Sathish Balakrishnan Author's Perspective
3 Minute read

Best Practices for Sitecore Implementation

Sitecore Implementation Best Practices

Sitecore is one of the most powerful and most flexible enterprise content management systems available for marketers today! It offers reduced IT expenditure, a streamlined content life-cycle as well as gives content control to the subject matter expert.

Here’s a low down on the best practices for Sitecore Implementation:

Regarding Data Templates

  • Naming Conventions

Data templates and fields are generally named in a certain way, making it easy for business users and content authors to identify and understand them in a consistent manner. Ideally, base templates must begin with ‘_content’, and naming conventions must be followed for each template, basis the need.

  • Folder Structure

Apart from the above-mentioned point, it is also important to move base templates into a separate folder to clearly identify what is used directly by content items, and what is used for inheritance purposes!

In this case, the Helix principles must be adopted. Helix provides a set of guidelines for your Sitecore projects, and improves the efficiency of your projects, reduce costs and time to market. As more and more people and organizations adopt the Helix conventions and principles, it is soon to become a Sitecore standard.

  • Template Inheritance

It is significant to review existing inheritance models and create new templates to use as base template, wherever it’s appropriate. This also helps in avoiding cyclic template inheritance.

  • Standard Values

Templates must feature Standard Values, wherever it’s necessary. For instance, the items must be governed by workflow processes or represent a front-end page with presentation details! It is recommended to set the presentation details on the standard values of data templates.

  • Insert options

There are some items that would benefit from setting ‘Insert Options’ on their templates’ standard values.

  • Use Tokens

Tokens such as $name reduce the amount of text that a content author is required to enter.

Here’s a list of available Sitecore tokens:   

1. $name: Is replaced with the name of the created item

2. $date: Is replaced with the current date    

3. $time: Is replaced with the current time   

Content Tree Items Best Practices:

  • Content Structure

Even though every website has a content tree structure of its own, having a structure that closely mimics that of the website, allows for navigation controls and security rules to be easily created, and simplifies the task of finding items. As standard practice, we would not recommend having more than 100 items under any item node.

  • Limit the number of versions:

Items should not exceed more than 10 versions.

  • Previewing new items

Previewing newly-created content with no data in fields, should not cause any server errors.

  • Bucketing

Avoid bucketing if the content tree has <100 items. Bucket is an item that stores “hidden” content. As Items are indexed, performance is drastically improved, while loading the site and rendering the content tree.

Presentation Layer Best Practices:

  • Limit the number of layouts

    Sitecore recommends that there is one layout per website, per device
  • Static binding

    Components that are always the same across the site, such as the header and footer, have to be statically bound to the layouts and sub layouts.

  • Dynamic binding

    Consider modifying components and layouts to include dynamic placeholders. so that components can be added to the page by content authors. This will allow the solution to be more extensible to use new features, including personalization in DMS.
  • Placeholder Settings

    Once Experience editor is in full use, review the placeholder settings. Consider adding new placeholder settings and limit the components for each placeholder.
Sitecore CMS for Multi-site implementation

Experience Editor

First of all, check whether the Experience Editor is enabled and configured. Next, investigate why most components are not compatible with the Experience Editor, and last training for content authors is important, so that once the Experience Editor has been fully-implemented, the staff can utilize its features.

Media Assets Best Practices

Use database as the storage mechanism for media in general. Thereafter, organize the media assets in business user-friendly ways, and also optimize the image assets as much as possible.

Security Best Practices

All non-implemented membership provider methods should throw unsupported exceptions. Besides, make sure you assign security rights to roles and not users. Create the roles in the Sitecore Domain, instead of specific domain.

Caching Best Practices

Data Caching increases performance by storing copies of data that is accessed frequently from external systems, in a high performance sub-system. To check the data cache, you can load the hostname/sitecore/admin/cache.aspx on the CM instance. Also, remember the cache size should be between 70-80%.

Workflow Best Practices:

First of all, check if the workflow is enabled, and then consider configuring workflow on all content items. This will allow for content to be reviewed, before being published live. Besides, check if the workflow has appropriate security - create appropriate roles for content authors and approvers and assign them access to correct workflow states. Next, minimize the number of states using Email notifications.

Solution Review Best Practices

Review code and replace any direct SQL calls with Sitecore API calls. That’s not all - you must remove the commented out Code. This primarily means a code that’s no longer required, should be removed from the solution.

Besides, check for hard coding and make sure to use Helix principles!

Other Best Practices:

Set up continuous integration environment process flow for the project, in order to have scripted compilation, coding style checks, run through set of unit tests, as well as to generate environment specific configurations, and deploy to respective environments.

Remember to keep your Sitecore projects, outside of the Sitecore installation folder. Next, try and use Sitecore Rocks plug-in in Visual studio for development, and Sitecore Habitat approach for modular development. You must also follow Sitecore Helix principles, which is the underlying specification for the Habitat implementation.

If you have Sitecore implemented as your CMS, get a no obligation free audit of your website from our Certified Sitecore Experts & MVPs to recognize its true potential.

Sathish Balakrishnan VP-Technology and Delivery

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