7 Sitecore pitfalls and how to avoid them

5th May 2014

Lessons from the front line

As Sitecore Partners, we love it. There are countless websites out there that follow best practice, put their customers at the centre of the story and deliver true business value.  But we do see the same mistakes made time and time again when we perform audits. So if you’re considering bringing Sitecore into your organisation, there are a few warning signs to look out for:

1. Taking an old-fashioned page-based approach

This is a big one but all too familiar. The real power of Sitecore comes when implemented as an object-based CMS, with all the benefits that go with it. When a website has been built on the old page-based paradigm, it makes it difficult to share content, dynamically personalise etc. Make sure that anyone developing for your site understands how to build for objects and why this matters.

2. Not enabling Sitecore Page Editor 

Another concept that may surface too late is use of the Sitecore Page Editor. This is more than just a clean, straightforward interface to edit your content. It’s an elegant way to give different permission levels to editors in your organisation. On top of that, the Page Editor is the means by which you can apply rules to present different, personalised content to your audiences. Normally when we see this, it’s a case of having to re-work the implementation.

3. Not getting set up for Sitecore DMS early on

Sitecore Digital Marketing System (DMS) is a powerful tool and has been taking market share away from pureplay marketing automation software. It’s also one of the reasons people buy Sitecore – to be able to measure engagement, present relevant personalised content and a host of other benefits. The mistake people make is to consider DMS when it’s too late. Yes, there is effort required in getting the best out of DMS, even before you touch Sitecore. But without that preparation, organisations will simply find they don’t or can’t use the power of the joined-up Sitecore offering.

4. Ignoring Analytics

Sitecore has a powerful in-built analytics engine that will give you an in-context view that you won’t get from other packages. It’s never too early to start collecting data, so make sure that this is in place when your website is launched. You can always create the reports afterwards but the data has to be there…

5. Designing with a desktop mindset

Designing for desktop only is something we see less frequently these days. However, it is practically mandatory to build for Sitecore with a view on mobile and tablet. One look at your analytics will show how far your customers are along the journey to mobile – and when they are going to reach that tipping point. But how you approach non-desktop devices needs some thought. Do you take a responsive or adaptive approach? Perhaps the ‘best of both worlds’. These decisions are best taken early on. It’s possible to rework existing Sitecore implementations, but far better to consider from the outset.

6. Planning in isolation

When planning a Sitecore web project companies can miss opportunities to add value by integrating with other business systems. Sitecore has a mature API that developers like working with. So it pays to think about integration early on…

7. Lack of a business case

On a more general note, a well-considered business case is essential. One that has passed through the filters of stakeholders requirements. All too often, organisations want to re-create what they had before in a new platform. That is a huge missed opportunity to align the business goals with needs of your customers. Sitecore will change nearly every organisation that adopts it, hopefully early on in the selection and discovery process. If no organisational change happens during the re-platform to Sitecore project, then chances are you’re not getting the most out of Sitecore.