Contemporary Music Centre: Amalgamation of Multiple Systems to One Drupal Platform
CMC.ie (the website of the Contemporary Music Centre) had developed over a 20 year period to be a large mass of integrated (and not-so-integrated) systems and applications, each with their own quirks and peculiarities. Some of these included a custom html website, a Wordpress blog, an e-commerce store, and a very large database of musical recordings with attendant metadata. All-in-all, it made for quite a difficult system to keep control of and more difficult than it was desirable when content updates where needed.
The people at the Contemporary Music Centre came to Annertech to discuss (and then implement) a plan to rationalise the disparate systems into one Drupal platform which would also allow for the addition of new features in the future. We were certainly up to the task.
We initially held a number of meetings with CMC to discuss their present set up: what was used; how it was used; what worked well; what needed improvements; and how all the data was linked together. Once we had a handle on this, we discussed the information that the site needed to portray and the message and tone that CMC wish to portray to their users, leading to a founding content strategy document and, following, an information architecture document and set of wireframes, created by our in-house designer. The documents then formed the basis for the new design for the website.
The backend of the website involves an extremely complex data model. There are quite a number of fields and content types that interact with each other in different, related manners. Though very complex, it does mean that any piece of data only ever needs to be entered once. For example, an 'Item of Work' will reference and/or link to recordings of that work, products in the shop related to it, the composer who created the work, and lots of other metadata. Similarly, if you are on the page of a composer, you will see items of work by that composer and products in the shop related to them. We extended this model to other content types such as 'Events' and 'Features', so events that feature performances of works or composers can dynamically pull in relevant fields from the works and composers' pages. This allows for a very rich tapestry of content, managed canonically from a single source, and easily updated from the CMS backend.
With the backend in progress, we could start migrating the data. The migration became much more complex than initially envisaged, given the complexity of the website we were building and the fact that it was coming from various sources. However, using the Drupal Migrate module and a crack team of migration experts (kudos especially to Andrew Macpherson, our migrations and accessibility expert), we completed the task, leaving the code constructed in such a way that future migrations can be completed as simply as clicking a button.
We're delighted with how this website has finished. The design is a credit to our design team - clean, minimalist, uncluttered - and the implementation shows that Drupal and Annertech make a great team for higly complex data systems and migration of data into these systems.
The solution had to be one which placed our users at the very centre of the experience, and one which presented the content in a way which was easy to navigate and browse. I was extremely impressed by how quickly Annertech got to grips with our systems and how they took the time in getting to understand what we do as an organisation, and what the most important things are for us and our users.