them with the internal class/object names.


In SharePoint, a site is just a site and a web is just a web; they are all fundamentally the same with different features enabled. For example, a Publishing site is just a site collection with the Publishing feature enabled.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you need additional information!

SharePoint on!

Bob Mixon

My primary goal in life is to support my family, be a friend and enjoy each day as it may be my last. For work, I am a Senior Office 365 and SharePoint Solution Architect, Senior Information Architect and Microsoft SharePoint MVP. You can read my entire profile here.

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