What is Sitecore and how can it help you?
Marketing departments everywhere are ablaze with talk of Sitecore, the amazing new ‘experience platform’ that will revolutionise their web presence. But what is it and how can you make it work for your organisation?
Sitecore refers to itself as an ‘experience platform’. In essence, this means it’s a very advanced content management system (CMS) capable of powering not only your web content but also your:
- Social integration
- Testing platform
- Web analytics, and more…
The platform is built in ASP .NET so any organisation already running Windows servers should have no difficulty making the switch. However, if you’re tied to an Apache configuration then you’ll require some additional investment in back-end tech.
It’s clearly designed to appeal to corporate users as the user interface is heavily based on Windows (they stole it from Sitecore, apparently) with which most large organisations are likely to have familiarity. While significantly more complex to use than something like Drupal, once fully understood the level of functionality offered by the platform is staggering.
Sitecore as a CMS
For us, Sitecore is like Lego. It’s modular so you can create anything you like then easily reuse it across pages and move it within a template. Want to move your newsletter module higher up the page? No problem – simply drag it into place within your template. There’s no need to create duplicates of content areas anywhere, even across different sites, making everything simple to maintain and fast to load.
This is where Sitecore really comes into its own. The platform is able to build audience segments and map users to these based around patterns of use. Some of these patterns include:
- On-site behaviour
- Geographical location
- Sales history
- Device they accessed your site on
This allows you to tailor page content and messaging to user profiles and boost site conversion by developing more sophisticated user flows.
The ability to tailor content in this way dovetails beautifully with well-considered UX design as this functionality can provide much richer experiences for your audiences. For this reason it’s paramount to appoint a UX agency that has experience working with Sitecore and understands how to structure the design process to maximise impact.
Testing and web analytics
Another area in which Sitecore performs well is its ability to allow web editors to run and maintain A/B and split tests. No longer will you have to contact your web agency to ask them to run a test on the site – everything, including the reporting, can be managed from a simple interface within the platform. This ability to test rapidly and frequently will help to improve site conversion while simultaneously cutting agency development costs.
The platform also offers a wealth of insight via a selection of customisable reports and dashboards in the back end.
Not only can you personalise content on-site but Sitecore will integrate with most large CRM’s to capture all details against sales leads. Your customer experience is no longer limited to just a website but can be extended across a customer’s whole journey with your organisation.
Everything, including the kitchen sink
Sitecore development agencies will tell you that they can do anything that you want and – to an extent – this is true. Sitecore is fully customisable to meet any requirement, both on the front and back end. With over 1,300 classes and 5,000 methods plus a rich, extensive developer framework; pretty much anything you require can be achieved.
Remember, user experience design is not just confined to the customer facing areas of the site but can also be applied to admin areas making it easy for editors to add content quickly and easily.
Developing a Sitecore project
There is a learning process associated with the ‘experience platform’ so while previous experience working with the technology is crucial, client involvement is also heavily required. Webcredible have worked extensively with Sitecore over the years and for us, the real interest is how the platform changes what is possible in customer experience design. It allows us to provide a richer more personal experience not only on the website but throughout the whole customer lifecycle.
While we can provide substantial expertise on the capabilities of Sitecore we would advise you start slowly and get to know the platform, developing usage in-line with your requirements. If you want to learn more about user-centred design and Sitecore, get in touch.