The office of the Mayor of London approached Browser for help updating and refreshing the London Business Hub platform. The platform hosts thousands of articles and event listings and is a valuable resource for London based small and medium-sized business.
During the refresh, the product was to migrate from a complicated WordPress deployment based on proprietary themes and plugins to a flexible, open-source WordPress deployment utilising trusted well-supported plugins and themes.
The key objectives for the client were:
- Overhaul and simplify the Byzantine article tagging structure to improving site search performance and article recommendations.
- Reduce long-term site support costs by migrating to off-the-shelf theming and layout plugins.
The project started with a technical discovery process. What we found was not pretty.
Years of numerous article and event authors creating tags and categories on an individual, ad-hoc basis had created a sprawling mass of thousands of article tags and categories. Over 90% of these data points were only used once, making them useless for their intended purpose of linking users to related articles or events. Some articles had zero tags, some had thirty. Some tags were single words, while some were full-sentence descriptions of the article topic.
Condensing and clarifying these article metadata into a relevant and usable information architecture, without losing meaning or valuable contextual links between articles was key to the success of this migration project.
To do this we used TextRazor (an AI-based natural language processing platform) to help group the thousands of keywords and phrases by context. Then, in conjunction with client stakeholders, we were able to condense the terms within these context groups down into root keywords. We repeated the process three times until the keyword library was reduced to a manageable size, with further, ad-hoc edits carried out by the client team.
Alongside revising the platform’s information architecture, our team overhauled the design and layout framework of the site. We migrated the client away from an inflexible, proprietary layout theme to a theme utilising Advanced Custom Fields templates (ACF). This plugin is powerful, well supported and flexible, and allows the client to easily edit page layout elements without having to contract development resource; a major saving in terms of both time and budget for the client.
During implementation, our team was subject to the extraordinary events and restrictions of 2020. Put simply, we’d never had to complete a project under such conditions before.
This makes us all the more proud that the migration implementation ran on time and on budget, despite the COVID based restrictions our team operated under. As a team that was already half remote before the pandemic, we were well set up to adapt to the crisis. Indeed, we were able to support and educate our client in their ability to manage and oversee the project remotely, introducing them to remote working platforms such as Slack, Basecamp and Trello.
Since the site migration average dwell time and pageviews have climbed by 42% and 29% respectively, showing users are more engaged with the platform.
As the pandemic progressed and it became clear that the London Business Hub would be required to take a frontline roll in supporting SMB’s through the crisis, other success criteria became apparent. Mayor of London staff were able to quickly add a COVID-19 support portal to the hub, without having to pay (or wait) for outside development help thanks to the flexibility of the ACF based build. Demand for the pandemic support funding initiatives launched through the platform was huge, and the site coped with the spike in traffic without a problem.