Knowledge Base

Guide to using Microsites

Last Modified:
16 Jan 2019
User Level:
Power User

Description

This explains the reasons for using a Microsite, the types of Microsites and choosing another Channel over a Microsite.

Why use a Microsite?

A Microsite lets you have portions of a larger Channel managed or published in a different way. It allows you to update it more frequently without having to update the larger website.

Who manages Microsites?

The Administrator and designated Power users create and maintain Microsites.

Possible uses of a Microsite

  • Content that needs more frequent updates - news, registration opportunities, events
  • Content that changes by the calendar - seasonal schedule changes, opening and closing hours
  • Immediate information - cancellations, weather disruptions

By publishing only a part of a site, publishing is quicker. If a particular section of a website has content being modified or added daily, but the rest of the website is static, it is a good idea to set up the frequently updated section as a Microsite.

The release of content can be scheduled to meet changing needs. A Microsite can be scheduled to publish only once a day for a set period, this again helps the performance of the system because a Microsite can be run during non-peak times.

Two types of Microsites

Symbolic Microsite

This is used for publishing purposes only and is part of the main Channel - the difference is shown in the corresponding URL:

  • Main Channel: http://www.mysite.com/
  • Microsite: http://www.mysite.com/news/

Fully formed Microsite

This has a Base HREF and output directory specified independently of the parent channel. It is necessary for the parent channel to have a Base HREF as well so links can be generated between the two sites. When a Microsite has a Base HREF, but the parent channel does not, the Microsite is treated as a Symbolic Microsite. If both have Base HREFs specified, and the microsite has an Output directory specified, a structure similar to below is generated:

  • Main Channel: http://www.mysite.com/
  • Microsite: http://news.mysite.com/

When an output directory is specified, it applies for all files generated. Any media used in this Microsite is output to a media (or custom named) directory under the main directory of the Microsite, as opposed to the media folder of the main channel (http://news.mysite.com/media/).

How to choose between another Channel or a Microsite

Because of the similar elements and purposes to a Channel and a Microsite, TERMINALFOUR has compiled some reasons why a Microsite could be the better choice or some other options. A Microsite is part of a channel, and one channel can have multiple microsites. Access rights and personalization remain the same for the channel (parent site) and the microsite.

Each Microsite can have a different domain or sub-domain to the parent Channel if required, or it can be a sub-directory of the parent Channel. For example, we set up a site named www.mysite.com, and then we can create a Microsite for:

  • news.mysite.com
  • www.mysite.com/news
  • www.mysite-news.com

A Microsite permits users to publish a part of the channel. For example, a Power user can be assigned to a particular Microsite which lets that user to publish only a single Microsite and not the parent channel. Or, a Power user can be tasked to manage a particular channel or Microsite.

You can create Section/Content links between Microsites within the same channel. This is not possible to do between Channels.

It is not possible to pull content between channels using Navigation Objects. For example, if you had a central directory of Staff profiles or Courses, and they are "tagged" according to department/school, it is not possible to pull a Staff/Course List onto a particular department page when the department is on a separate channel.

It is possible to mirror content between channels, but this is only for individual content items. It is possible to mirror sections/branches between channels, but the content and page layout cannot be modified within the mirrored section and can only be modified in the original location.

Due to the issue with content re-use between channels, it is often not possible to re-use Page Layouts across channels unless they are specifically configured to allow it. For example, in your Page Layouts, if the code for the global analytics is stored within a Content Item, this Content Item could not be "pulled" between channels using the same Page Layout. The Page Layouts need to be built and configured specifically with the channel re-use in mind. In the case of the analytics, this code may rather be stored within a Media Item, which can be re-used across channels; or it may be stored in a section of a specific name, and a Related content navigation object is used to look for a section of a specific name (as opposed to selecting a specific section).

Typically, TERMINALFOUR would recommend that channels are used for different websites, with different designs. For example, if you have a separate mobile website (i.e. your site is not responsive) then this would need a different channel. Or if you have a website which is associated with your organization but has different/distinct branding, then that website may be a separate channel. Where websites (or subsites) all use the same/similar design and all fall under the umbrella of the main website, with a number of links and/or shared content with other parts of the website, which is when they would generally be created as Microsites.