Top Ten Tips for Professional Sitecore Development

Mar 28 2023

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Mastering Sitecore Development: Top 10 Tips for Building Professional Websites

With the rise of digitalization, marketing and technology have come together to create digital experiences that suited customers’ ever-evolving expectations.

The Digital Experience platform like Sitecore has gone above and beyond the web to provide efficient solutions to customer-centric brands. Right from scaling content creation to tailor customer experiences, the platform is developed with exquisite content management capabilities to boost conversions and brand growth.

Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2020-2021, comprising 432 marketing leaders across the globe, has found that CMOs expect to fuel business growth by allocating bigger budgets to marketing technologies.

Sitecore development, along with the advancements like high scalability, robust APIs integrations, cloud deployment, and digital marketing automation, is holding the power to help brands in delivering personalized experiences.

Through this blog, we will understand what Sitecore truly means for enterprises and learn some useful tips to start development with Sitecore.

Understanding Sitecore – What it means for Enterprises

Martech innovation is gaining a huge momentum in the customer-driven market. With a wide variety of content management tools available in the market, companies are empowered to select powerful digital content management platforms and complement it with efficient solutions to drive business growth.

Sitecore is known for its unique and powerful web experience & content management capabilities that offer granular content approach to re-use content fields or items across channels. With a strong hold for creating consistent customer experience journey, the platform named among 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant as the market-leading digital experiences platform (DXP).  

Sitecore Capabilities at a Glance

Created in 2001, Sitecore is a powerful digital experience management platform, offering two major products i.e., a fully adaptive CMS and a powerful Digital Marketing System. It is one of the popular enterprise grade content management platforms built on framework.

Now, with the addition of Moosend for campaign management, Boxever for Customer Data Platforms (CDP) optimization, and new commerce capabilities in Four51, the platform is an all-in-one solution for digital experience transformation.

Starting from core Sitecore development and engineering principles to reusable content strategies, enterprises can leverage the breadth of the platform by giving controls to web content editors and marketing executives over all aspects of the website like how to maintain and grow it.

Top 10 Tips for Successful Sitecore Development

Sitecore is a flexible web-development platform (a customizable role-based system) that supports personalization, campaign management, analytics and much more.

Sitecore development projects are fully-fledged websites that are easy to understand by developers, web-editors and end-users.

Now the question is, how can you get the best out of using Sitecore?

Here are our top tips that can help you in Sitecore development, based on our own experience as a certified Sitecore partner for digital enablement. 

Follow Helix Principles

To build out a successful Sitecore architecture, the most important tip is to follow Helix principles. It includes a series of best practices to follow during the implementation. Following these guidelines allows you to build the architecture efficiently so that it can be maintained and troubleshooted based on future needs. 

Create an onboarding guide – Map out everything 

It is essential to create an onboarding guide that can help bring collaboration across the organization. Map out all the components involved in your projects before heading into the details. To architect a logical solution, you need to get into the complex relationships with data. In addition, the project roadmap strategy should be transparent with the client in the form of sprint meetings or workshops.  

Map out the structure such as:    

  • How the content will be planned and distributed across the components, modules, pages in the Sitecore

  • What includes a module and what includes a page

  • What building blocks are required for the development or implementation (data templates, layouts, page renderings, module renderings, etc.)

  • What additional information will be needed like category list, themes, and so on

Be thoughtful of Web Editors

When you’re architecting a project on Sitecore, it is important to cater to the needs of your customers and visitors. However, you must pay attention on the needs of stakeholders like internal web editors, marketers who will be using the platform to manage the website content. A good Sitecore architecture makes the page creation and editing a breeze: clearly define the areas for widgets datasources, labels and configuration items. Remember that widget datasources are different from the site’s page structure. Because this helps in making reusability and personalization of content easier.

Helpful Guide: What’s New in the Sitecore to Stay ahead of the Curve

Set Standard Values

All your page types should be allocated with standard values. This enables content editors to see a base page layout when they need new pages to add in the project. The base page layout should be compatible with site’s original structure and design. This way, developers need not to worry about the consistency of pages with the layout. With set standard values, editors can head straight into content creation.

Select the right Development Tools

Choosing the right development tools for your Sitecore implementation can save hours spent in each development sprint. There are a number of tools every Sitecore developer should be familiar with: Visual Studio, SQL Server, Git client, Sitecore Unicorn, Sitecore PowerShell Extensions, Gulp, Grunt, MSBuild for automated build workflow, Docker for container orchestration, etc.

Think in terms of Whole Modules

Your Sitecore implementation should not be overloaded with modules as it makes difficult for marketers to do their jobs. And difficult for developers too to troubleshoot things when something goes out of track. As a leading Sitecore agency, Icreon follows all the best practices to create and optimize successful Sitecore projects that take charge of their digital experiences. To make it easy for web managers, you should group all the elements that make up part of a content piece and combine them into a module. For instance, let’s consider a customer review. A client review ideally comprises a header for the title, a copy section that includes the actual client review, and a photo of the person who is giving the review. All of these elements can be combined to make a single module that web editors can reuse in their Sitecore project.

Get clarity over Page Content and Module Content

As you combined different elements to create a single module, you can group different modules in pages. The result is that many of your pages will get allocated to certain categories like blog, product pages, long-form resource content, and so on. To give personalization, it’s likely your marketers will add some unique content to the page so that it will serve well to target audience. For instance, an Insights page may have a feature image, a title, a copy section, social icons, and perhaps a CTA button asking people to sign up for your blog updates. For such cases, you can enable marketers by pre-loading these modules into the page template of your Sitecore project. A pro tip here is that if every page of a certain type is having the same module, then it should be dealt at the page level, not the module level.   

Might Helpful: Six Lessons Learned from Launching our New Website on Sitecore

Identify Global and Page Components

As mentioned above, if a component is global then it should not be allocated to a specific page every time. In contrast, it should be the part of the site structure. For example, your web editors shouldn’t involve in making a header and footer display every time they publish a new blog. Those global elements should automatically come up as part of the background coding.    

Consider Content Reusability

Content reusability creates tremendous opportunity for businesses to personalize content for target audience. With Sitecore, web editors can create the content once, centrally, fully work flowed, reviewed, and then make that content accessible across every device, display and channel.

It is always in the radar of marketers to churn out revenue-boosting content. So, make sure your Sitecore content is reusable whenever required. If there are chances of reusability of content across other pages, or multiple sites, your trusted Sitecore agency must architect the project in a way that it could become easy to store and reuse. 

Enable Personalization

As Sitecore is all about setting rules for personalization, content editors can perform personalization to a great extent on Sitecore components without setting up profiling. Some categories include IP information, item states, item content, triggered goals, page types, and so on. The new Customer Data Platform will help markers to pull together customer behavior and their transactional data and leverage the content foundation to deliver the right message.

In ideal scenarios, users may need to personalize a whole module in Sitecore, for example, user might want to put selected client reviews on display on different page types, based on traffic they are driving to the site. If users take granular approach to set rules for each individual elements in that review, they might end up in a mess. So, to avoid this problem, it is preferred to teaming up with a Sitecore partner that can enable personalization throughout the architecture phase and guide you through the renderings they are building.                  

One great example of implementing personalization in Sitecore is an American contemporary art gallery. Icreon team worked on the project to take emotional experience of art selling to the next level with virtual viewing room experience. The result of the personalization led the organization to a record-breaking sale of $1.8M.

Get the best out of your Sitecore Projects

Sitecore is a very powerful and flexible digital experience platform that delivers omni-channel user experiences. When kicking off a Sitecore project, stay open minded until you’ve created a complete pre-build process. The best Sitecore development agency knows how to follow best practices to turn website into an experience-driven tool. Facing problems in your Sitecore projects! Consult with us and we’ll tell you how we tackle different Sitecore projects.