In response to a previous blog post on the 6 Sitecore video channels to follow in 2019, I was asked: “What other training resources are available for brand new Sitecore content authors?”. Unfortunately, my answer right now is “Not many.” However, in this post, I’ll try to give you the good and bad on what content author focused Sitecore resources are currently out there. I also want to open it up to the community to submit their suggestions. I will add your input as updates to this post (so remember to bookmark it).
So here’s the problem…
Content needs for your company are different than other companies, and your instance of Sitecore will likely have unique renderings and content needs. An extensive selection of resources are available for Sitecore developers, but content authors don’t get a lot to pick from because every Sitecore solution is custom built and different. Your “News Article Component” may have different fields or get added to a page layout in a different way.
You won’t find author training on the ins and outs of your specific Sitecore instance from anyone (outside of whoever built it for you) so that just leaves these fundamentals I’ve found to be the best training resources for new Sitecore Content authors.
Official Sitecore Training
Official Sitecore training for Marketers and Business Users has two offerings, which come in two different flavors: Classroom Training and eLearning. The formats are polar opposites, in that the benefits found in one format are the drawback of the other.
Designing, building, and implementing top-notch experiences not only requires a great deal of planning, strategy, and time – it also requires the right digital experience platform (DXP) and the right development approach for your business needs.
Sitecore’s Instructor-Led Training is given in an in-person Classroom setting or Online/remote in a virtual classroom using video conferencing. A living, breathing person is there to answer questions and help if you get stuck, and students will get actual hands-on experience inside of Sitecore. The downsides? The logistics and scheduling may not line-up with when your team needs (or is available for) the training, and some true “tech beginners” may still struggle with the pace. Also, when the class is over… it’s over; you won’t have access to the learning environment to continue to practice on the platform or check out other features not covered in class.
Sitecore’s eLearning offering is available 24/7/365 through an online portal. It’s self-directed and students can stop, start and even restart the course at their own pace, as many times as they like within four months of activating their seat. The downsides here? You’re learning in a simulated Sitecore environment where you’re only able to do the exercises as shown (no exploring or experimenting), and if you have a question or get stuck you’re stuck.
Sitecore has two courses for Business Users and Marketers. “Sitecore Web Experience Management (9.1)” is a 101-level course that covers the basics of content authoring in both the Content Editor and Experience Editor, working with assets in the Media Library, publishing with a basic workflow, and briefly touches on using rules-based personalization. The second course, “Sitecore Context Marketing Fundamentals (9.0)”, picks up where the other course leaves off, going deeper into personalizing content for testing and optimization, and using Experience Analytics to measure content performance and outcomes.
Official Sitecore Documentation
Sitecore’s official documentation website has come a very long way from what it used to be. Sitecore wrangled their content about different versions and features, from across different websites, into one place. They have even created a section specifically for Marketing and Business Users, that covers more topics and marketing features than both official training courses combined. The site also features videos from the Master Sitecore YouTube Channel to review Marketing Automation features, and explain concepts behind some of their features.
Practical Sitecore 8 Configuration and Strategy: A User Guide for Sitecore’s Content and Marketing Capabilities
Even though this book by Phil Wicklund is four years old and a full version behind, it has non-technical overviews of Sitecore’s content management and marketing features that are still in use today. The chapters on Experience Personalization and Marketing Campaigns contain all you need to know to get started with Personas, Profiles and Pattern cards, and the steps needed to create your first campaign. You will not find information on newer features introduced in 9.x like Sitecore Marketing Automation, and you can skip the chapter on Web Forms for Marketers as that’s been replaced with Sitecore Experience Forms. The book is written in a way that will get your content authoring team up to speed on key concepts of Sitecore and its capabilities and provides best practices and strategies to help them use the platform better.
What’s working for you?
These are the best training resources for Content Authors I have come across in all my years working with the Sitecore platform, and so I’ll turn it over to you and ask “What’s working for you?” Is there a training resource you’ve used that I’ve missed? Share it in the comments below and I will review it for inclusion in this (or future) posts.