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Reimagined on Drupal 8, in six sprints.
Rainforest Alliance
Processes
  • Agile/Kanban
  • Agile/Scrum
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

In the fall of 2016, the Rainforest Alliance and Last Call Media launched an exciting redesign of www.rainforest-alliance.org, built on Drupal 8, employing seasoned agile software development methodologies. Our productive partnership with the Rainforest Alliance resulted in a technically groundbreaking site that allowed users unprecedented access to the riches of their content after just four months of development.  The tool is now primed to drive the Rainforest Alliance’s critical end-of-year development activities. 

People seem really, really happy with it. YAY!!

Danielle Cranmer, Web Manager

How we did it

Over the years, RA has cultivated a repository of structured content to support their mission. While the content is primarily displayed as long form text, there is a wide variety of metadata and assets associated with each piece of content.  One of the primary goals of the new site was to enable discovery of new content on the site through automatic selection of related content driven by the metadata of the content the user was viewing.  Additionally, RA had a future requirement for advanced permissioning and publishing workflows to enable stakeholders outside of the web team to play a role in the content lifecycle.

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Drupal 8 was selected for this project based on several factors.  First, its focus on structured data fit well with Rainforest Alliance’s need for portable and searchable content.  Second, the deep integrations with Apache Solr allowed for a nuanced content relation engine.  Solr was also used to power the various search interfaces.  Third, Drupal has historically had powerful workflow tools for managing content.  While these tools weren’t quite ready for Drupal 8 when we built it, we knew they would be simple to integrate when they were ready.  In short, Drupal was a perfect fit for the immediate needs, and Drupal 8 met the organization’s longer term goals.
 

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Kelly Albrecht
Senior Digital Producer

We've been getting lots or praise, internally and externally.  Brava, team!

Melissa Normann, Senior Manager Web Strategy and Development

At the close of Sprint 6, there were zero critical and only 3 moderate issues. The final Sprint/Project review had only 3 support questions, launching as arguably the most impressive Drupal 8 site launched within a year of the initial release this latest major version on the Open Source CMS, and most importantly in time for Rainforest Alliance's major end-of-year donation campaign. The site delivers on its promise to showcase the Rainforest Alliance’s exciting and informative messages and beautiful imagery, and stands as testimony for the efficacy of the agile approach.

Read the full case study here.

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Drilling down to an education.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

Education sites are huge with a lot of information. Additionally, there are many different personas who frequent these sites looking for a wide variety of resources.

After getting the right personas to the right area of the site, faceted searching was one of the solutions implemented to help visitors drill down further into the specifics. In this case it was the areas of study.

How we did it

We developed a faceted search tool for their degree and certificates catalog to solve the challenge of drilling down through the options to get to a specific areas of study. By structuring and categorizing the information of this catalog appropriately in the database, we were able to implement faceted searching functionality for the areas of study across Bachelor, Minor, Certificate, Master and PhD.

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Sean Eddings
Senior Producer & Agile Coach

Site visitors are able to use this implementation to drill down to very information. This work has in turn substantially increased engagement as well as conversions.

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Custom tailoring Haverford.edu.
Haverford College
Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

When LCM got the call from Haverford about redoing their site in Drupal, we thought it was going to be a redesign. After initial conversation we agreed to do a Discovery and Strategy engagement first to determine what the true needs were and then develop a strategy for solutions. We conducted stakeholder interviews and developed the User Personas of who our work was to be for. Interestingly, none of these personas ended up being anonymous site visitor, but instead were different types of content editors and administrators.

How we did it

Haverford didn’t need a redesign; their site looked great already. The biggest issue they needed to solve was not having enough time to do new feature development themselves. They were a smart and capable team and over many years had developed and maintained a large custom PHP implementation for college’s website needs. They were finding, however, that too much of their time was being spent updating pages for college members and groups. Their hope was for us to build them a site that looked and functioned like their current site, but built on a modern CMS with exceptional user management and publishing workflows.

Once we had alignment on their needs and a strategy for solutions, we built out a Content Model, Product Backlog, and Information Architecture. The project was completed with Drupal, in steady collaboration with the Communications team, in 5 development Sprints and launched on the Acquia Infrastructure.

The Haverford Team really jumped in and took off with it. It was really great!

You can read more about this project as LCM’s Acquia Certified Grand Master Developer, Jeff Landfried shares details of his experience here.

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Kelly Albrecht
Senior Digital Producer

Since then, Last Call Media has continued to work with Haverford on an ongoing basis as part of our dedicated Continuous Delivery relationship - where our dedicated team of developers helps to keep their site secure, up-to-date, and assists as needed with anything from strategy to design to development.

The migration of Haverford to Drupal on Acquia remains one of our favorite projects to date, and it's a great source of professional pride for all of us.  We look forward to a long partnership with Haverford as we continuously evaluate how their online experience is meeting the needs of the College.  

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A modern site home to the treasures of the world.
Material & Visual Cultures of Religion
Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings

Aligning an aging website with modern organizational goals. The Center of the Material and Visual Cultures of Religion (MAVCOR) at Yale University sought the expertise of LCM to help bring their aging website in line with their strategic organizational goals. As an online archive of objects of religion, often accompanied by narratives or conversations, the academic source will behave like an online museum: delivering the user to the content in the most unobstructed way so they can focus on it.

Much like a museum would, it’ll recommend related content for further exploration.

How we did it

MAVCOR is a unique peer reviewed publication and community that gathers visual culture and hosts multidisciplinary collaborations of scholars from around the globe. This necessitates a virtual space that is the only one of its kind. Previously confined to the Yale departmental design template, MAVCOR came to us to design and develop a Drupal 7 site to enhance functionality of their user experience, robust asset management and spotlight their obvious visual culture.

LCM partnered with the MAVCOR team to develop new and enhanced functionality to their Fellow’s Portal, Asset Management, Material Objects Archive, and Search in a visually centric design honoring their unique and growing community.

The new MAVCOR is a literal and virtual center of publicly accessible collaborative scholarship.

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Sean Eddings
Senior Producer & Agile Coach
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Drill down to savings.
Coupon Craze
Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Development
    Rob Bayliss

Coupon Craze needed to provide their site visitors an intuitive way

 

Coupon Craze had a lot of information. Additionally, there are many different personas who frequented the site looking for specific coupons from within a wide variety.

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

How we did it

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.

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Kelly Albrecht
Senior Digital Producer

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

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Content discovery through faceted search.
Asia Society
Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Kelly Albrecht
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

Asia Society needed to provide their visitors an intuitive way to find and explore content relevant to their interests.

Asia Society is a very large implementation with a lot of information. Additionally, there are many different personas who frequent these sites looking to find and explore content relevant to their interests.

After getting the right personas to the right area of the site, faceted searching was one of the solutions implemented to help visitors drill down further into the specifics.

How we did it

We developed a faceted search tool to solve the challenge of drilling down through the options to get to specific content. By structuring and categorizing the content appropriately in the database, we were able to implement faceted searching functionality, not only for the desired site section, but for other microsites as well.

Profile picture for user Kelly
Kelly Albrecht
Senior Digital Producer

Site visitors are able to use this implementation to drill down to very specific content. This work has in turn substantially increased engagements.

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Leveraging our Scaffolding and Drupal 8.
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • 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.

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Sean Eddings
Senior Producer & Agile Coach

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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National Census of Writing.
Swarthmore College
Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

In the midst of sorting massive amounts of data for the National Census of Writing, Jill Gladstein of the Swarthmore College English Department called on Last Call Media to create a usable web data explorer for use by the general public and qualified researchers alike. Survey data was collected from respondents from over 900 higher education institutions. Census questions gathered data about curricular, administrative, and support structures of writing programs in the United States from March 2013 to October 2014.

How we did it

Census data is extremely important for the Higher Ed community, but the information is only as good as it is accessible. Working closely with the Swarthmore staff, LCM pinpointed what information was the most critical and sought after by administrators and researchers viewing the data. Graphs were designed to optimally visualize survey question responses and search functionality created to easily explore by survey question, institution type and related filters.

 

 

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Sean Eddings
Senior Producer & Agile Coach

The first iteration of the site launched in time for Swarthmore to unveil its functionality at the Council of Writing Program Administrators 2015 Conference to great praise. The site, in addition to the program's work, has gone on to be featured in Inside Higher Ed being utilized by the general public, researchers and higher education institutions all over the country and is 508 compliant.

The Census is being utilized in ways we never expected.

Jill Gladstein, Swarthmore College English Department
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Pet Food Microsite: Built in two weeks.
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Processes
  • Agile/Scrum
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • 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.

Profile picture for user Sean
Sean Eddings
Senior Producer & Agile Coach

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 forced us 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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A Drupal 7 Multi-site Migration to Acquia
University of Southern Mississippi
Processes
  • Continuous Delivery
Team Leadership
  • Senior Producer
    Sean Eddings
  • Senior Development
    Jeff Landfried

LCM had the deep level of expertise needed to assist USM with a complex migration to Acquia

In preparation for an upgrade from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8, USM was faced with the need to migrate four Drupal sites based on five codebases from an onsite installation to a hosted environment with Acquia. USM was seeking an experienced group of Drupal architects to work hand-in-hand with their iTech team to determine the necessary functional and configuration changes needed to accomplish the migration. USM had a particular interest in leveraging Acquia’s search capabilities.

The University reached out to Last Call Media to drive the high level technical planning and heavy lifting of a migration to the Acquia Cloud. The University needed a team with platform migration experience to come in and bridge the gap between Acquia and the University’s internal iTech team to ensure that to make sure the launch went smoothly. 

Aside from our experience and planning skills, there were several mission critical pieces of the overall infrastructure that needed to be changed to fit within Acquia’s ecosystem. One of these was the site search. USM had previously used a combination of several open source tools to feed data from several different sources into the site’s search engine. While this solution worked well, it was being cut in favor of Acquia Search, powered by Apache Solr. The University brought us in to build a search platform that would be capable of indexing the content of all of the Drupal sites, and searching either independently (within each site’s own content silo), or across the board. Working closely with the iTech team, we planned and executed the search feature within the new infrastructure, including the configuration of environment specific search, so the University team could iterate and test the site search in the development and staging environments before rolling new features to production. 

The final piece of the puzzle was to bring the site’s performance and security up to Acquia’s standards. We worked hard to make the vast majority of the content cacheable by Acquia’s edge layer, and brought iTech and Acquia representatives together to find resolutions for all of the issues surfaced by Acquia’s Insight reporting. At the end of this process, we performed a successful load test across all 4 sites, effectively proving the sites were ready for launch.

As launch day grew closer, we began to focus on the final details. With iTech’s help, we formulated a simple and clear launch checklist that would keep everyone on the same page when it mattered the most. When the final cutover was finished, we had almost no post-launch issues to address.

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Sean Eddings
Senior Producer & Agile Coach

The work was completed on a timeline that allowed USM to minimize risk by switching to the new site while the University was on break. USM achieved their goal of a smooth migration to Drupal 7 on the Acquia hosting platform with no down time. 

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