The highlight is a national chain of entertainment venues and comedy clubs owned and operated by iNTERTAIN LTD. Formerly operating under the Jongleurs brand, highlight was launched in 2010 and operates venues up and down the country.
With the highlight venues beginning to break free of their comedy club roots and opening their doors to a range of new events such as club nights, live music gigs, dance classes and even burlesque shows, they started to outgrow the capabilities of their existing website. Constrained by this, iNTERTAIN felt that a flexible, future-proof new website designed from the ground up, would be best strategy to showcase these new entertainment offerings.
After an intensive period of competitor analysis, requirements gathering and wireframe iterations, it became obvious that Drupal was the ideal CMS for the implementation. The fact that Drupal is an incredibly flexible and versatile CMS with a proven track record in delivering sites such as this made it a very appealing choice, but it was the following features that Drupal allowed (without a great deal of technical heavy-lifting) that really sold it as the platform of choice to the client:
- Tiered levels of access that present a tailored version of the site to each user: Anonymous user, logged in user, venue manager, head office manager, admin
- Ability to allow certain users to only have control over specific pages e.g. the highlight Watford venue manager can only update the Watford venue page.
- Virtually every aspect of the site is content managed – from the navigation, page layout, content (event, venue, news, artist information, rotating banners, mpu’s)
- Advanced caching enables the pages to grow very long without inhibiting performance and allowing for high numbers of visitors to be on the site at any given time.
- Full event syndication so that event data can be easily shared with users and external parties.
- A solid, flexible platform that will be able to grow over time with the business.
- Multi-faceted search driven by the Apache Solr platform to give the most accurate results to users.
Other notable features include
- A customised Google Map application that brought the default Google Map design on-brand without upsetting the overall branding of the website.
- Not only did the Drupal CMS power a great looking website, it also powered a Facebook application that ran off a same platform.
- Drupal 7 implementation using a range of existing robust modules such as Views, CCK etc.
- A reverse proxy on the domain name was used on launch – this enabled no site down time during this crucial period.
- All old site url’s mapped to the appropriate content on the new website.
- Hosted using Amazon AWS to allow for maximum future scalability.
Some of the worries that businesses usually harbour, when faced with having to move to an established e-commerce website to new platform, on a new architecture are:
- will the site at least maintain the current levels of turnover?
- will the site still enjoy the same levels of traffic from the search engines?
- will the conversion rate be affected?
- will existing site users be happy and comfortable using the new site?
- will there be excessive downtime during the site launch?
- will site admins find the website easy to use?
Given that this project involved moving to an entirely new platform, on a different architecture with a completely different site structure, all of the above worries have been alleviated after a successful launch in June 2011.