In this episode of the Sitecore Water Cooler podcast, hosted by Maggie Burke, the focus is on website redesigns and the pivotal decisions organizations face during this process. With the advent of composable ecosystems, organizations must choose between staying with their current infrastructure or migrating to new offerings like Sitecore's XM Cloud.
The episode highlights a recent successful implementation for an Americaneagle.com healthcare client and aims to delve into the planning and considerations necessary for a smooth XM Cloud implementation. Guest speakers include two Americaneagle.com experts who worked closely on the project: Senior Sitecore Solutions Architect Jared Arnofsky and Ellen Kirsh, Project Manager.
Healthcare Client’s Decision to Implement Sitecore XM Cloud
The client in focus has a longstanding history with Sitecore, having been with them for a significant duration. The project's genesis involved a transition towards Sitecore 10, with XM Cloud entering the discussion later. A crucial driver for this transition was the client's desire for autonomy in creating and deploying websites. Previously reliant on external parties for site management and SSL certificate processes, XM Cloud offered the client the independence to swiftly create, edit, and manage their sites in-house. This newfound flexibility was particularly valuable for an organization with over 300 facilities under its domain, continually expanding by approximately ten facilities monthly. Such enhancements were pivotal, especially considering the client's previous use of Sitecore 7, an older version of the platform.
Discovery and Design Process for Website Redesign
The discovery and design process for the website redesign played a pivotal role in addressing the client's unique needs and challenges. Given their extensive history, the team had an advantage in understanding the client's operations. They initiated the process with a thorough functional inventory, identifying elements the client favored and areas causing pain points. Notably, they transformed language pages into data items, optimizing storage usage. Furthermore, the team aimed to empower the client with the ability to create distinct layouts for internal pages, a feature previously lacking. They also provided the flexibility to extend source site layouts to specific individual sites, enhancing efficiency in managing changes across the client's extensive network of sites.
Website Redesign Phases & Considerations
The website redesign process involved meticulous design phases tailored to the client's complex requirements. To ensure brand consistency across 300+ sites while allowing for some individuality, the team implemented a versatile color scheme system, comprising primary, secondary, tertiary, and cautionary colors. This enabled seamless adaptation of color schemes, offering a unified look and feel while accommodating distinct brand identities. Moreover, the design process emphasized attention to detail, catching even minor elements like accreditation statements in the footer during iterations. The commitment to thorough planning and design not only streamlined development but also ensured a polished end result.
Key Factors for Implementing Sitecore XM Cloud
Implementing Sitecore's XM Cloud in a website redesign project necessitates careful planning and strategic thinking. Key considerations for a successful implementation include establishing strong communication between the project management and architectural teams. Understanding content migration challenges, legacy code intricacies, and accommodating stakeholder requirements are crucial. In this project, empowering content authors and managers to create and manage sites efficiently was paramount. Leveraging features like cloning, automatic SSL, and DNS setup streamlined site creation. Additionally, focusing on content quality and author empowerment facilitated smoother project execution, ensuring minimal content-related issues in the development phase.
Preparing for a Sitecore XM Cloud Migration
In this particular Sitecore XM Cloud project, effective teamwork and collaboration were pivotal for success. The lead architect, Jared, highlighted the importance of viewing the client's technical teams as integral members of the project, fostering a collaborative spirit. This approach ensured efficient communication and mutual respect, resulting in smooth data imports and API integrations. Sitecore's inclusion of partner technical advisors further facilitated collaboration, enabling prompt solutions and insights. The project demonstrated how disparate teams, including client teams and external advisors, can unite under a shared goal, ensuring a cohesive approach towards project success and timely issue resolution.
Migrating to Sitecore XM Cloud
The migration of over 300 sites to Sitecore XM Cloud was a complex and challenging undertaking in the project. Jared acknowledged that content migration often proves more intricate than building the sites themselves. To tackle this colossal task, a well-thought-out strategy was essential. Leveraging Sitecore's tools and PowerShell scripts, the team streamlined the migration process. Their approach involved connecting developer environments to the old database and employing PowerShell scripts and Sitecore tools for data migration. They meticulously planned the execution, emphasizing the importance of first focusing on code quality in lower environments and then fine-tuning content in the production phase.
Notable XM Cloud Features
The Sitecore XM Cloud project boasts several noteworthy features that elevate the website's performance and user experience. A standout capability is the empowerment of content authors to independently create and customize websites. Leveraging a base website with token-driven content replacement and diverse default brands, authors can modify themes, content, and components on-the-fly, facilitating agility and personalization. Additionally, the implementation incorporates robust search functionality for each site, ensuring immediate functionality upon creation. The project also enhances content authoring with a global content repository and a unique data item tracking system, simplifying global updates and eliminating the need to sift through all 300 sites, streamlining content management.
Integrating Sitecore Search with Sitecore XM Cloud
The integration of Sitecore Search into the XM Cloud project was executed seamlessly, enhancing content discoverability and user engagement. A key element was the creation of a sitemap index that consolidated all the individual sitemaps from the 300+ sites into a single dynamic index. This allowed Sitecore Search to search against all the data on a per-site basis while maintaining a centralized source. Each new site's URL was recorded in a designated field, facilitating facet-based search results for individual sites. This approach streamlined content indexing and retrieval, ensuring efficient and comprehensive search functionality across the entire website.
Ensuring Seamless Client Data Import Processes
The client's data import process was a crucial aspect of the project, particularly regarding healthcare provider information. While a standard provider import procedure was followed, a notable feature was the dynamic tagging of sites based on imported data. This allowed for the automatic creation of dynamic listings of providers on each site, simplifying content management. Additionally, an important decision was made to prevent manual entries or deletions, ensuring data integrity and cleanliness with each import. This approach not only streamlined the process but also future-proofed the client's data management, providing a clean slate during each import operation.
Future Roadmap to Boost Sitecore Project Success
The project's future roadmap includes several enhancements to ensure the client's website remains dynamic and competitive. Immediate plans involve improving utility scripts for streamlined content entry and enhancing logging, particularly for the physician import process. Beyond that, ongoing growth and monitoring are essential to address unforeseen scenarios and continuously stabilize and improve the site's performance. The approach is akin to nurturing a child's development, ensuring that the site evolves and adapts to changing needs and emerging opportunities.
Key Takeaways from Sitecore XM Cloud Migration Project
The Sitecore XM Cloud migration project has significantly impacted the client's website redesign success. The project involved redesigning over 300 sites, implementing a user-friendly content authoring system, and leveraging powerful features like Sitecore Search and provider imports. Collaboration with external teams and Sitecore's support further enhanced the project's efficiency. The clean and strategic data import process ensures data integrity. Looking ahead, the project's roadmap focuses on continuous improvement and adaptation to evolving needs. This project exemplifies the transformative potential of Sitecore XM Cloud in delivering robust, scalable, and future-proof web solutions.
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- Jared Arnofsky: LinkedIn
- Ellen Kirsh: LinkedIn
- Resources: Sitecore Development Partner
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About: For years, ‘water cooler talk’ has been a natural way for people in the workplace to come together and connect on common interest topics in what would otherwise be a formal environment; it boosts morale, improves culture and gets the creative juices flowing! Some of the best workplace ideas and conversations happen through face-to-face conversations around the ‘water cooler,’ so just as the name implies, The Sitecore Water cooler Podcast is a casual conversation between colleagues and peers centered around all things Sitecore. This podcast is an outlet for various Sitecore experts within the Sitecore community to have a meaningful discussion around the latest with Sitecore products, every day topics, challenges and successes associated with this top-of-line digital experience platform. Each podcast episode will range in topic, but will be geared towards quick-hitting initiatives that affect how business is done today. Whether you’re a new Sitecore user, a Sitecore MVP, or just someone who wants to learn more about Sitecore technology and capabilities, then meet us at the watercooler!