Pitfalls of Implementing AEM for the First Time

Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is an incredibly powerful platform that, when implemented properly, will serve as the foundation of your Customer Experience Management efforts. However, the depth and capability of the platform results in a learning curve that can impact the usability, maintainability and effectiveness of the solution.

The first step in implementing a new AEM site begins with analysis and page design work based on the information architecture and visual design of the site. It is critical to have team members who understand how to identify the optimal number of patterns, templates and components to ensure maximum reuse of code and minimize the amount of rework, recoding and maintenance associated with the site.

Common challenges we have seen with implementations done by inexperienced teams include:

  • HTML as content – Some teams, in the interest of speed, push overly large blocks of HTML into pages instead of allocating authoring areas. This results in pages that require HTML editing to update.
  • Overly complex components – Reusable components tend to be simple and easy to maintain. If an overly complex component seems to be required, the design may need to be addressed.
  • Excess templates – This common mistake involves creating dozens of new templates when a smaller number, along with reusable components, will do the job. It results in greater maintenance work as the same changes need to be repeated in multiple areas.
  • Frustrated authors – Authors should be involved early and often in the design of the site in order to ensure that the tool is optimized to their needs. Provide UAT sessions and a feedback process so that their needs are met.
  • Permissions overload – It is best to build general groups to manage reading, writing and deleting content. Customers tend to over-plan and build groups that are either never used or are too restrictive. Develop specific project- and location-based groups as they are needed.
  • Underutilization of tools – Workflows and Projects are typically used sparingly or not at all, but these tools should be embraced wholeheartedly. They can simplify the authoring process, add governance and ensure consistency across your content.
  • Unplanned content architecture – Content architecture is a set of principles and best practices used to manage content. Components, configurations and multi-site management all depend upon content paths and conventions. If content architecture is not planned at the beginning of a project, it will become difficult to scale and maintain content over time. Take some time at the beginning of the project to plan out your content architecture.
  • Ineffective DAM taxonomy – Often, the first launch has a few folders with too many poorly tagged assets. This makes it difficult to find and use assets. Setting up a taxonomy for your digital assets can simplify the usage and discoverability of assets and enable the use of Workflows and Projects.
  • Unnecessary customizations – AEM is a powerful tool and with that power comes great responsibility. It can be tempting to make customizations to the product that are useful but are outside the upgrade path. These kinds of customizations can increase the cost of upgrades by more than 100%. To avoid this, put a process into place that evaluates each customization to determine if it’s needed and whether it fits into the upgrade path of the product.
  • Dynamic data and performance – Many websites and digital experiences are driven by dynamic, personalized data. You need to design AEM components that can not only use dynamic data, but also still be cached to increase performance and scalability. You don’t want to deliver a personalized experience that performs poorly. Use proven technologies like AJAX and edge side includes with your AEM components to deliver a speedy, personalized experience.

There are numerous other challenges that can be mitigated by a quality design effort. The right partner can help to ensure that you get the most out of your AEM platform and build a solid foundation for the future.

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