Sitecore development

3rd February 2016

Which Information Architecture approach is right for you?

When it comes to Sitecore development, there’s a lot to consider. Proper implementation is crucial to great enterprise website design. With the right digital partner, your Sitecore development can be tailored to suit your content needs and marketing targets.

Sitecore’s a very flexible platform compared to other enterprise website content management systems. To help their customers along, they’ve created a number of best practice guidelines. But there are still varying approaches to Sitecore development to be aware of.

Sitecore development best practice for building the IA

Sitecore’s architecture is built for ease of use and scalability. And your approach to Sitecore’s Information Architecture (IA) depends on who will use your installation and how they’ll use it. This includes your page structures, object blocks and navigation.

For example, Sitecore’s best practice guidelines state that pages should be placed under the home node and other content items should not. Any item under the home node represents the pages of your site that visitor see. So Sitecore recommends these pages should contain presentation information.

Why follow the best practice advice?

  • Anything under the home node will appear within your site map. Search engines can index these items. You may not want non-page items indexed.
  • If you allow non-page content to be added in a number of locations, you can’t set a Datasource location. This makes it hard for editors to quickly add widgets, change Datasources and create new content.
  • If the data source location is set under the context page, editors will be completely unable to reuse content. This could cause editors to duplicate content.

Example: Ignoring the best practice guidelines could hinder A/B testing

Imagine a promo panel on one page is working really well. The editor wants to test if that same promo panel will work well on another page. You’d expect them to go into the page editor and use Sitecore’s testing tool. But in this scenario, the editor can’t reuse that promo panel because they can’t access it from the Datasource window.

So what can they do? Firstly, they can create a new item with the same data as the other promo panel. But the object-based nature of the Sitecore architecture aims to avoid duplication. It wastes the editor’s time and causes problems for Sitecore SEO.

Why go against the best practice guidelines?

While the guidelines may seem clear cut, putting non-page items in the site map can sometimes be justified. It all comes down to editor preference and the view of the Sitecore developer building the site.

When could this be useful? Imagine you have a text block that you want to add to a specific page. If you don’t intend to use that content anywhere else, you could store it under the page on the site map. This would make it easier for an editor to find and use this content.

But if the editor later decides they want to reuse that content on another page, it could be problematic. They’d have to navigate the whole site tree to find that content element. This would make the entire process of adding content to pages more difficult and time-consuming.

Make your Sitecore development work for you

An editor should be able to jump right into a Sitecore implementation and use all the tools available to them. And they shouldn’t have to think about where content is being stored. Editors look for ease consistency in their content management. That’s why editors love the page editor in the Sitecore content management system (CMS). If your editors can easily manage their CMS, you can avoid costly formal training in the future.

Sitecore development isn’t set in stone. It can mould to your businesses specific needs and preferences. Good digital partners will know how to incorporate best practice into your Sitecore installation. But they’ll also know how to deliver and implementation that benefits you.

We’re one of the UK’s leading Sitecore Platinum Partners. At Kagool, we pride ourselves on being exclusively Sitecore. So we know how to get the best from the platform.

If you want to know more about our approach to Sitecore development, we offer a free Sitecore demo for new customers. If you’re an existing Sitecore user, talk to us about a Sitecore audit and find out how you can get more from Sitecore