Creating websites with Sitecore branch templates part one

Over the past few months I’ve been part of a team developing solutions of real benefit to every digital focused business using Sitecore. For example, how to rapidly create websites with minimal effort which allow cross site shared components with a predefined information architecture, user experience and the option of changing the theme without extra cost.

Our customers want to be able to create micro sites out of their existing widgets, with the ability to change brand and campaign themes. This led us to investigate the hidden potential of Sitecore’s Branch Templates.

Sitecore branch templates allow us to easily create feature-rich websites and achieve quick delivery to our customers.

We have rolled out this feature in several recent customer projects and it’s been received very positively.

An example of a how we used this approach for a customer can be seen in the image below.

Creating_Sites_w_SC_Branch_Templates 1

Of course, as with any development of this type, there are advantages and disadvantages. I’ll cover these in more detail below.

Advantages

By creating the branch template and modifying the main Sitecore content node the user can quickly create a complete website structure with a single click. They can add and remove content as they see fit and theme the website to their desired colour palette.

All the widgets within the Sitecore templates folder have been built in a way which allows them to be reused and re-themed without the need to modify the HTML.

Objects within Sitecore take full advantage of Sitecore query strings to fully optimise the page editor so that content for site-specific widgets will only appear for that given website.

Creating_Sites_w_SC_Branch_Templates_2.PNG

Disadvantages

Depending on the size of the branch the time it takes to create the microsite in Sitecore changes; the current website as seen in the “Microsite root object” takes around 15 to 20 seconds to appear in the Sitecore content tree.

The microsite would need to have a predefined UI pattern, which limits the user in some aspects. Additional changes to the UI patterns would mean additional work, leading the customer to decide whether or not to include this new template in all other microsites.

Conclusion

So what does this mean to our customers?

Here at Kagool we have utilised our Sitecore skills and knowledge to allow our customers to quickly build websites. This allows them to focus their attention on clearly defined website goals and user experience, while we educate them on our approach to Sitecore implementation.

I hope you enjoyed my first blog post. I’ll be back with a part two soon, digging deeper in to thought patterns around widget creation and how we theme the websites.

Reference: Creating Sitecore websites with one click

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