We have been remarkably quiet in updating you all on the progress to date with the new site and the things we have planned for the future and the timelines we are working towards. This is a brief summary of what has happened so far in the implementation of the new site.
September – October 2018
As announced in our latest update, we have selected a new CMS (Drupal), a new cloud infrastructure provider (Acquia) and hired an external partner to help us with the implementation of the new site (Manifesto). Throughout this process we have had extensive engagement with our procurement, information governance and IT colleagues who have done an amazing job helping us navigate procurement and data security requirements to ensure we have contracts, security and the support we need. For those going through similar things, I cannot stress enough the importance of engaging early and regularly with your colleagues in these departments during this process.
November – December 2018
As many who have read previous posts will know, we spent a lot of time researching the problems we face and starting to develop prototype solutions. This helped us expedite the post contract implementation award, but given the large amount of information we gathered, we had to spend time putting it all together and designing an implementation plan for the next few months. This is where the help of an outside agency proved invaluable in helping us dig deeper into the foundational requirements and order we need to deliver items to meet the milestones we have defined.
January – March 2019
Most of our time this year has been spent implementing that plan which, while intense, has been hugely rewarding to see all the hard work the team has put in so far starting to come together into a tangible product. If you think of building a site much like building a lego house, the last three months (and most of the next three months) have been spent planning what kind of bricks we want to have and how they all fit together. These bricks include:
- The digital infrastructure, version control, continuous integration systems and code governance practices.
- The overall content model that defines the types of content we need and the relationships they have between them.
- The structure and design language that will be implemented throughout the site that gives us the consistency we need to emphasize our brand and its values throughout our pages.
At the beginning of the project we decided not to launch the site with a big bang. At the time of this writing, we have over 20,000 content items on the current corporate site and attempting to migrate everything at once would require a much longer wait before launching, as well as large resource implications to keep things in sync between the current and development sites. We will therefore be looking to start the rollout of the new site in July with a phased rollout thereafter. Our goal is to try and retire the old site towards the end of 2020. Our milestones in the next couple of months are these.
- March 2019 – First Beta version – Reached up!
This is primarily an internal launch that helps us demonstrate the infrastructure and development processes.
- April 2019 – Second Beta release
We will be looking to make it more widely available to a select internal audience to allow them to get a better idea of how the site will be structured and look like, as well as engage our testing community to start squashing bugs.
- July 2019 – First release