Sitecore projects

Sitecore projects
29th February 2016

Six tips for successful Sitecore projects

Successful Sitecore projects result in well-built websites that are easy to use for developers, editors and end-users. This requires a clear understanding of what makes a successful Sitecore build.

Sitecore is a very powerful and flexible web development platform. When starting Sitecore projects stay open minded until you’ve carried out a detailed pre-build process. Once you’ve been through pre-build there are a number of tips and tricks that can make the Sitecore website build run smoothly.

Here are six of our top tips for successful Sitecore projects

1. Clear page types

During the pre-build phase a number of key content types should’ve been discovered and defined. These page types will guide the focus of the content. Not just within Sitecore, but also for editors who are working within Sitecore. These page types will be used throughout your solution. It’s vital that they’re well defined and focused. They should cater for all expected content outcomes.

Specified page types make customisation quicker and easier for editors. It also helps make sure content fields are relevant to the focus of each page type. This takes away any confusion for future editors and helps avoid inconsistency.

For example, blog pages may specify the need for an author. But product pages won’t. So the author selector would only be appear when creating a blog page.

2. Understanding your Sitecore widgets

It’s important to understand the purpose of each widget. You need to know if it can be reused and what page types it’s relevant to. Always figure out which pages and placeholders a widget can be used on. Even if the designer hasn’t put a widget in a page design, at some point the content editor might want to

For example, they might want use a promo panel from one page type to another. You need to understand which widgets can only be used on certain pages and which work across multiple page types.

This should be done during the build phase of Sitecore projects. Define whether a single widget can display different levels of data or different themes based on its datasource. Establishing these rules in the Sitecore implementation will make it easier for editors to customise pages later.

3. Map out your information architecture

The most important step to take with Sitecore projects is to completely map out your site’s information architecture (IA). Make sure you follow best practice for Sitecore’s architecture. And clearly define areas for widget datasources, labels and configuration items

It’s important to make sure widget datasources are separate from the site’s page structure. This makes it easier for content to be reused and personalised.

Remember the site won’t be used by developers, so keep it consistent. What makes sense to a developer may not be as easy to use for an editor.

4. Standard values

All your page types should have standard values. This lets editors see a base page layout when they add new pages to their Sitecore projects. The base page layout should be in line with the site’s original design. So developers don’t have to worry about consistency with layout or content across pages.

Standard values help editors dive straight into content creation. They don’t have to waste any time adding widgets to a page or searching for relevant objects.

5. Consider the editor(s)

Editors look for consistency and structure in Sitecore projects. Developers need to keep in mind that new editors may not get any real Sitecore training. So the Sitecore setup has to be clear to current and future users.

Make sure all widgets have datasource locations set. So when editors are selecting widget datasources, they’re guided to the right place in the Sitecore tree. This saves a lot of time for editors. Datasource templates help editors quickly make new widget datasource items within the experience editor. They also restrict datasource selection to objects defined by the template. This way you reduce the likelihood for editors to make mistakes and speed up their work process.

6. Sitecore Experience Editor

Every widget created within your Sitecore projects should work in the experience editor. An editor should be able to move widgets around the page placeholders, change datasources, add, remove, personalise and edit Meta data for widgets from the experience editor.

If a widget has additional data, such as parameters, then additional editor buttons should be added. This gives editors access to the values. Make sure they can edit all the appropriate fields in the experience editor.

It’ll take a little Sitecore developer magic to make sure all fields use the correct syntax and HTML. And to get this is in line with W3C best practice. But the benefits to editors is immeasurable. If you follow the other five steps, the editor experience should be simple. The most obvious indicator of a bad Sitecore setup is a poor editor experience. If this is the case, your site might need an audit.

Get the best out of your Sitecore projects

The best digital partners know how to follow best practice and create successful Sitecore projects. At Kagool we’re Sitecores specialists who build great Sitecore projects every day.

We’re one of the UK’s leading Sitecore Platinum Partners. If you want to know more about how we tackle Sitecore projects, let us give you a free Sitecore demo.

If you’re an existing Sitecore user, talk to us about a Sitecore audit and find out how you can get more from Sitecore.

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