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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.

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Upgrading the CAIA Association.

Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
Team Leadership
  • Senior Architect
    Jeff Landfried
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

Time-sensitive reporting was challenged by a lack of exporting and reporting capabilities of the previous web platform, so CAIA was looking at upgrading their existing infrastructure from an outdated, highly customized and modified eCommerce website, to a more robust solution upgraded to the newest version of Drupal.

How we did it

Profile picture for user Jeff

We joined the project to get it across the finish line. We refined the existing agile approach for a better-organized project backlog and a more deliberate iteration strategy.

Our solution included working with in-house developers to migrate and upgrade numerous features and systems to work with the most current major Drupal version. Tailored reporting capabilities were developed, giving real-time statistical and sales figures for their support team and company executives.

 

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Continuous delivery to the LEEDuser community.

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

LEEDuser helps you get your building project LEED certified with tips, checklists, sample documentation, forums, and more. All of these features, and the community that uses them, run on the Drupal platform. LEEDuser needed ongoing assistance, planning, and implementation of new features for its community.

To enhance the value to the community, we developed and implemented several enhancements. Our focus centered around adjustments to the logic behind the forum posts and replies. Our work included a more intuitive nesting and notification system, as well as new voting and ranking logic to better surface posts of value to community members. Effort was also dedicated to improving the pathways and user experience, guiding them to the desired conversations.

The people at LCM are professional, personable, and available whenever we needed them.

Nadav Malin, President, BuildingGreen, Inc.
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The new Coupon Craze on Drupal.

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

CouponCraze.com’s website was outdated and falling behind when it came to SEO and rankings. In order to gain market share, the owner needed a way to automate the posting and filtering of certain coupons.

You did an amazing job on Coupon Craze.

Matthew Schwartz, Founder, Chief Creative Officer, MSDS

A new sitemap was devised, consisting of both categorization pages as well as merchant pages. Each page of the site has the ability to “feature” certain coupons, which are chosen automatically or overridden by an administrator. We leveraged Drupal to aggregate new coupons, categorizing and qualifying them automatically, as well as weeding out any duplicates as they come in. Due to the high volume of content on every page, we implemented a performance plan that met stringent testing requirements.

“There are always bumps along the way in a project this complex, but we took them in stride and did what we had to to get it done. You should all give yourselves a serious pat on the back. For a small team we kicked some serious ass on this. Thanks.”

Matthew Schwartz, Founder, Chief Creative Officer, MSDS

Coupon Craze is now positioned well for the future. SEO value, site speed, and depth of content have all improved. The automated workflows now allow the operators more time for social media ventures and blogging.

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Continuous delivery to the council.

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

We’ve been proud of our long standing support to the CIO Executive Council, a subsidiary of the International Data Group (IDG).

Their flexibility has allowed me to interact with them as an ad-hoc branch of my own IT department, responding to projects and help-desk issues with equal competency.

Steve Wills, Sr. Manager, Applications Development at the CIO Executive Council at IDG

How we did it

We enjoy working as a team to deliver on our full service commitments.

We deliver a range of expertise to provide solutions for things like integrating with SalesForce to pull in membership data, integrating for set automated set up of group based content access on their subscriptions driven web service. Another example, moving them to a highly available, scalable cloud based infrastructure with Apache Solr and high performance caching technologies.

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Blackboard’s shift to a solution-driven digital experience

Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Jeff Landfried
  • Art Director
    Colin Panetta

Blackboard is the largest education technology company in the world, serving nearly 100 million users in every region of the globe. Their comprehensive suite of products and services power institutions looking to teach, engage their community and provide a dynamic educational experience to students. 

Blackboard is an innovative, fast-moving organization, and their digital marketing tools needed to support that. To drive their next phase of growth, Blackboard engaged Last Call Media to build a global marketing platform on Drupal 8. The ability to iterate quickly, launch new marketing campaigns, and spin up sites in new regions is crucial for the Blackboard team. Ultimately moving faster means a better chance of competing against an increasing number of competitors. 

Last Call Media set out to help Blackboard test and implement a bold new approach to digital marketing, and as a result, transformed the way Blackboard.com reached and engaged educators.

Surfacing Blackboard’s value proposition in the main navigation

The largest opportunity with the new global marketing platform was shifting how Blackboard connected with its prospective customers.

Originally, a prospective customer’s journey would begin with selecting their industry to dive deeper into a plethora of information about the different products and services. This experience was informative, but it didn’t make it clear that Blackboard’s competitive edge is not in any one individual product but rather in the interconnectedness of their various products, and how they come together to build a dynamic educational ecosystem, regardless of a customer’s industry. We worked with Blackboard to transition from an industry-focused navigation, originally:

To journeys that surface Blackboard’s value streams first: Teaching & Learning, Community Engagement, and Consulting Services. 

Given the importance of Blackboard.com as a marketing tool to drive revenue, we knew we needed to test our efforts in order to identify any usability issues before the site went live. To do this, we conducted in-person user testing at Blackboard’s annual user convention, BbWorld. We gained valuable insight that informed the final structure of the site navigation. Having positive and constructive real-world user feedback was essential in gaining stakeholder buy-in on this new approach. 

Now, Blackboard.com with its revised primary navigation helps connect prospective customers to the different ways Blackboard provides value to its customers. 

Empowering global marketers through a consistent UX 

Prior to the new platform, one of the major challenges Blackboard’s marketers had with the former Tridion content management system was efficiency. In the past, every page needed to be built manually by Blackboard’s internal web team. Marketers used to submit a form to the web team. Often faced with a backlog several weeks long, the web team created it from scratch as soon as possible. A draft page would be created, sent back to the marketer, and any edits would be returned in a document. This could take several days at best to release a new page or changes to an existing page. 

Blackboard marketers can now add and edit content easily while remaining on brand and demonstrating Blackboard’s impact around the globe.

After understanding this process, the different types of content needed and ways that content can be presented to support the new user journeys, we delivered a collection of over a dozen flexible components. Now marketers worldwide are able to create and edit pages on their own, reducing time to market and costs, and the web team is able to focus on other higher value-creating activities. 

Powered by a modern CMS, Drupal 8  

Blackboard needed an enterprise-grade CMS that was capable of scaling to meet their increasing marketing needs while also remaining easy for their content authors to manage. Drupal was a great choice for Blackboard as it enabled them to respond and make content and code-level changes quickly, including introducing new functionality.

The next iteration of the Blackboard brand, supported by a pattern library

The new platform provided an opportunity to rethink how Blackboard uses space and colors so their digital properties are more consistent in look, feel, and structure to their products. 

Blackboard started using color more sparingly and with greater purpose, and the new platform better utilizes white space and reserves color to truly highlight the content Blackboard wants to bring front and center. Subtle variations in the “Call-to-Action” button styles were added to make it clearer to the site visitor what the next step is. With the new platform, Blackboard has removed many of the bright yellow buttons and softened their approach and introduced a few more “friendlier” color options to their web palette. The outcome here is that Blackboard.com, the flagship marketing platform looks and feels consistent with Blackboard’s products and services. 

A globally consistent brand experience with localized messaging   

As a global company, Blackboard’s marketing team needs to be able to quickly position their products and services to customers in those markets directly, in their language. Further, Blackboard’s marketing and content strategy varies per market and therefore often by language. Simply translating pages into different languages was not sufficient given it’s often the case that not all products and services are available in all markets, and even when they are they are often positioned differently. A product may be marketed differently in Spain and in Germany while also not being available in Australia, for example, which means we needed a different approach to translation that supported localization. Blackboard’s new Drupal 8 site had to not only provide content in different languages but also content specific to each visitor’s geographic location. 

To support this, we built a Global Site feature in the new Blackboard.com that allows the Blackboard marketing team to spin up and manage new sites in different languages quickly without the need to engage development. At launch, this included close to two dozen sites in around 14 different languages.

We extended Drupal 8 core’s translate functionality to support the variations in language between American English and Queen’s English and Latin American and Castilian Spanish while maintaining flexibility so that content could also be localized for different regions. 

Blackboard’s requirements were complex and caused us to rethink our typical multilingual strategy. Instead of creating a site that supports content in multiple languages, we built a localization platform that takes into account available product offerings as well as language and regional nuance - creating a platform for an organization that is not only multilingual but truly global.

A commitment to web accessibility 

Blackboard and Last Call Media share a commitment to ensuring what we create is fully accessible to all audiences, regardless of ability. To that end, we had accessibility needs in mind from the very beginning. Our cross-functional approach to product development meant that we were able to validate early on that our work would meet WCAG 2.1 minimums, and by engaging users of assistive technology to assist with testing as development progressed, we knew that the release would also be truly usable on day one. 

Our initial objective was to help Blackboard respond faster to changing customer demands worldwide by improving the content authoring experience for their marketing team, empowering their internal development teams to sustain and iterate on the platform for the long haul, and reducing operating costs. 

With input from Blackboard’s customers and employees, we led the delivery of an improved user experience for Blackboard’s community, created a platform to showcase their products and services, and helped Blackboard tell the story of how they continue to positively impact learners, educators, and institutions around the globe.

The relaunched Blackboard.com saw a decreased bounce rate on the homepage, more users finding their destination quickly, and a dramatic increase in traffic to the free trial page. The new flexible, modern, engagement platform for Blackboard is more a customer-focused digital experience and supports their current and future marketing objectives. It has helped Blackboard thrive in a constantly changing and increasingly competitive edtech environment.

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Bringing buyers and sellers closer together.

Processes
  • Agile/Kanban
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Jeff Landfried
  • Senior Development
    Daniel Stafford

As the world’s largest independent marketplace for digital advertising, AppNexus delivers powerful enterprise technology for buyers and sellers of digital ads. The marketing team at AppNexus needed a robust digital platform to communicate their value, experience, and products to bring potential ad buyers and sellers together to support their goal of creating a better internet.

After the completion of a series of creative exercises, the LCM team delivered a modern, dynamic, global rebrand of AppNexus.com in fewer than 5 weeks. The platform tested well with key audiences and led to tangible positive business outcomes for AppNexus, including helping facilitate their multibillion-dollar acquisition by AT&T

Theming swiftly and efficiently with components 

One of the major outcomes of this project was a dynamic yet simple to use site building experience for content authors and theming experience for front-end developers. A component-based approach allows AppNexus to browse a library of reusable content patterns to build pages that are on-brand throughout the site while also making it easier for front-end developers to implement creative feedback. 

Using Mannequin, our component library tool, the front end team was able to focus on standard front end technology without worrying about CMS implementation details to quickly theme the front end using paragraphs. This was useful as many of the front end developers on the team were not familiar with Drupal but were able to theme parts of the site easily using Mannequin. 

The homepage animations, a critical piece to the visual experience, were delivered by the front end team who used particles.js. 


Managing first impressions and talent recruitment in one spot

To support their rapid growth strategy, AppNexus needed a robust careers section, “Life at AppNexus”. The careers section highlights the authentic employee experience at AppNexus, the various teams, the application process, and clear calls to action to their Applicant Tracking System (ATS), COMPAS, which is embedded in the Drupal CMS. Job applications are pulled in from COMPAS. With this new talent acquisition initiative in place, AppNexus is able to efficiently promote itself as a desirable place to work and creating a positive first impression for prospective candidates, leading to increased direct hires. 

Increasing analytical visibility using Marketo

By implementing a Marketo integration that sends form responses directly into predefined workflows in AppNexus’ CRM, we were able to give more visibility into valuable business analytics that were not previously captured. AppNexus was also able to utilize their content more effectively for lead generation, by introducing gated content such as whitepapers.

With multiple vendor involvement and a tight timeline, the AppNexus project had a lot of moving parts from the start. Even with frequent changes, LCM, the creative agency, and AppNexus benefited from a frictionless, highly collaborative, and efficient working relationship, which lead to a compelling and well built finished product. 

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Enabling Pega's developers to confidently and quickly respond to customer feedback

Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Architect
    Rob Bayliss
  • Senior Development
    Chris Shelton

Pegasystems Inc (Pega) is the leader in cloud software for customer engagement and operational excellence. Businesses rely on Pega’s AI-powered software to optimize customer interactions while ensuring their brand promises are kept.

Pega’s development team grew rapidly and was suddenly faced with technical challenges of delivering value to customers confidently and at speed. Pega hired Last Call Media to help improve, automate, and scale their deployment pipelines, and implement DevOps best practices.

After studying Pega’s workflow to identify areas of improvement and discuss pain points, we found that the team’s main challenges were around deployment. Developers did not have a strong sense of confidence in the deployability of the code and team members still relied heavily on manual testing during the development cycle. This caused delays that frustrated the team and impacted the business agility.

We all agreed that the development team should be able to write automated tests to rely less on tedious manual testing. With this goal in mind, we looked into removing blockers for the Pega team.

The development team should be able to write automated tests to rely less on tedious manual testing.

Pega’s hosting provider at that time was making it prohibitively expensive to spin up the desired number of environments to test on, meaning, we had to find a cost-effective solution to spin up and spin down environments to enable automated testing. Providing those initial environments would also unlock the ability to demo and review work more easily before deploying to production.

Pega is a highly technical group and we wanted to fully empower them to do their best work confidently. After reviewing and discussing internally and with Pega all of the various options on the market and the costs associated, we chose to develop a custom solution built on Kubernetes in AWS. We made sure that all configuration of the entire system was built with Terraform and in a Github repository, meaning anybody on Pega’s team could dig into the codebase to understand it and make changes in the future. Fully documenting the new system and how to use it has always been a priority for any client engagement.

Fully documenting the new system and how to use it has always been a priority for any client engagement.

With that foundation set up, we were quickly able to load Pega’s application into Docker images, write sample automated tests and give their development team the ability to deploy an unlimited number of environments, one per Github branch, at a reasonable cost.

 

As a result of our work with Pega, their team gained confidence in its automated building and testing systems to bring the company closer to continuous deployment. Pega can now confidently deliver incremental improvements in small batches. This improved the quality of their product, and helped uncover bugs before they reached production. 

Pega can now confidently deliver incremental improvements in small batches. This improved the quality of their product, and helped uncover bugs before they reached production.

Releasing smaller batches of work led to low-risk deployments and allowed improvements to reach the site’s users faster. Automating testing lowered costs and improved quality. The Pega team was able to rely on computers to do the repetitive tasks computers are good at and freed up Pega team members to do what humans are good at: listening to customers, solving problems, and being creative.

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Generating complex product comparison pages dynamically.

Team Leadership

A major part of the Finder application is how it allows users to discover and compare various products. Finder produces thousands of pages for individual products and pages to help visitors compare two or more products. This historically has meant that Finder needed to create these comparison pages manually in its CMS, WordPress, with the manual help of Finder’s editorial staff. Comparison pages are now built dynamically, without the manual help of Finder’s editorial staff, meaning they can quickly publish all required pages, especially before major events like Black Friday.

Last Call Media developed a new way to quickly and programmatically surface thousands of pages for Finder. All the data for these products is contained in two custom-built APIs, which also pull data from outside APIs. We were able to build out Finder’s APIs and create a custom WordPress plugin to render pages solely from data contained in the APIs.

This means that editors no longer need to create WordPress pages for coupon pages, allowing Finder to quickly enable hundreds of coupon pages in time for Black Friday, decreasing costs associated with publishing efforts, and increasing revenue by having more coupon pages up faster.

In addition to the coupon pages, work was done expand this system to replace Finder’s manually created pages that compare two currencies. By replacing these pages with API-backed pages, Finder can reduce costs and increase accuracy, as well as develop centralized templates for displaying the information which will allow for quick, global changes and unify the design of these pages.

Now Finder can move faster and provide visitors the freshest information.

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Localization means more than multilingual.

Processes
  • Agile/Kanban
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Architect
    Jeff Landfried

Blackboard is a global education technology company whose product offerings differ in various parts of the world, and in different languages. In order to provide relevant information for site visitors in different markets Blackboard’s new Drupal 8 site had to not only provide content in different languages, but also content specific to each visitor’s geographic location. It also needed to be faster and cheaper for Blackboard to spin up sites of varying complexity in new markets. 

Profile picture for user Jeff

Goals

The goal of localization for Blackboard’s corporate site was to provide site visitors from around the world with content specific to their region in their region’s language. This means that in addition to displaying content in different languages, we also needed to be able to incorporate regional and dialect-specific (think “color” vs “colour”) versions of content. Also, since not all product offerings are available in every region we needed region-specific navigation as well (to avoid linking to irrelevant content for some users). All of this variation needed to exist between each regional site while allowing some content types to be shared across each region, such as dynamic “resources”, “case studies” and partner content.

Implementation

Location Detection: Not only did we need to provide the ability to display regional content, we also wanted users to be aware of it. In order to do this, we use Acquia’s GeoIP service in order to determine where the user is visiting from. If their country doesn’t match the regional content that they are viewing, we present a modal dialog to show them that we have a section of the site that may be better suited for them. Once they either follow the link or indicate that they are happy where they are we set a cookie so that they don’t continually see the alert. If they leave the section that they have selected, we again alert them but provide the option to stay where they have navigated to.

Regional Sections: In order to provide the regional sections of the site we relied heavily on the “group” module. Each region is a “group” entity, with its own content. We have several “group-level” fields that allow us to define things like language, navigation menus that will appear in each section for each group, region-specific 4xx error pages, and the alias that serves as the beginning of the alias for each page belonging to the group.

Each page node is a part of exactly one group. There may be pages in different groups with similar titles and content, but this model allowed us to have content in the same language and still handle regional colloquialisms, dialects, etc. While the distinct page nodes were distinct for each region, we still had to recognize that there were some types of content had to be reused across regional sections, because creating new educational resource nodes with identical content for each region would not be sustainable. Those content types are allowed to belong to multiple groups. Content listings are built in a way so that they only display content that belongs to the regional section that is currently being viewed.

Multilingual: Possibly the most obvious part of localization is enabling content to be displayed in multiple languages. Drupal’s standard multilingual functionality doesn’t really play nicely with a content model that supports multiple versions (product pages can vary between markets) of content in the same language (think spelling differences between American and British English). In order to accommodate the model Blackboard required, we decided to use Drupal’s language modules, but to leave content translation out of the equation. Instead, we would create different nodes for each language that content was to be displayed in. From the administrative side this approach caused us to lose the “translate” operation for nodes, but in turn gave us a huge amount of flexibility. We were still able to create a site that supports content being entered in 10+ languages (including RTL languages like Arabic), and accommodate localized nuance for each region as well.

 

Blackboard’s requirements were complex, and caused us to rethink our typical multilingual strategy. Instead of creating a site that supports content in multiple languages, the approach that was taken here grants the internal team at Blackboard to create their new regional sections on their site, taking into account available product offerings as well as language and regional nuance - creating a platform for a site that is not only multilingual, but truly global.