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The why, what and how of Sitecore’s Experience Accelerator

Across the internet, on both channels of Sitecore and agencies alike, a lot of articles and blog posts focus on the vision that Sitecore has with the Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) product. However, in a lot of cases, these blog articles are filled to the brim with technical terminology and aspects relevant to the actual implementation partner. However all of them don’t focus that much on the actual Sitecore Customer such as a digital content manager. We thought it was about time they receive the information on Sitecore they need. In this blogpost, we tackle the why, what and how of SXA from their point of view. Got your attention? 

Our own past blog posts have been no different, we have written some amazing articles on SXA that focus on the product or a specific feature:

Tips for working with SXA | Fast go-to-market with SXA | Creating a custom rendering

Having said this, let us now discuss Sitecore SXA from a Sitecore Customer’s point of view. As in most cases, it can be good to create a much needed foundation by breaking a concept down into its basic building blocks. And what better way to do that than by answering some equally basic questions:

  • Why did Sitecore introduce an accelerator solution?
  • What is covered through the use of such an Experience Accelerator?
  • How does SXA change the way we work and is it here to last?

Why did Sitecore introduce an accelerator solution?

During the lifecycle of a web project, one of the first steps to take is to determine functionalities, design and integrations. Typically, these three aspects are handled independently from one another. Until, at a given moment in the project, they are mixed together to help sculpt the answer to all open business requirements.
Some projects either use functional wireframes or the newly created design as the starting point for the project. This implies that the creation of design and wireframes are two asynchronous processes. From an operational point of view, this means that the work that resides with the developers and IT department has to wait (in most part) until the design or wireframes have been finalized. These can then be used as guideline for the actual implementation.

With Sitecore, this approach has not been any different. Components, pages and functionalities are relatively directly coupled into their design and rendering. Developers and IT can start a project pretty fast by creating the solution and hosting environment. But they will have to wait until the design becomes available on a specific part of the functionality before that component can be finalized. Changing a component later on due to changing business requirements also requires actual code.

Sitecore acknowledged this problem and created the accelerator solution to shorten the entire run-through time of the project as well as create more synergy between the various aspects of a web-project.

What is covered through the use of such an Experience Accelerator?

The Sitecore accelerator is first of all a tool for the customer, meaning both the web manager, content manager and marketer. It provides faster toolings, handy shortcuts and a toolbox with components tailored to your actual project and its available functionalities.

The first goal of the accelerator is to make sure that the various teams that work on the digital project are able to work in parallel. There is still a clear distinction between content authors, designers and developers, but they are able to work on the same functionalities through their own specific needs and capabilities.

This implies that content authors can already start to fill in parts of the information architecture and content attributes inside the Sitecore Experience Editor environment. However, at that same time, the designer might be busy making modifications to the visual theme of the site, while the developer can make modifications to a data template or set-up an integration with your specific CRM solution.

Another goal of the accelerator is that of flexibility. This means that data-templates, renderings and site management (creation and settings) can easily be changed without the need for large project or modifications and subsequent deploys.

Some examples:

  • Adding a data field to an existing data template such as a product
  • Creating or modifying an existing design, or theme as it is called in Sitecore
  • Modifying and managing shared chrome elements across the site (Header, Footer, …)
  • Making use of cross-site, cross-page content re-use
  • Creating a new website, restrict the allowed components, choosing a design

How does SXA change the way we work and is it here to last?

Sitecore Experience Accelerator

The beauty of the accelerator is that is does not introduce a huge shift in how you work with Sitecore. You can still use the Content Editor alongside the Experience Editor. 

On top of that, the accelerator provides you with the right tooling to cut some corners:

  • More intuitive:, right click an item to publish or edit within the Experience Editor
  • Create content on your site by using the drag and drop component toolbox
  • Create content and components in wire framing mode or in your own design/theme
  • Leverage the flexibility of the 12 column grid system offered by Bootstrap
  • Design pages differently across device types such as mobile, tablets, desktops…

When using the Sitecore Experience Accelerator, you start with a blank new page or with a page that already holds some pre-defined blocks such as a header, footer and navigation. On this page you can add content that is either specific to that page of can be re-used elsewhere within your website. The choice is entirely yours.

With SXA, Sitecore focusses on content consistency and re-use. Sitecore recommends the use of SXA for all new Sitecore implementations and has now also announced the combination of SXA with the headless capabilities of the platform (Sitecore JSS). This means that this accelerator is a definite keeper that is actually in the driving seat for a number of other functionalities inside the platform.

In summary

The goal of the Sitecore Experience Accelerator is not purely to shorten the run-through time of a project and increase co-operation between the involved roles. The actual goal is to offer more flexibility and freedom on how to spend resources and budget wisely. 

The fact that this solution ships out of the box with about 80 component (up to 100 with Sitecore Commerce) allows you to:

Create those components and functionalities that will make your digital offering unique

Integrate and connect with backend systems and APIs to enrich your content and offering

Offer relevant content to your visitors and customer by truly understanding their journeys

If you would like to learn more on how the Sitecore Experience Accelerator could help you in future and existing Sitecore projects, feel free to reach out and we will be more than content to provide you with a demo of or practical information on the topic.

 

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