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Getting Ahead with Sitecore

UX/UR Consultant & Sitecore MVP
Valtech UK

september 16, 2019

In an earlier article we talked about how to meet the potential of the platform you have invested in; we talk about it time and time again. It’s the equivalent of buying a jet and leaving it on your driveway… yes you’ve got the best in class, but if you can’t use it, what’s the point?!

A massive contributor to the issue is not having the skills and abilities in your team to know when and how to use all of the available features.

Sitecore is helping to bridge these gaps, with a range of services and tools that are well known and readily available… but do YOU have the resources that can get the most from them?

Over the last year I’ve been speaking to the Sitecore community, from independent contractors to some of the world's largest organisations and global agencies, looking for their feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Armed with those insights, I'm going to give you the best ways to get the best from your Sitecore team and your Sitecore platform. No more jets in driveways… just good clean advice that will help you get to where you need to be.

Team Tactics

When you’re building a Sitecore team, be really clear on who you need to bring to the party. In the last article we talked about making sure you get everyone involved in the conversation from the start - if you’re not involving your content editor in the early conversations, you’re setting yourself up for slow progress.

Resources are tight, but we need to ensure the most effective use of a team delivering the best value to a project or client. It's a common scenario that new features are hardly touched by the masses. Don’t fall into that trap and ensure you can leverage them, and harness the power Sitecore has to offer!

Make sure that your creatives are speaking with the digital strategists. It is so that important those who conceptualise, theorise or design (pages, apps or multi-modal journeys) understand the basics of how pages come together (shared components) and more importantly how we can optimise and personalise using Sitecore.

Take Advantage

Learn how to take advantage of the new features of Sitecore. For the technical practitioners, developers, designers, strategists and content authors, keeping your skills current is vital. Keeping up to date will ensure you’re getting the most out of the platform and delivering the best value for your clients. Keep ahead of the game and know how you can become more useful to the team.

There are a few ways that you can make sure you’re keeping relevant. The easiest way is to pair with fellow Sitecore colleagues / peers. Back-end developers working with Technical architects or Dev-ops; Strategists working with Content editors and so on.

SXA, Headless CMS, Stylelabs DAM, Sitecore Host, Universal Tracker, and Horizon bring amazing value to the table, but fundamentally require a different skill set from 10 or even 5 just years ago. Time invested gaining knowledge in these tools collectively as a team, is time well spent.

Think ahead

This is so simple but so often overlooked because of time constraints (product launch by X or budgets run out in March) we often build and launch a site to what’s commonly referred to as a minimum viable product (MVP). But MVP isn't just what we visibly see, a site, an app, a campaign. MVP is also the technology. You need to make sure that what we have technically is scalable for when MVP evolves and iterates. For that to happen all the pieces (aka tools/ technologies) have to not only be in place, but in some way be used. So for example let’s take personalisation and optimisation. You don’t need to be testing on day 1 of launch, but you should have xDB switched on (tracking analytics amongst other things) and you should outline some overarching profiles / segments, even just to track and understand users. When it comes round to testing, you are half way there technically, but more importantly you have rich data to leverage and make an informed tests hypothesis.

Know your objectives

You could also take this back to why are we launching this new product / service (or why do we have this product / service)? Think of the genuine business objectives at play. Knowing this will guide you to picking the right combination of features in Sitecore. For example if your objective is global growth, and thus you are planning on having regional or international variants of your website, then the use of SXA would be very advantageous. If your focus is on maintaining marketing content at scale, then in the future managing content using the Stylelabs DAM would be advantageous.

However experienced you are with Sitecore, whether you are a first time ‘buyer’ or you’re a few years into a journey, taking heed of the simple advice above will make sure that you are firmly on your way to getting the most out of the platform. You have a really powerful tool at your fingertips and with the support of Sitecore and / or your implementation partner, you should now have the tricks up your sleeve to make sure you’re reaching the potential of the platform and surpassing your business objectives.

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