Getting inside the mind of a Sitecore developer for their thoughts on what makes Sitecore tick
Martin Davies is an award winning (but very modest) Sitecore developer at Kagool. He’s one of 19 in the UK elite of Sitecore MVPs (Most valuable professional).
We had a chat with Martin to find out what it’s like being an MVP and working so closely with Sitecore.
Q: How long have you been developing in Sitecore and .Net?
A: “I’ve worked with .Net for 5 years and specifically with Sitecore for about 3 and a half. But I’ve been a developer in general for 8 years.
I’d done web development before, things like patient management systems in a hospital and a property development project in Bulgaria –which was odd.
Kagool is the first digital agency I’ve worked for and the Sitecore content management system is the only platform I’ve really worked with. This was my first time working with C# or commercial sites at an enterprise level.”
Q: Why Sitecore? What lifts it above the other platforms that you could work with?
A: “It’s not just a static system, it’s a framework. So it has the ability to be customised. And it’s extendable to the ‘nth degree. It can be anything to anyone.
We’ve built sites for organisations that had 10 people and not the biggest budget. And then on the other side of the spectrum, HSBC use Sitecore. What’s great is Sitecore works just as well for both. Companies don’t have to compromise.
I think, in the past few years, the marketing automation features are really selling Sitecore. They’re working to bring everything into one place. So, with other CMS you can integrate systems and they’re fine –but there’s always going to be limitations. The limitations you have with integrating third party systems just doesn’t happen in Sitecore, because it’s all right there. Integration is built into the Sitecore architecture.”
Q: What’s the best project that you’ve done with Sitecore?
A: “I’ve been involved in the Formica website build for about a year and half. They’re a very old company and they’ve grown organically and globally over time. And now they’re at a place where they’re trying to consolidate all their strategies.
So there’s individual teams that manage each of their sites all over the world, but gradually these are coming together. They’re working towards a single but global team.
The project is different because we’re not just building a Sitecore website and saying “here you go”, we’re building a site to grow and change shape over time. And it’s been really rewarding to help Formica with that change and see them grow.”
Q: Favourite thing about Sitecore?
A: “As a developer, when you need a problem solved, you know the answer is in Sitecore. The challenging bit is finding out the best or fastest way of solving the problem. Things are just where I expect them to be and it feels natural.
Also with personalisation, I feel like Sitecore are taking a more intelligent approach than other platforms. As a real life example, I bought a bike recently and the shop sent me emails trying to sell me a bike. But I already had a bike. The smarter approach would be to email me 6 months down the line, offering me a puncture repair kit. That’s what Sitecore helps marketers do.”
Q: Anything you would improve?
A: “That’s a hard one. If I had to say anything, it’d probably be around fixes. There’s a lot of community fixes that are commonly used from one site build to another. And because I know these are going to come up when I start a new build, it’d be good if these fixes were just integrated into Sitecore already. But Sitecore are actually working on this.”
Q: What did it take to become a Sitecore MVP?
A: “I had done a lot of promotion on social media for projects I did before Kagool. So when I got here, it was just second nature to tweet about my work. And I realised that with Sitecore, I was contributing to a community. I recognised that I could benefit from blogging in this community, learning and getting answers from other developers. So I did a lot of it.
Someone just suggested that I try to get nominated. So I had to ask around Sitecore and other MVPs. But I actually found out that some people were already considering me, which was really nice to hear.”
Q: How do you continue to be a Sitecore MVP?
A: “It’s more about maintaining the developer community, rather than just being the biggest brain.
It’s daunting because I feel like I have to top what I did last year –I wonder how long I can keep that up!”
Q: What’s it like being a Sitecore developer at Kagool?
A: “We don’t tend to build simple brocuhureware sites. Plus we only work in Sitecore. So we get to sink our teeth into some difficult technical problems. And the whole team is Sitecore focused. I think that’s what a lot of devs at Kagool enjoy most.
The coffee’s good too.”
Q: What advice would you give other developers looking to work with Sitecore?
A: “Use the community. It’s probably one of the biggest assets to a Sitecore developer. If you have a problem, you could spend two days on it and come up with a substandard solution. Or you could just ask the Sitecore developer community and in an hour you’d have a smart, comprehensive answer.
There’s a feel of camaraderie in the community and a culture of learning that really sets it apart.”
Kagool is made up of over 40 digital specialists and specialist Sitecore developers. We’re one of the UK’s leading Sitecore partner. And we’re the only partner to work exclusively with Sitecore.
If you want to know more about Sitecore enterprise website design, get in touch with us. We can give you advice on Sitecore pricing. And if you’re new to Sitecore, talk to us about a free Sitecore demo.