13 Jan 2016 - Digital Strategy // By Productive Edge Team

Front-End Development for Sitecore

When developing HTML for a site that will be implemented in Sitecore's cutting-edge CMS, it's vital to develop code with extensibility, personalization and responsiveness in mind. This will facilitate the creation of a site that enables both developers and marketers to work effectively.

Developing code that is extensible and conducive to personalization is rooted in modularity. Sitecore sites should be designed, both from a front-end perspective as well as a creative perspective, on the basis of common components, or modules, that are bound together to create unique looking pages displaying a diverse range of content. This means the site should be composed of sections that are repeated throughout. This allows for simplicity in the development process, being able to reuse the same piece of code in each instance of a section. However, this doesn’t mean that every instance of a section should look exactly the same. The code should be parameterized such that it allows marketers the flexibility to customize each instance of a section with a unique look and feel.

With this in mind, the front-end team should develop modular code that is both reusable and customizable. The structure of each section should be established by common dimensions and functionality. However, the code should allow for the addition or removal of a text area, relative flexibility around the length of text and replacement of imagery. Developing code in this way gives marketers optimal control over content adjustments and style changes while not bogging down developers with the task of creating new code for minor artistic variations of an existing section.

Modularizing code for Sitecore systems offers a unique advantage to businesses by allowing them to leverage the diverse functionality of Sitecore’s personalization features. Sitecore’s advanced data gathering capabilities give marketers detailed insights into users’ experience.

Leveraging customizable modules, marketers can use this insight to create personalized content for different user personas with ease. As they gain new insights, marketers can make changes to existing pages, or create entirely new pages all without the help of a development team.

As they code each module of the site, it’s also imperative for front-end developers to ensure responsiveness, creating a user experience that is consistent across all platforms. Coding with this in mind requires the front end developers to confer with marketers and UX designers to determine the best way to present content across different devices. Based on this feedback, the front-end team can create code for each module that appropriately presents the content of each section to the intended user on any device. Doing this on a “module by module” basis creates solid reusable code and facilitates the development of a site that is fully responsive.

Containers for each widget should be coded to react appropriately to different screen areas. Sometimes this requires front-end developers and designers to create different layouts for certain modules depending on the screen size. For example, sections of a site that have multiple blocks with imagery and content laid out side-by-side would require a different layout on a mobile device. It would be impossible to create a consistent user experience by simply shrinking these containers for mobile view - the text and images would be so small that it would be impossible to read. Instead, the team might design a version for mobile that aligns the blocks vertically, scaled to fit the width of the screen size, or even implement a slider with a pagination allowing users to navigate through the blocks.

When approaching a Sitecore implementation, it’s important to have a team of front-end developers and designers who understand how to create a site that will enable your business to effectively leverage all the benefits this advanced CMS has to offer. They should understand the vision of a site built on reusable, customizable and extensible components that gives optimal control over styling and content changes to the marketing team. When designed and coded correctly, your development team can enable your business to reap the maximum benefit from your Sitecore system.

Front-End Development for Sitecore