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Purchasing workflow and subscription management.

Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Development
    Tom Fleming

Success meant they needed new automation for their process.

Unable to keep up with manually processing a high volume of new and existing B2B customer requests, DEEP Information Sciences (DeepIS) asked Last Call Media to build an online self-service subscription management service on top of their Drupal 7 site.

The service needed to enable customers to create an account, provide necessary marketing metadata for DeepIS’ marketing team, and guide customers through the sales process from subscription estimation to subscription purchase, renewal, and upgrade. Customers also needed to access content related to their service, DeepSQL, online in real time. 

Leveraging AngularJS, LCM built a seamless custom subscription purchasing workflow app to guide the user through the dynamic purchasing workflow by feeding and pulling data as necessary to and from HubSpot, their marketing automation tool; SalesForce, their CRM; and Zuora, their subscription management service.

The custom subscription calculator in the AngularJS app pulled in data in real time from Zuora, using Zuora’s APIs, so users were presented with the most up-to-date pricing. Once the purchasing workflow was complete, the user’s card was charged and they received an email with their receipt and license key moments later, all without needing to speak to a DeepIS representative.

This implementation solved the problem where a prospective customer had to email or call DeepIS to purchase a subscription and manage their account. The new online workflow slashed the conversion time by eliminating the need to call DeepIS to purchase a subscription, increased customer satisfaction, and significantly increased revenue for DeepIS. With the biggest barrier to conversion eliminated, users were now clicks away from purchasing a subscription.

Further, with event-triggered email campaigns using HubSpot, DeepIS was able to strategically nurture customers on the trial or free plan to upgrade to a paid plan. Data from SalesForce, Drupal, and Zuora was fed to HubSpot email campaigns, increasing the likelihood of a user purchasing a paid subscription. The emails had a unique URL generated by SalesForce, and the user could provide their credit card information and upgrade their subscription with a few clicks.

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Delivering a high stakes MVP.

Processes
  • Agile/Kanban
  • Agile/Scrum
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Tom Fleming

Following a branding initiative, Designow worked with Last Call Media to build and launch the initial release of a complex crowdfunding platform on Drupal.

When we began, initial prototyping and feature development had already been started. As is often the case, much of the prototyping had made its way into substantial portions of what was now the project’s foundational work. It had become difficult to determine exactly what was completely done, what was partially done, and what requirements had been left out along the way.

We used our expertise in Agile methodologies to bring order to complexity and the product to launch. We began by building and prioritizing a backlog of tasks, and getting high-priority tasks into a ready state by defining appropriate definitions of done. We focused on implementing strategies for limiting the work in progress present in the project when we started. We forecasted a few sprint goals, informed by our backlog development and resulting strategies, and quickly went into heavy development.

Immediate visibility for stakeholders into development progress became of major importance for their own ability to make quick business decisions concerning their investment. In order to maximize the value of the work, we adapted our initial Scrum iteration approach into shorter, one-week sprints of continuous delivery to get small groups of completed tasks out faster. This soon evolved into more of an ideal Kanban flow, allowing a continuous awareness and continuous delivery of the right value.

Since the initial release, LCM and Designow have continuously measured and inspected valuable feedback. Our work is ongoing, as the product is currently receiving regular releases of new features and refinements.

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Looking before we leap.

Team Leadership
  • Art Director
    Colin Panetta

After working with Blackboard—the largest education technology and services company in the world—on restructuring and retheming their corporate site Blackboard.com, we knew we needed to test our efforts in order to iron out any problems before the site went live. Normally we may conduct remote moderated user testing for this (watching users navigate the site over a video call to gauge how well it works for them), but Blackboard’s annual user convention, BbWorld, provided a perfect opportunity to conduct this testing in person.

Goals

We wrote a list of goals for our user testing that included learning about user behavior, whether the site was intuitive to navigate, whether free trials were easy to find, and what users thought about the new design. We worked with the team at Blackboard to define these goals and to ensure we were all on the same page about what we would hope to learn from these interviews. We then constructed our interview questions around meeting these goals, asking users to complete tasks that would ultimately give us the necessary insights for the next phase of work.

Testing setup

On-site at BbWorld, we used Formstack to conduct our user interviews. This gave us an adaptable setup that enabled Blackboard staff to conduct testing right alongside us, even though many of them had never done so before. Speaking directly to users about the site gave Blackboard staff a higher level of empathy with their users than if they had just read a report, giving them deeper insight into how users viewed the site. We also made screen recordings of our interviews, for later reference.

The BbWorld attendees we interviewed consisted of institution technologists, instructors, academic leaders, corporate partners (resellers, ed tech vendors), and trainers, mostly in higher education, as opposed to K-12, government, or business. Most were influencers or decision-makers when it comes to purchasing education software for their institution—a valuable perspective to be sure! In the end, we facilitated almost 70 total interviews over just a couple of days! 

There were a number of initiatives in place to encourage people to test the site. These included push notifications from the BbWorld app, a $15 Starbucks gift card that was given at the end of the testing, and an event-wide “passport” attendees could only complete by visiting our table. Most of the people we spoke to came to us for one of these reasons.

Original Blackboard.com site with dark interface and many links
The old Blackboard.com

Learning about the old site

The majority of people we spoke to at BbWorld said they had used Blackboard.com before. We were particularly interested to hear from these experienced users, so we could establish a baseline experience using the old site, to later compare their experience using new site. Measuring these experiences against each other would tell us whether or not the restructure and retheme was an improvement. For example, if someone used the site for gathering specific information about Blackboard, did the new site make it easier or harder for them to do that?

Here’s what that baseline experience looked like:

  • Half of the people we spoke to said the current Blackboard.com was easy to use, with a quarter each saying it was hard or neutral.
  • Most common uses for the site included navigating to Blackboard’s Community site, reviewing the Higher Education section for language on products, or seeking help or support.
  • Finding things or navigating the site were listed as the most common difficulty, although some thought it worked well!
  • Opinions about the navigation were mostly negative.
  • Testers felt that site was clean, but some thought it presented too much information.
  • Most people said they access the site by typing the url in their address bar. (A sure sign of an experienced user!)
  • Almost universally, people accessed the site from a desktop computer.
Redesigned Blackboard.com site with brighter interface and consolidated links
The rethemed Blackboard.com

Learning about the new site

Moderated user testing is often the first time people outside of your team sees your product. While this can be daunting, it’s important to be open to constructive criticism big and small—after all, that’s the point of user testing! So while we were prepared (as always) for negative feedback, the overall response to the new Blackboard.com was extremely positive. Whew!

While we walked into testing thinking that, visually, the new theme was more of a small facelift than a full redesign, people were enthusiastic about the design of the new site. Before we could even ask about the design, many people immediately stated that they thought it was a big improvement, using words like “clean,” “modern,” and “professional” to describe it.

Many people also liked the new navigation structure. Comments about it included “All the overwhelming links are gone. Now I can digest what the navigation is offering. It’s highlighting the important information,” and “Navigation is simplified and to the point. More intuitive and easy to navigate, it will take a shorter time to get to what I want.”

Despite having a high level of familiarity with Blackboard, two thirds of the people we spoke to said that they learned something new about Blackboard during their brief time on the new site. Blackboard is working to let the public know that they’re more than just an LMS, so we were happy to hear the site is now aiding in that. Blackboard’s recruiting, safety, and social media management services were among the things people most commonly cited having learned about. 

After performing a few tasks on the new site, half of the people we spoke to said the new site was easier to use than the old site, with a quarter each saying it was harder or the same.

But of course there was still room for improvement. Things that people thought could be improved included:

  • Many people thought the site wasn’t doing a good job of explaining who Blackboard is and what they do.
  • While the new navigation worked well for many people, some expressed confusion over the specifics of what it was presenting. Specifically, they were unsure what was a product and what was a service, and confused about the word “community” being used in two different places to indicate different things.
  • Users would often miss the button for free trials, sometimes not seeing it at all until we pointed it out.

Results

The thing that gives our partners the most pause when pulling the trigger on user testing is that you don’t always know what the results will be ahead of time. How can you justify dedicating time and resources to something when you don’t know what you’re going to get? But that’s the point of testing—to find out things you don’t know. We’ve never walked away from testing without valuable insights that went on to inform the rest of the project, and our Blackboard testing was no exception.

One small but impactful result was that we changed the color of the free trial CTA. We made this pivot quickly in the middle of testing, which enabled us to gauge the impact immediately. People started noticing the button more, and thus the issue was resolved immediately — no muss no fuss! It was gratifying to have something so small make an immediate positive impact and we all laughed at how long we chatted about that button color prior to testing! Post-launch, this CTA is used six times more than it was before the redesign, and the page it links to is now the third most viewed on the site, leading more users to this essential content.

Following user testing we did an extensive redesign of the homepage, and the feedback we received stating the site should tell users who Blackboard is and what they do was our guiding light. The new Blackboard homepage is a top to bottom narrative that tells the story of Blackboard starting with a broad overview, then moves into some specifics, and then shows what Blackboard does in action. Post-launch, Blackboard has seen a decrease in the bounce rate of their homepage, meaning more users are engaging with it.

What we learned in user testing also informed the new site navigation. The site structure had been massively rearranged, shifting from being market-based to value-based. The feedback we received about certain parts of the navigation being unclear helped refine the language used. Post-launch, more Blackboard users have been getting to their destination in 0-2 clicks, meaning they’re using the new navigation to find what they’re looking for faster.

The insight that user testing provides can come in the form of reassurance. Since people were enthusiastic about the new site being easy-to-use, we could move forward with the confidence that there were no big missing pieces. Furthermore, since the new theme was so well received, we realized the visual changes provided a larger impact, shifting our perception of it from being a “facelift” to something closer to a redesign.

Blackboard.com subsequently relaunched and, with the help of the insights we gained in user testing, is seeing a decreased bounce rate on the homepage, more users finding their destination quickly, and a dramatic increase in traffic to the free trial page, meaning teachers and students worldwide have better access to some of the best digital learning tools on the market.

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Strategic pivot, design and development.

Processes
  • Agile/Kanban
  • Agile/Scrum
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Architect
    Jeff Landfried
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

Last Call Media helped the CIO Council team rethink their strategic approach. The CEC Exchange needed to be rebranded and transformed from a place where very few people logged in, to one that showcased the key benefits of membership in the Council: media placements, personalized leadership development, and exclusive access to unique content, events, and peer-matching services.

The CIO Executive Council is a community of Chief Information Officers and other high-level IT professionals from corporate, nonprofit, education, and government backgrounds, gathered together by the International Data Group, a giant technology media, data, and marketing firm responsible for such well-known brands as PCWorld, MacWorld, and CIO Magazine.  

The CIO Executive Council created the CEC Exchange, which had originally been envisioned as a community space for their CIO members to share things of mutual interest. Two years in, the log-in only service was largely unused by the incredibly busy C-Level executives who were members of the Council.  

CEC Exchange uses Salesforce to manage information about each user in their membership pipeline. On the Drupal side, the site contains several main sections that each have their own exclusive resources and content. These sections require a subscription to access. Using a combination of the Salesforce Suite and the Organic Groups module, the site regularly retrieves updated information from Salesforce and syncs it with the Drupal user list, tracking their subscriptions by assigning them to the appropriate groups. The site’s dashboard displays specialized tiles that administrators have full control over, allowing them to highlight featured content and the most sought-after resources within each section for subscribed users. Site visitors and users without a subscription can still see the content that is available from each subscription package, but receive an admin-customizable call to action specific to the content they are attempting to access when they click on a tile from the dashboard.

nav hihglight

phones

 

icons

tablet

Last Call Media designed a much simpler and more attractive interface built around the most compelling products and services that the CIO Exchange has to offer. A CIO visitor to the site can now see how the resources there can help them further their own career, stay on top of the ever-changing trends in technology, reach out to peers facing similar challenges, and access the CIO Exchange’s team of expert concierge staff to answer any questions they may have.

Through a mix of branding and design, Last Call Media re-made the site, which was recently relaunched to incredibly positive initial feedback.

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AIA Top Ten digital transformation.

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Rob Bayliss

The American Institute of Architects had a legacy web application that displayed contest winners from past AIA Top Ten contests. The entries were complex static HTML pages consisting of more than 10 years worth of winning projects. Each project was explained and judged on around 100 different criteria. Every year, architects would submit their entries via a paper form, which would then be copied and distributed to the judges. At the end of voting, winning entries would be converted into webpages for display on the site. This process required an extremely high level of involvement from applicants, administrators, and judges.

We built a custom form submission system, spanning 13 pages of information, that allowed users to save, resume, and rollback their nominations.

An administrative workflow was added for approval, voting, and judging, plus a PDF exportable version for offline viewing. Winning submissions can be flagged as ‘winner’ which publishes the data to the public website. Non-winning submissions are set back to pending and can be resubmitted annually for up to 10 years.

The result of our work is a streamlined version of the former project submission process. It requires far less work to maintain, and because it was built on a Content Management System, future changes or upgrades to the site are far easier than they would have been with the old bespoke system.

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Drill down to savings.

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Rob Bayliss

Coupon Craze had a lot of information for their users, and there were many different personas who frequented the site looking for specific coupons from within the wide variety the site offers.

Faceted searching was one of the solutions implemented to help visitors drill down further into the specifics they were looking for.

We developed a faceted search tool for their catalog to solve the challenge of drilling down through the options to get to a specific coupon.

coupon search

By structuring and categorizing the content of this site appropriately in the database, we were able to implement faceted searching functionality across the entire site.

Site visitors are able to use this implementation to drill down to very specific coupons. This work has substantially increased conversions.

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The new DocuWare.com on Drupal.

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Architect
    Jeff Landfried
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

Originally built with many cumbersome integrations on an outdated proprietary .ASP CMS platform, DocuWare.com could no longer serve the company’s current and future needs. As the project lead, LCM collaborated with DocuWare’s team spread across four different global locations. With the Drupal panels module, a custom content creation workflow that imported content from multiple distinct systems and built a fully-functional online community was developed. LCM’s integrations with all vital external systems (CRM, document management, and software licensing), as well as the data tunnels established between the website and critical internal systems at DocuWare, allow tens of thousands of customers to share ideas and resources across DocuWare’s regional networks for the first time in the history of the company. The result is a seamless customer experience across all divisions, deployed in under six months.

DocuWare, in the midst of a rebranding effort and needing to refresh its online presence, contacted Last Call Media to update its content management system. Its massive website, with multiple integrations to external servers and an outdated proprietary .ASP CMS, could no longer serve the company’s needs and was not flexible enough for DocuWare’s expected growth trajectory. 

Last Call worked in cooperation with DocuWare’s web services teams in the US and Germany to manage collaboration efforts between four firms in different global locations. This project allowed Last Call Media to take the Drupal panels module to new limits—develop a custom content creation workflow, import content from multiple distinct systems, and build a fully-functional online community. Each firm contributed individual elements of the design, content strategy, and brand development, making this a truly exciting collaborative process.

Last Call’s maintenance of integration with all vital external systems (customer relations management, document management, and software licensing), as well as the data tunnels established between the website and critical internal systems at DocuWare allowed tens of thousands of customers to share ideas and resources across DocuWare’s regional networks for the first time in the history of the company. The result is a seamless customer experience across all divisions, deployed in under six months.

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Leveraging our Scaffolding and Drupal 8.

Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

Since early 2014, LCM has continued a productive, ongoing partnership with Chicken Soup for the Soul, and supports their web properties and the associated infrastructure. Recently, Chicken Soup asked LCM to launch two new and completely different Drupal 8 sites within a month. LCM worked off of prototypes from Chicken Soup for the Soul and was trusted to move quickly. By deploying two separate teams of 2 developers, LCM was able to take each site from prototype to launch on D8 and Pantheon within two weeks, while another team maintained the ongoing feature release schedule on Chicken Soup for the Soul’s massive Drupal 6 site.

In June of 2016, Chicken Soup needed a simple site for their rapidly-growing television and online programming production and distribution business. The site needed to handle a collection of content pages and videos, and was intended to be another microsite that would follow some standard templating and functionality as laid out for previous Chicken Soup sites LCM had worked on, and new sites that were still to come.

Chicken Soup was looking for an alternative approach.

Building new features to support growing business lines inside their massive aging Drupal 6 site was becoming unsustainable. Over time, the site had accumulated so much functionality that each deployment ran a high risk of breaking something, which led to lengthy deployments. Recognizing that issue, a plan was developed in partnership with Chicken Soup for the Soul to spin out a series of smaller, more focused sites sharing a similar architecture. Drupal’s modular architecture, and particularly Drupal 8’s approach to dependency management, made it a great fit for this task. Additionally, while the core CMS functionality of Drupal 6 worked well, the UI was becoming dated and cumbersome to work with. Drupal 8 featured a lot of usability enhancements, such as the built in WYSIWYG, that would make the site much more usable overall. Finally, the feature set of the site was tightly focused, and after consideration, we were able to implement it with a small handful of contributed modules, and very little technical debt. 

Following on the success of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Foods site, Last Call Media used a similar formula: leverage Drupal 8 core wherever possible, and avoid contributed modules. This was a great strategy in terms of avoiding the turmoil of early Drupal 8 contrib churn, and had the side benefit of keeping the site very lean and performant. After experiencing some past pain points in using the bare “Configuration Management” system in Drupal 8, we chose to use the Features module on this project. Features makes it easy to bundle configuration into modules, and makes it easier to share configuration (in the form of Drupal modules) between the brand’s sites should the need arise in the future. 

The site uses Last Call Media’s boilerplate Drupal 8 scaffolding build, which helped jumpstart the development process by providing a suite of best practices and quality assurance tools with no extra effort.

The goal of this project was to build a flexible marketing site capable of showcasing Chicken Soup for the Soul’s entertainment offerings; primarily their TV shows and online videos. The biggest obstacles the project faced were the looming deadline, the relative instability of Drupal 8 immediately following the initial release, and the lack of contributed modules that were available to us. For example, the Media-related modules we would normally use for the online video section were not stable yet. Instead of using a media/file entity as we normally would to store an online video, we leveraged Drupal core’s new URL field to store the URL of the Rumble video, and used a field template to output an embed link. It was a simple and elegant solution to a difficult problem. 

Thanks to excellent communication with Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Digital Strategy team, and Last Call’s experience in working with Drupal 8, we were able to turn the project around in just two weeks. This met the deadline set by the marketing team, and achieved all of the goals that were set out. 

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Pet food microsite, built in two weeks.

Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

Since early 2014, LCM has continued a productive, ongoing partnership with Chicken Soup for the Soul, and supports their web properties and the associated infrastructure. Recently, Chicken Soup asked LCM to launch two new and completely different Drupal 8 sites within a month. LCM worked off of prototypes from Chicken Soup for the Soul and was trusted to move quickly. By deploying two separate teams of 2 developers, LCM was able to take each site from prototype to launch on D8 and Pantheon within two weeks, while another team maintained the ongoing feature release schedule on Chicken Soup for the Soul’s massive Drupal 6 site.

In June of 2016, Chicken Soup needed a simple site to promote their line of wholesome pet food and message of overall health and wellbeing for dogs and cats. The site needed to handle a collection of content pages for products and species, as well as a store locator to show users where their products are available. The Chicken Soup Pet Foods site is a microsite that follows standard D8 templating and functionality, as laid out for previous Chicken Soup sites LCM has completed, and new sites that are still to come.

Chicken Soup was looking for an alternative approach.

Building new features to support growing business lines inside their massive aging Drupal 6 site was becoming unsustainable. Over time, the site had accumulated so much functionality that each deployment ran a high risk of breaking something, which led to lengthy deployments. Recognizing that issue, a plan was developed in partnership with Chicken Soup for the Soul to spin out a series of smaller, more focused sites sharing a similar architecture. Drupal’s modular architecture, and particularly Drupal 8’s approach to dependency management, made it a great fit for this task. Additionally, while the core CMS functionality of Drupal 6 worked well, the UI was becoming dated and cumbersome to work with. Drupal 8 featured a lot of usability enhancements, such as the built-in WYSIWYG, that would make the site much more usable overall. Finally, the feature set of the site was tightly focused, and after consideration, we were able to implement it with a small handful of contributed modules, and very little technical debt. 

After experiencing some past pain points in using the bare “Configuration Management” system in Drupal 8, we chose to use the Features module on this project. Features makes it easy to bundle configuration into modules, and makes it easier to share configuration (in the form of Drupal modules) between the brand’s sites should the need arise in the future. The site uses Last Call Media’s boilerplate Drupal 8 “scaffolding” tool, which produces an artifact build, and provides a lot of best practices and testing tools out of the box. Other than that, we worked hard to use as much of the core D8 functionality as we possibly could to reduce our future technical debt as contributed modules matured.

The goal of this project was to build a flexible marketing site capable of showcasing Chicken Soup for the Soul’s line of pet food products, promoting the retailers that sell those products, and building flexible pages containing multimedia content. The biggest obstacles the project faced were the looming deadline, the relative instability of Drupal 8 immediately following the initial release, and the lack of contributed modules that were available to us. For example, the Addressfield/Geofield modules we would normally use for the “Find a Retailer” feature were unavailable to us, and we were forced to get creative. We ended up using Google’s Fusion Tables as a datasource, with some javascript to embed the data on the page and provide the interactivity. Overall, this was a great tradeoff, since it allows us to offload the import/edit UI and the proximity to a third party, whereas the old solution required building a custom importer to bring a CSV into Drupal, and a number of slow spatial queries to be made against the database.

Thanks to excellent communication with Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Digital Strategy team, and Last Call’s experience in working with Drupal 8, we were able to turn the project around in just two weeks. This met the deadline set by the marketing team, and achieved all of the goals that were set out.   

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NYSE Euronext.

Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Rob Bayliss

Providing team augmentation to the New York Stock Exchange

Demonstrated extensive knowledge of Drupal, PHP, MYSQL… contribution to the codebase proved to be complete and accurate… took the initiative to find the root cause of the problems …dependable part of the team… we have been very pleased.

Debnath Mondel, New York Stock Exchange

We embedded our expertise into a very large undertaking to assist a variety of needs.

NYSE Euronext needed to migrate from two legacy systems to a single modern content management system with a rebranded, new look and feel. The project was massive and LCM was brought in to round out internal teams with our expertise.

Engagement included working with in-house developers and other development teams to migrate their legacy systems to Drupal sites, as well as to build required new sites, including a custom blogging platform.

NYSE Euronext’s euronext.com website now redirects to the new Drupal sites.