Who are you building this site for

…An important question that isn’t asked often enough. Although it is something most CMS developers would say they know, I think it is worth repeating. When a Sitecore solution is developed, it needs to be done with 2 user groups in mind: The Content Editor / Manager and the End User. Building a website that works well with static content is relatively simple. Not only is it easier, but it is also what most people seem to stress. Testing and QAing seems to focus on the front end results. The client and project managers usually put their attention on how well the website looks and acts. Often times if the UX of the website is satisfactory it is considered “good enough.” Sure the launch goes well and at first most everyone involved is happy. It isn’t until weeks or maybe even months later that the headaches can start. A few things I like to keep in mind when building out a Sitecore solution. As you start on a new solution, you are creating new Sublayouts left and right. Not only is it important to organize these in a logical order based on your content, it’s also important to fill out all of the information associated with the Sublayout – at the very least, this includes: Datasource Location, Datasource Template, Placeholder, and Thumbnail. I have found that in addition to these fields, this is also a good time to populate the information for the Placeholder settings – Giving the user a rich experience in the Page Editor view tends to make them happy. I just mentioned “organize these in a logical order based on your content” this is important throughout the site. Although it changes on a site by site basis, a good place to start is by organizing data based on the page (again this doesn’t always make the most sense, but is a good place to start). I bring this up again with the Media Library in mind. I have seen several solutions with a sloppy Media Library where it is impossible to find content – in many cases you’ll see content editors uploading duplicate pictures because that’s easier than looking through a mess of images to find the one they want. If a standard is not setup before launch, using and reorganizing the Media Library will be a nightmare. I lied. There is a 3rd group to keep in mind when building out a Sitecore solution – developers. Setting up a logical content tree structure and creating vanilla Sublayouts and templates that can be reused in throughout the site will make it much much easier to add enhancements and troubleshoot bugs going forward. Most people who interact with the site will have no idea whether this is done or not but your colleges and even you (6 months later) will be happy you put the extra effort in up front to make life easier down the road. Of course there is a lot more that goes in to a Sitecore solution and many other examples that can be listed – But so long as you look at your solution from the perspective of both the Content Editor and the End User, you are on your way to delivering a solid solution.