Sitecore Enhancing Content Author Experience - Part 1 (Templates)

Enhancing Content Author Experience - Template level

This is the first post as part of Sitecore Enhancing Content Author Experience series.

As a Sitecore developer, I always feel we have two primary users of our work; One is a website visitor, and second one is Content authors. Most of the time, we tend to give more importance to our site visitor, as they make the business happen, but we need to give equal importance to Content authors, to improve their overall experience of managing content.

In this three post series, let’s explore some of the tips to enhance content author experience,
Lets divide this Enhancing Content author experience into three levels

  1. Template
  2. Layout
  3. Content

As part of this post, let’s explore templates.

1. Template Icon

Template Icons help to visually separate semantically related content items. We can Visually provide clues to the type of item in the content tree, by choosing unique icon to each template.

Image Courtesy: https://sitecorecreative.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/sitecore-icon-selector/

As a content author, how do you feel, when you see the left side and right side content trees in above screen shot. Definitely left side tree, is much more helpful, because by looking at icons, we can understand item type.

Icons can be set at template level, or item level. Two ways we can set icons, one is by directly clicking on the template icon, another one is from configure tab.

2. Field Type

Selecting appropriate field type is key for managing the content, as field type effects, what control content author use to modify that field content. Sitecore provides various in-built field types, and if needed we can also create custom field types. Check out more about field types here.

For example, let’s take the case of Multilist or Multilist with search field types. Both provides a list of items, to choose, but second field type provides extra search option too, this is very much useful, when there are too many selectable items, otherwise it is difficult to scroll and select.

3. Field Source

For list field types, we can control the list of selectable items to be displayed, using field source property. Field source can be set using; Sitecore query, path, and GUID. When Treelist field type is used, and source is not set, full Sitecore tree is displayed in selectable items. Then it is very difficult for Content author, to navigate and select the appropriate item from root node.

4. Field Help Message

Help message gives extra information to Content Authors about particular field. Sitecore provides the ability to add help information to fields in three ways – using short description, long description, and help link. These three fields are part of the standard fields.
Short description is displayed beside the field title, Long description is visible on field title mouse hover, Help link can be navigated, by clicking on field title.

5. Field Sorting

For each page, or component, there may be lot of content fields to manage. But among all the fields, there may be few fields which gets changed very frequently. But if these fields are at bottom of the field list, every time content author has to scroll, to make any updates. It is better to place most frequently modified fields on top, using Sort order field, which is part of the standard fields. By default, Sitecore will set sort order to 100 points.

6. Folder Templates - Insert Options

Folder templates are used for the purpose of organizing a collection of items. (ex: Rendering folder, Template Folder). The insert options configuration provides that the templates relevant to the folder are immediately available.
The default folder template for content items is /sitecore/templates/Common/Folder.
To create a custom folder template, we need to inherit from the default folder template, and then configure with custom insert options.

7. Parameter Templates

There is a difference between What & How to content. What content means is the actual content on site, whereas How to content means, which controls behavior of the content, example, Search page size, CSS class, number of carousel items.
Most of the time, we tend to mix How to content fields with What content fields, but it is very important to don’t mix both, to make sure content looks neat and clean.
On component level, we can manage “How to” content using key value pair section. But Content Authors may find difficult to remember, & enter exact key names. To avoid this we can use parameter templates.

Managing How to content becomes more easier using parameter templates. We can create parameter templates, like any other templates, but these templates should inherit from /sitecore/templates/System/Layout/Rendering Parameters/Standard Rendering Parameters

Once parameter template is created, it can be added to component using Parameters Template on the rendering.

Only one parameter template is allowed on one component, that is the reason inheritance is very important for the parameter templates.

Once parameter template is added to component, Content can be modified from Control Properties which can be accessed using Page Item Presentation details.

Thank you for reading, in next post, will explore the tips from layout level.

Happy Learning :)

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