04 Min

What’s new in Sitecore 9.3 & what’s in it for marketers & development teams

What’s new in Sitecore 9.3 & what’s in it for marketers & development teams

This is the era of personalised experiences and contextual communications, and Sitecore has emerged at the forefront when it comes to helping brands deliver meaningful and long-term relationships with their customers. Over the years, Sitecore has offered unique propositions to brands through the blend of content delivery, commerce and data management.

With the release of Sitecore 9.3, brands have access to a whole lot of new features and improvements - this includes the new editing tool, Sitecore Horizon, Sitecore Bot detection in forms, Sitecore Blob storage, new interaction aggregation pipeline, Implementation of GDPR Improvements, etc. Apart from these features, performance and usability are also added advantages that are increasingly attracting the developers and marketers.

Below are some of the new features that are worth highlighting in Sitecore 9.3:

  • Installation
  • The PowerShell script installation was a bit cumbersome for some users in the older versions but with Sitecore 9.3, SOLR and SXA installation has been included within the existing SIA (Sitecore Installation Assistance). This provides GUI-based Sitecore Installation which makes the process quite easy and straightforward. Also, SIA installs all the prerequisites on its own.

    In order to install SOLR, we just have to key in the port number, service name and installation path, and SIA will automatically install Sitecore 9.3 that is compatible with the SOLR version. If compatible SOLR is already installed, then we can skip this step as well.

    Option to install SXA (Sitecore Experience Accelerator).

  • Sitecore Horizon
  • Horizon is a new editing tool introduced by Sitecore - this is a next-generation editor that includes the Page Editor, Page Insights and Stimulation mode, which can be accessed directly from Launchpad or via a URL that is provided while installing Horizon. Horizon also provides users with the Auto Save functionality, along with Undo and Redo options that are the most used features, while editing/building web pages.

    Horizon editor helps in creating new pages; we can also edit existing pages.

    Left panel: All content Items are accessible from the left panel. We can create, delete and rename pages from the left panel.

    Right panel: Right panel provides the basic information of a page and its workflow status. We can also change workflow state on any item directly from the right panel.

    Middle Area: Middle section shows the website view of the page selected in the left panel, just like the preview option. We can edit, delete and update controls on that page from this section.

    Horizon Editor also provides users with a Device Switcher mode where we can view the phone, tablet or desktop view of our page.

    Insights Views provides insights for the selected page. We can also use device switch options to see visits from phones, tablets, desktops, or all at once.

  • Sitecore Blob Storage
  • Sitecore has introduced the Blob Storage option that enables users to store media files in Azure. Blob storage helps in reducing hosting costs and also enhances performance. Whenever we upload any media item in the Media library, Sitecore stores that items as Blob on Azure, and creates a reference item against that media item, which contains metadata information.

  • Bot Detection
  • Sitecore 9.3 has included a bot detection functionality in Forms, which is used to detect if the user is Human or a bot. Thus, Captcha elements have been removed from Sitecore Forms. This option is enabled in forms by default. You can disable it from the Settings Tab in the Right panel of Sitecore Form.

  • Scribans
  • The most exciting feature of SXA 9.3 is the introduction of the Scribans template - this was introduced in SXA 9.3 was just to remove the legacy NVelocity template. A fast, powerful, safe and lightweight template - it was introduced in the rendering variants section of the new Sitecore SXA 9.3. Using creative exchange, we can easily import/export the Scriban templates. Besides, it is extremely flexible for the front-end developers to work on.

  • Search Enhancements (SXA 9.3)
  • With Sitecore Experience Accelerator 9.3, Sitecore has added two new search features i.e. Aggregated search filter and facet summary.

    Aggregated facet filter: The Aggregated Facet Filter allows us to build dynamic filters that help categorise our results, based on properties/fields that we’ll select.

    Facet summary: Facet summary shows the currently applied filters. It also gives an option to remove a facet or all facets at once.

  • Sitecore AI - Auto Personalization
  • At Sitecore Symposium 2019, Sitecore provided a hint thatSitecore AI is coming out with the next release. This has been introduced to overcome the difficulties that marketers face while setting the personalization rules for different user segments. As the users are dynamic, while our rules are static, it takes time for the marketers to identify visitor’s trends and then apply personalization rules for them.

    With the help of Sitecore AI, Sitecore can provide 1:1 personalization for every user. It identifies a visitor’s journey and provides personalized experiences to every user. Through the Personalization Dashboard, we can view why and how decisions were taken by Sitecore AI for each and every user who visits the website, along with their engagement value.

  • Marketing Enhancements
  • Email Experience Manager: Sitecore has introduced new creative templates under the Email Experience Manager which includes-

    • Announcement: This has an option to showcase a message with some text boxes, an image in the header and a CTA.
    • Alternating Columns: This includes an option to add multiple tile-like structures, each of which could further include - an image, some text or brief, and a link along with the header image, header text and a CTA.
    • Call to action focus: This has an option to highlight our message by providing a large header image, some brief and a CTA.

  • Sitecore Experience Forms
  • With 9.3, Sitecore Forms comes has introduced an out-of-the-box File Upload and Email Confirmation Feature, along with the ability to publish forms directly from the form panel.

  • Marketing Automation Enhancements
  • The Marketing automation tool has come up with a feature to specify date and time for a contact, to enter in an enrollment plan. This new scheduling feature, wherein we can specify the date and time, helps the marketers to schedule the enrollment of contact based on following timestamps-

    • A specific time of the day
    • A specific day of the week
    • A specific date

The bottomline

Sitecore Experience Platform 9.3, with its new range of features, spells good news for marketers - it will enable them to craft personalised customer experiences and enhance customer satisfaction.

Digital Customer Engagement for Asset & Wealth Management Companies
Shubham Associate Sitecore

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