User-centred design and Sitecore

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

  • E-marketing
  • E-commerce
  • Blogs
  • 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.

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

Andy Ingle

Senior Experience Consultant @ Webcredible

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.

Audience segmentation

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.

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