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Technology
Sitecore Development

10 Sitecore Development Mistakes to Avoid

Jul 18, 2022
Oshyn
Oshyn

Performance issues with Sitecore make it harder to retain, engage, and deliver the best digital experience to your customers. When a website performs poorly, the site visitors or potential clients get frustrated and lose trust in the brand.

An underperforming Sitecore implementation can impact sales, traffic, revenue, and search rankings. For example, 42% of site visitors and potential customers leave for an alternative website if it performs poorly, according to a 2021 report by Top Design Firms.

Most of these performance issues stem from Sitecore development issues or poor configurations. Other possible factors or common mistakes can be a lack of oversight, insufficient testing and optimization, and a lack of platform-specific experience.

With that in mind, it’s crucial to know the top Sitecore development mistakes you should avoid and how to resolve them.

10 Sitecore Development Mistakes to Watch Out for and How to Resolve Them

A 2019 study conducted by Deloitte found a tenth of a second reduction in site loading time leads to a higher conversion rate for retail (8.4%) and travel sites (10.1%). This section contains the leading Sitecore development and implementation mistakes to help you address them:

1. Failing to Put Your Business Goals and Needs First

Many businesses have failed because they lack a proper plan and focus; a Sitecore implementation or development is no different. For instance, leveraging Sitecore Experience Accelerator (XA) instead of Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) or Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) can limit your business potential for growth.

Besides, you’ll have an uphill battle to ensure you get all the functionalities you need as fast as possible. Finding the right Sitecore solution can highly impact your revenue.

Before starting your Sitecore implementation process, you should consider all current and future business goals, understanding each solution’s cost, limitations, and benefits.

2. Building Without a Sitecore Solution Architecture Document

Even with a clear plan of what you need, you can negatively impact and riddle your company or content editor performance with problems in the future if you don’t logically map out all components in a Sitecore architecture document. This document is essential for outlining and simplifying the complex relationships amongst your content.

To do that, be sure to have a Sitecore architecture document with the content organized and mapped out in Sitecore. Identify, list, and map out exactly how editors will build and maintain pages, layouts, and component essentials.

3. Not Involving The Right Stakeholders Early Enough

Who needs to be involved in the implementation process? Having the wrong set of stakeholders can lead to poor Sitecore development that fails to address any company goal. Creating solutions that meet business and user needs requires the input of major stakeholders. This is more than executives, it’s the teams that will be using the CMS day to day, including those in other countries / locales.

From the onset, you should identify and engage the right stakeholders that’ll provide the best insight and input to ensure a successful project. And if you plan to maintain the website yourself, it’s vital to have the right skillset on board, whether that’s .NET, JavaScript or HTML proficiency.

4. Not Accounting for Content Loading Times or Content Migration Time

If you think you will go live after the website is built and tested, you are probably wrong. Getting content loaded into your new site takes a significant amount of time. Typically, you can’t start loading content until two dependencies are met:

  • Your editors are trained on the new system
  • Template development is at least 80% complete and stable

After these two dependencies are met, content loading is a function of the number of people doing it and the amount of content being loaded. Besides, you’ll need to select new images and reestablish the relationships between content. During this entire content loading phase, you’ll need to continuously tweak the HTML.

5. Making Upgrades Difficult and Expensive With Custom Code

Software upgrades are an inevitable part of any software development. They bring the potential for change and advancements in keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of the tech world.

Sitecore provides a whole lot of features, but some clients or agencies might still choose to add custom code for a particular functionality that was built for a different use case.

However, the wrong components can make it difficult or impossible to upgrade your CMS or website. This is especially true when your site has a lot of custom functionality built-in.

With this in mind, you want to make sure that your Sitecore developers or agency doesn’t add too much custom code to the implementation. After all, there’s a big chance that Sitecore already provides the tools necessary to create your dream website and ensure future upgrades will be seamless.

6. Failure to Prioritize User Acceptance Testing

Any Sitecore implementation or development process can be very lengthy — sometimes taking up to 6 months. Implementing a Sitecore project without including enough QA engineers or testers in the development process can be particularly detrimental. You don’t want to wake up someday to a site with performance lags or downtime.

More than that, user acceptance testing, unit testing, and quality assurance are helpful in ensuring that bugs and missing features are not overlooked. Be sure to keep these in mind when starting your project.

7. Poor Configuration Issues

When Sitecore is improperly configured, you’ll likely experience performance issues that’ll affect customer experience and ultimately revenue. For instance, the issues may be the media storage which can impact performance, the cloud architecture affecting scalability, or the configuration files introducing security vulnerabilities.

Considering Sitecore’s robust architecture, there are hundreds of configuration issues that you may run into without the help of a Sitecore expert.

8. Inadequate Platform-Trained Experts to Manage Sitecore

Without an expert captain on a ship, there’s a high chance you’re heading for the rocks. This is also true for Sitecore, whether you’re leveraging an in-house team or an agency. You need trained experts, including Sitecore developers, editors, admins, marketers, and DevOps professionals. Sitecore is a large and complex system, so having the right skillset is crucial to success.

While a Sitecore agency can help implement and create the core features of your project, they can also provide a basis for your team to expertly manage the software solution on their own. Be sure to engage an agency that can also guide and train your staff when necessary on how to manage the site going forward.

9. Improper Use of Cache

Optimization is crucial in any software development process. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can easily sink into a pool of your own mistakes. A Sitecore developer or partner agency can forget to optimize the Sitecore website for performance, fail to cover all edge cases, or improperly use caching.

In Sitecore, there are various levels of caching that should be configured and optimized. These include the CDN for static and media assets to the HTML cache, item cache, prefetch cache, and a distributed caching system like Redis for session data and data feeds from external systems or API. They help to reduce load and increase performance.

Read more: How to Increase Application Uptime

10. Failure to Hire a Best of Breed Development Agency

Considering the capabilities and complexity of Sitecore, having the best hands on deck can greatly contribute to the success of a project; However, the opposite is true if you have an ill-equipped team on board. An expert Sitecore development agency will factor in your company’s specific requirements, audit your existing implementation, and support and train your internal team.

Are you confident that your agency can lead you to success? Do they have the required skill set? And can they offer continued support even after the project is complete? These are the essential questions to ask yourself before embarking on any Sitecore development project.

Read more: How to Select a Tech Partner

Build a Successful Sitecore Implementation With Oshyn

Any Sitecore development or implementation project is a lengthy and expensive undertaking. A lackluster development process can leave you well behind your competitors, or take time to resolve — if that’s even possible and you don’t have to implement it all over again.

The ten Sitecore development mistakes listed in this article can serve as a conversation starter with your agency or developer to ensure your project is successful.

Oshyn is a certified Sitecore development agency that has worked with many companies around the globe in developing customer-centric, reliable, and performance-driven solutions. Oshyn puts the customer needs first by listening to your stakeholders, thoroughly auditing your existing implementation, improving site performance, and boosting your potential for success.

The American Association of Critical Care Nursing (AACN) — one of the world’s leading nursing organizations — chose Oshyn to help upgrade their Sitecore platform and address the performance and scalability issues they were facing. The sheer volume of integrations and third-party platforms connected also added to the problem.

After a comprehensive Sitecore technical audit, Oshyn successfully carried out the upgrade, reduced third-party dependencies, and improved site availability from 5 downtimes a day to 99.99% uptime. Because of that, AACN is fully equipped to take advantage of all the great features of Sitecore.

Check out our case study to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most common Sitecore development mistakes?

Some of the common mistakes faced during Sitecore development include incorrect configurations, using excessive custom codes, poor caching, insufficient testing and QA, and failing to optimize for performance.

Do I need a Sitecore developer or an agency?

If what you’re trying to do is simple and less demanding, a Sitecore developer should suffice. On the other hand, a Sitecore partner agency should be considered for major Sitecore implementations, support, upgrades, and maintenance.

Why is my Sitecore website slow or down?

If you’re experiencing performance issues, it may be due to poor implementation, outdated versions, excessive custom code, and improper use of cache. If you find yourself experiencing this problem, you probably need a Sitecore agency like Oshyn to help you conduct a technical audit of your site.

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