Content is a central concept when you're working with Sitecore.
The premise behind Sitecore is that you’re creating the ability for users to author content and deliver it for consumption on different types of devices. But content, particularly content creation and its approval, can push project deadlines in unexpected ways.
Here are a few tips we’ve learned to speed up the process.
1. Wireframes, Templates Then Content Creation
Templates are the first step in content creation and should be created and provided to content authors before content production is initiated.
Once you have wireframes or mockups to help visualize the types of data that will appear on a page, you can use those wireframes to create the necessary pages in Sitecore.
Your templates contain all the fields needed that will hold your content, which includes titles, summaries, call to actions, various types of meta data and imagery.
Once your templates are in place, you have a clear structure for your content.
2. Content Creation Shouldn't Happen In Sitecore
One thing to keep in mind is that content creation shouldn’t happen in Sitecore.
The people creating content are often stakeholders who are unfamiliar with Sitecore, which creates a barrier to entry. This is something you want to avoid at all costs as it negatively impacts usability and slows down the content creation process unnecessarily.
Additionally, the authoring experience within your Sitecore project may be under development, or it may be in flux based on changing business requirements. This is why content creation should be decoupled from the CMS.
Even this post you're reading, it was created entirely outside of Sitecore. When it was finalized, We just created an item in Sitecore and quickly filled in the fields.
When content creation is considered a distinct process, only influenced by the wireframes and templates, both Sitecore project development and content creation can occur simultaneously without one holding up the other.
Most importantly, it enables content authors to focus on their area of expertise without the need to learn the Sitecore system and deal with technical delays.
3. Leverage Existing Tools For Writing
After creating templates, you’re armed, for the most part, with the fields required by each item in Sitecore. You can then reproduce templates as simple documents in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Google Docs.
Writing tools such as Google Docs and Microsoft Word and Excel are ubiquitous; they’re easy to pick-up, and they provide other tools that can aid content production, such as grammar and spelling tools.
This allows for content creation to be an accessible, widely distributed activity across an organization, enabling input from internal team members and external stakeholders without requiring additional training or onboarding activities. This streamlines collaboration and adds democracy to the content creation process.
4. Keep The Design In Mind
Inevitably, all content created for your Sitecore projects must fit the design.
The design of your Sitecore project frames the content, so it’s important to keep content within design boundaries.
Too much content, or not enough, may compromise the fidelity of the design. For instance, content that’s exceedingly long but intended to fit in a small container within a page template can skew the design and create page layout issues, which will ultimately impact the user experience.
Including wireframes and comps provides content creators with a point of reference, which then provides a clear picture of the concept and design. Content created naturally, then, fits within the design framework and works collaboratively with the overall design of the project, as a compliment rather than a competing element.
5. Plan For Content Entry As A Distinct Task
Once content has been created in documents and templates outside of Sitecore, mapping Word and Excel templates to Sitecore allows for a distributed effort to author content into Sitecore.
Basically, it becomes a mass data entry task. A focused effort that that must be accounted for in the project plan.
Divy up the content entry along the lines of the information architecture, then proceed to divide and conquer.
Because data is templated you may be tempted to automate or script the content entry process. Don't be fooled. You will still need to manually verify all content that you've imported. Even if the content is finalized, we need to verify that it's length, special characters or HTML markup did not compromise the integrity of the design.
Things to Remember
When it comes to content creation for a Sitecore project, think outside of the box. Templates exist to guide your content, and they’re beneficial for streamlining compliance with required content fields for content creators.
Content creation is a vital component of the overall Sitecore project process. However, it’s a component of the whole that can take place largely outside of Sitecore itself. This avoids overlapping workflows between designers, developers, and content creators, which can cause project delays and lead to inadvertent complications.
Creating the content and entering the content into Sitecore are two separate tasks. Treating them as such allows you to streamline the process of creating content and enlist external content creators, such as outside stakeholders, who may not be familiar with Sitecore.
Finally, keep the wireframes and mockups in mind. Content, while created outside of Sitecore, must fit within its frame when it’s eventually entered into Sitecore. Using wireframes, mockups, and templates to guide the content creation process allows for content production to take place entirely outside of the Sitecore framework. This means content creators and Sitecore developers can work on the same project simultaneously without interrupting overall project progress. The end result is a streamlined system that keeps your projects moving forward seamlessly.
Having a clear content creation plan in mind from the start and effectively separating the process from Sitecore will ensure smooth Sitecore project implementation. Following these guidelines will keep your projects on-track and on-time.
This article was authored using Markdown for Sitecore.