How Sitefinity Structure Makes It Easier To Manage A Website

By Scott McAtasney, Bayshore Solutions Development Team.

After launching a shiny, brand new website, the biggest challenge a site owner can face is how to use it. Replicating design and test content can often become difficult as you begin to implement your own content into the new website. Fortunately with Sitefinity CMS websites, there are features that allow you to have greater control over your content once the site build is complete (and the keys to your shiny new website have been placed in your hands). When web developers leverage these features during the build, they can ease the tech-barriers between non-technical business marketers and allow for the streamlined admin of even a complex website.

Sitefinity developers use three levels when building out and configuring layouts for website pages. Layouts are configured:

  • Within the code in grid system templates and layouts
  • At the page template level
  • At the actual page level

Each of these layers of the page design structure offers unique opportunities to create a page layout that is both visually appealing and functionally easy to use.

Creating “Placeholders” Via the Grid System

Complex content sections of a web page, such as a header or a footer, are best structured within a grid system template. Using this method, a web developer controls the layout and HTML needed to provide the end website user with a usable product.

A quick example of a building a header is shown here (note the use of “div” and “sf_colsIn”:

Sitefinity structure for easier content management content gridsystem code

By utilizing such a custom grid system template, your developer is able to create “divs” for each section of your web page layout and by placing the “sf_colsIn” class within the div, a placeholder is established to place content on the frontend. Now when the website content manager needs to create a header, all that is required is dragging a grid system template onto the page and dropping in the required widgets. This type of layout can be created for any type of content block that would normally require the content management user to apply classes or additional HTML to achieve a desired look or layout.

Well-Planned Page Templates

The page template is the next layer of the page build process. Well thought out page templates can make content population a breeze for the end users. A complex site design may require several page templates. It is important to only put what’s required for the universal “basics” of the pages being created, because any content placed on these templates will be propagated to all pages created from the template.

With the proper use of the grid system layout, the website content management user will find well-labeled placeholders to properly build out our example header, like this:

Sitefinity structure for easier content management - content template level

The appropriate widgets can then be dragged into their respective locations and configured without any further styling or layout building by the website content manager.

Page-Level Content Blocks

Content is fine-tuned at the page creation level. The template-level layouts and content will already be in place so this part of the page build is for specific content population that only applies to the current page. Those pre-built grid system templates can be extremely useful at this level to supply the content management user with pre-made, complex content layout blocks. This enables the content management user to simply drag these layouts on to the page and then drop in the appropriate widgets to build out the rest of the content.

Examples of well labeled content blocks are shown below:

Sitefinity Structure for easier contetn management - page level

These levels of customization may not be the most visible aspects you’ll see in a demo, but are a useful developer-side feature of Sitefinity.  With these, even the most complex designs can be a breeze for the end admin-user to manage and give the power of design back to the site owner.

Bayshore Solutions is a certified Sitefinity partner, with the experience and expertise to build high-performance and easy-to-manage websites to help grow your business. To learn more about how we can help with your website, contact us today.

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