It’s a safe assumption to say that any organization looking to revamp its website is going to have some level of hesitancy in adopting a new technology platform to run that website. Even though Sitecore is seen as both a leader and a visionary in the Web Content Management (WCM) sector per the November 2011 Gartner Magic Quadrant, this hesitancy still applies even to organizations that choose to adopt Sitecore as their new technology. There are multiple scenarios where an organization may choose to go with Sitecore as their WCM system for a website. Below I’ll detail some of those scenarios, and how a good integration partner like Perficient can help reduce the hesitancy and fears around adopting a new technology by providing a successful implementation.
One scenario is an organization that’s building a website for the first time, which is a very similar scenario to an organization that has decided to revamp the entire look, feel and content of its existing website. In these cases, it most likely makes sense to develop all the core pieces of the site before launch. While speed to market is certainly important with Websites, revealing a half-complete site can be more damaging than holding off for another month or two in order to launch a fully fleshed-out site. This doesn’t mean that an organization should or has to wait until all the bells and whistles of its site are developed to launch however. The Sitecore Competency Center within Perficient can help organizations with the above scenarios determine exactly what pieces of content should be considered for an initial launch, and which pieces can be developed after launch. An approach like this does require experienced Sitecore architects, so that the bells and whistles portion is truly an addition to the strong Sitecore foundation the core components of the site were built on and does not require any redesign of the underlying architecture.
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Other organizations may find themselves in a scenario where they do not want a redesign of their website, but still want to implement Sitecore to have more control over managing the content of their site and / or reduce maintenance costs for the site. Organizations who want to leverage the marketing analytics capabilities of Sitecore’s Digital Marketing Suite (DMS) for their existing site may also fall into this scenario. Many times, this scenario can be more daunting than the earlier one. In our first scenario, most organizations are going to realize that they are embarking on a significant undertaking, and will need not just a process, a plan and a partner to implement both, but also a chunk of time in which the implementation will take place. In this new scenario, it’s not as easy to justify a process that could take months and not change the overall public facing portion of the website. In these cases, it’s important to understand that it is possible to run a “hybrid” website – where part of the site is still running on legacy code, and other parts are running on top of Sitecore. Because this is a possibility, it means organizations in this situation are able to migrate their existing site into Sitecore piece by piece, rather than in facing an “all or nothing” situation. Of course, much like the first situation, if you’re going to take this approach, the people implementing the Sitecore architecture for the new site have to know the long term vision and accommodate for it, in order to avoid making a mess of things.
The first Sitecore implementation performed by the Perficient Sitecore Competency Center was a situation exactly like this. We were working with a client that had a very extensive website built in ASP.NET that was costing them a lot of maintenance dollars because all content work had to be done by external developers. Their site had a custom-made admin interface that was supposed to allow them to manage content, but unfortunately it just wasn’t powerful enough to handle everything. Couple that with the fact that any time new functionality was added to the site, the admin interface needed to be updated by developers or the new functionality became a black box. You can see how costs could escalate quickly. The client decided that they wanted to use Sitecore as their WCM system to reduce this cost. They knew that their site was large enough that to be 100% powered by Sitecore would take at least a year, and they didn’t want to wait that long to gain the benefits of having a fully fledged WCM product. So, we took a single chunk of their site and put that into Sitecore first, while merging the two code bases into 1 single IIS site, so that both sets would be on the same domain. SEO considerations were a high priority for this particular client, but we were able to merge the two code bases without needing to adjust any current URL’s. Once we were done with the initial merge of the legacy code with the Sitecore code, we were free to pick additional sections of the site and migrate them into Sitecore one at a time. This approach allowed the client to not only leverage the capabilities of Sitecore quicker, but also allowed their content managers to truly become comfortable with their new tool without overwhelming them with the amount of content they needed to manage.
When considering a move to Sitecore, it’s always important to remember that it doesn’t have to be an “All or Nothing” situation. The right partner can help reduce the risks of implementing Sitecore in any number of different ways, including helping organizations take a phased approach to moving into Sitecore.