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A robust multi-environment build

Produce content faster in Sitecore

  • 20 April 2020 * By Steven Shaw
  • Connect Martech Modernisation

During the current crisis there’s a need to create content quickly. But, as in normal times, finding a balance between flexibility, creativity and speed is a challenge. For users of the Sitecore platform it’s possible to find that balance and generate content that isn’t just timely but also… good.

Essentially, there are two ways of producing content: using page templates or components. The first method is fast but fairly basic. The second method is slower but offers you the ability to be more creative.

A combination of both is what is required right now.

The fast approach: page templates

Page templates contain a collection of specific fields for your content that are often grouped into relevant sections. When you add the new page to your site, you don't need to build lots of components. You just fill in the appropriate fields with your content and it’s then displayed in a set way.

Page templates are often perceived as restrictive and too ‘samey’. It's normally the term ‘template’ that makes people think there’s no creative freedom within them.

Simplicity

But the benefit of page templates is that they are quick to populate with only one item that needs to be considered. Then you publish and it's all done.

We’ve encountered a strong belief with developers that the less templates you have for a platform the better. Whilst keeping the number of templates small makes support life easier, it doesn’t always meet the needs of the content authors or marketers.

The creative approach: Components

Components are typically a self-contained representation of some content. Depending on the design of your website, content pages can be made up of multiple components to bring the whole page together.

One of the major benefits of using a component in Sitecore is the ability to use personalisation and testing features on each one. This allows you to evolve the site and get the best combination of elements to achieve your digital goals. However, it’s very unlikely that you will use those features across every component in a page.

Another benefit is the ability to have rendering options. For example, determining the colour scheme of the component or layout of the content. You can use the same component on a different page but displayed completely differently.

Flexible but lengthy

Pages made up entirely of components can offer unlimited flexibility. Authors can decide exactly what components best represent their message and put them in any combination. The drawback is that they take time to build. If you have a page made up of 10 components, you need to create them all first before bringing your page together. This can be a big overhead and do you really have the time at the moment?

At a time when speed matters, a hybrid approach to Sitecore content production can also ensure the quality of your content doesn’t suffer. This is where Sitecore really shines and becomes an even more effective CMS.

Steve Shaw - Technical Director, Kin + Carta Connect

The best of both worlds

Taking all this into account, we reckon ‘best of both worlds’ is the right approach in a time like this. Using a hybrid approach where the page templates are made up of both in-page fields and placeholders mixed between them. This delivers flexibility and pace at the same time.

Content for a crisis (and beyond)

Now is a great time to review your current site templates and see if you could improve things by adding in a new template or two.

Working in close collaboration with the marketing team and getting regular feedback cycles can really help to improve your platform, even when things get back to normal. It delivers business efficiencies and more importantly helps reduce the frustration of the authors who need to get content out there.

If you’re looking for fast (and good) content then let’s have a chat

See how Sitecore can work to your advantage.