January 8, 2024

Content Reuse and Consistency with Paligo at Sitecore

image shows San Francisco - Sitecore headquarters

Company overview

Sitecore is a global leader of end-to-end digital experience software. Unifying data, content, commerce, and experiences, Sitecore’s SaaS-enabled, composable platform empowers brands to deliver unforgettable interactions across every touchpoint. Sitecore’s solution provides the cutting-edge tools brands need to build stronger connections with customers, while creating content efficiencies to stand out as transformation and innovation leaders.

Challenges to solve

Sue Brandt is the director of documentation at Sitecore, leading a team of over 20 writers, editors and developers. Since she started in 2016, the number of products in Sitecore’s portfolio has grown significantly, from two to ten, involving a variety of content management, analytics and commerce cloud solutions.

“We grew very quickly a couple of years ago and there were all sorts of content that had to be created and brought up to standard,” Sue explains.

In the beginning – before Paligo – Sue and a smaller team of 12 people had a process that was semi-structured with an authoring tool built on top of Sitecore’s own CMS system, but it had various constraints that meant they couldn’t always create content the way they wanted, or if they could, it was very inefficient to do certain common tasks, like inserting links into the documentation. Sue and her team wanted to move in a direction that served their purposes and supported daily operations in a much better way.

Team needs:

  • Efficiency in day-to-day work
  • Constrained content creation process
  • Need for reusing content across multiple documentation sets
  • Good support for editorial reviews; version history

Content reuse: A key factor in selecting Paligo

The team went through a rigorous process to find the right solution.

“We created a list of requirements with about 50 items on the list. We quickly screened 20 -30 products and narrowed that down to four or five. We then went through them in a detailed way. Paligo was the closest, plus we liked that it was a cloud-native product.”

When setting out the list of requirements, Sue’s team were very clear about what was needed. They felt their day-to-day work wasn’t as efficient as it could be, and the team was constrained in the way they created content. “We had multiple versions of the same product and needed to reuse content across multiple documentation sets. We wanted a straightforward use of everyday features like creating links, inserting images and playing with the structure, for example, in the table of contents.”

Content reuse was also essential, as well as being able to use variables and conditional information. One thing the documentation team had been lacking was the ability to enforce a set of styles. Sometimes, people would choose to use a different style or make something bold without using a style, so it was important to have a way to keep things consistent. Version history was also important so ‌that they could see when changes were made, by whom, and roll back if anything went wrong.

We wanted the ability to publish to HTML, PDF and Word as well as having rich metadata possibilities, meaning taxonomies, so that we could filter topics when searching and manipulate content on documentation sites in different ways.

Key requirements fulfilled by Paligo:

  • Providing efficiency in daily operations
  • Content reuse and variable features
  • The ability to enforce style sets
  • Keeping track of changes with version control
  • Easy multi-format publishing

The positive effect of implementing Paligo

Sitecore found it best to use a Component Content Management System, with support for common technical writing tasks. And this, of course, was the Paligo CCMS.

The decision to embrace Paligo was a game-changer, sparking a wave of positive transformation within the team. Once the team switched over to Paligo, the work atmosphere experienced greater efficiency and effectiveness as day-to-day tasks became remarkably smoother.

Content reuse emerged as a powerful tool, transforming the way tasks were approached. For example, when Sitecore’s legal department needed a disclaimer strategically placed at the beginning of each topic in a section, Paligo’s content reuse functionality streamlined the implementation process, turning what could have been a tedious task into a breeze. The shift towards efficiency not only saved time, but also empowered the team to accomplish tasks with newfound agility and effectiveness.

If we hadn’t had the content reuse that we have in Paligo, we would have been in big trouble because there were a couple of products that evolved out of existing products. Being able to reuse the same content and then tweak it if necessary has been really valuable.

“At the very basic level, we reuse the same topics in different publications. If there’s no difference in the features from one product to the other, or one version to the other, then we just use the same topic.”

The right balance of structure and flexibility

As writers on Sitecore’s documentation team came from different backgrounds, some of them were used to working in systems which weren’t structured enough, causing inconsistency in content, while a few others previously worked with DITA-based systems and found them too restrictive. With Paligo’s user-focused system, they feel they now have the right balance of having a structured authoring solution that isn’t overly strict. Sue expands on this by saying, “I’ve worked in a system before where if you had a procedure, you had to have all these set elements, and sometimes the content didn’t suit that and you had to artificially add content that wasn’t needed. Paligo has the right balance in terms of how much structure there is and how much flexibility there is.”

Adding personal productivity features

The docs site for Sitecore is built on top of a mix of various content sources by the documentation team’s own developers. This has enabled the team to add some productivity hacks, or productivity features into the mix, bringing their own personal use case to the next level. As an example, they have a function on the documentation site that lets them quickly modify a Paligo piece of content when they click on it.

“It’s definitely one of the favorite features of the writers because if you see a typo, then you can just immediately open up the topic and fix it. You don’t have to search in Paligo or anything like that.”

image shows how sitecore uses Paligo

The benefits of comprehensive and clear documentation

The efficiencies gained through switching to Paligo allowed the team to create more documentation and fill in gaps that were identified by the product support team.

Unlike other companies, where unclear or incomplete documentation often leads to numerous support tickets, this is not an issue for Sitecore. Sue explains, “We changed our documentation set a lot in the first two or three years I was here. And during those years, we reduced the number of documentation tickets to 25 percent of what they were before.”

“I used to meet every week with our support organization and then it went down to once a month. Now we don’t even do that because there are no big issues these days, only small things.”

Documentation through the Paligo CCMS has certainly helped the support team to deflect tickets and also to handle inquiries from users in an efficient manner. The comprehensive and clear documentation in Paligo makes it easy for customers to find the information they need, and if they are unable to locate it, the structure of the documentation makes it simple for the support team to find the answer promptly.

Conclusion

In summary, these are the features that are most appreciated by the Sitecore Docs team:

  • The use of variables and conditional information.
  • Reuse of content is a key factor in efficiency.
  • The need to maintain a consistent set of styles.
  • Elimination of issues with inconsistent text styles and formatting
  • Tracking changes: who made them and when.
  • Capability to roll back changes if necessary.
  • Able to publish in HTML, PDF, and Word formats.
  • Rich metadata and taxonomies for filtering and searching topics.
  • Enhanced capabilities for documentation interface (UI).

Overall, the team finds that Paligo is an excellent solution to their needs, providing a great balance between structure and flexibility. Not only does it help make sure their content is consistent, but it also allows them to easily and quickly adapt content for specific products and user needs. Paligo supports team efficiency, delivering great value through content reuse.

Your company may also benefit from the Paligo CCMS. To learn more about how our system can fit your needs, explore more here, or schedule a demo.