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TECHNOLOGY 3 tips for new Sitecore users

Raise your hand if you’re a marketer who has struggled to learn how to use a new marketing technology platform recently.

It’s not that I am necessarily bad at learning how to master new technology (trust me, my AOL Hometown website was decked out in 2001), it’s just that I’ve had to use a different platform for each organization I have worked at in the past four years I’ve worked as a marketer. I’m a person who needs to practice new skills several times in order for the memory pathways in my brain to solidify, so until that happens, having a cheat sheet of tips and tricks for commonly used processes has helped me finish tasks quickly, and hopefully, this list will help you too.

Content editor vs. experience editor

I was definitely overwhelmed when I first looked at my screen after logging into Sitecore for the first time. It took me a while to learn that, essentially, there are two ways of working within Sitecore: using the Content Editor and using the Experience Editor. When you sign into Sitecore for the first time, you should see a page with all the options that you are able to choose from, and in the middle of the page there is a column titled “Content Editing.” The two adjoining options at the top of the column—“Content Editor” and “Experience Editor”—are what I’m talking about here.

In the Content Editor view, you are able to create content with multiple fields. For example, when I create a blog post, I am able to easily enter a subheading, an image for the post, teaser text, SEO meta keywords, and a subscribe form (some of this is just default content based on our settings, and your settings will likely be different). Again, if you’re new to using Sitecore, you will likely have a set number of fields you will need to fill in depending on what you are posting, and a workflow that you’ll need to practice a few times in order to get the hang of it. I still ask a colleague questions about how to post content to our website, but I have definitely gotten more comfortable with the process as I’ve done it more, and so can you.

On the other hand, the Experience Editor is a WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) view—where you are able to edit your content while seeing what it will actually look like on your website. If the content you’re working on is easier to edit while seeing what it will look like on a page—for example, a blog post with images integrated into the text—it is helpful to use the Experience Editor.

Locking and unlocking items

This is a concept that did not fully sink in for me until one day, when I was out grabbing lunch, I saw a Slack message on my phone from my coworker asking me to unlock pages that I had locked for editing and forgotten about. When you edit a page on Sitecore, you need to click “Lock and Edit” at the top of the page. This means that, while you are editing the page, another person cannot go in and perform their own edits—the page is “locked” to anyone else until you are finished. The first few times that I edited pages on Sitecore, I just clicked on “Lock and Edit” without thinking about what I was doing, but if you have multiple team members with administrative functions, it is important to make sure to check that your pages aren’t still locked for editing when you are finished.

Html vs. plain text

When you’re composing a body of text within the Content Editor, and you are copying and pasting text from somewhere else, you must click on “Edit HTML” at the top of the box. For example, when I am adding descriptions of events our team members are attending to our Events page, I usually grab some text describing the event from its website, as a basic introduction before a viewer decides to click on the link for more information. This text must go in the Edit HTML field so that the predetermined stylistic settings of your website will remain the same when it is pasted in (as opposed to those from the website you are pasting).

The truth is, even those of us who create content in Sitecore every day could use a refresher on some of the tools that help us to publish. These basic tips can be a go-to source of knowledge to keep you on track and help you complete all your tasks on time.