MSI Global Alliance - a Codehouse Umbraco case study

Codehouse develop Umbraco website for MSI Global Alliance.

Codehouse develop Umbraco website with custom ASP.NET development.

Codehouse develop Umbraco website with custom ASP.NET development.

Brief

MSI Global Alliance (MSI) wanted to appoint an experienced technical partner to help them develop their main website and regional microsite in Australia and New Zealand. They required a reliable, highly skilled and trusted Umbraco Solutions Partner with experience and technical expertise in developing Umbraco content managed websites in a multi-site environment.

Codehouse was therefore chosen to restyle and develop the MSI website on the Umbraco CMS platform. Using existing Codehouse modules and some bespoke custom development, Codehouse integrated with MSI's existing .NET based infrastructure to re-develop their new Umbraco website.

Our brief was to create an updated and relevant online presence for MSI Global Alliance. MSI wanted us to convert their existing site into a feature rich environment using an ‘out-of-the-box’ open source CMS that facilitated smooth integration and data exchange between the Umbraco CMS and Pivotal CRM to provide up-to-the-minute information to MSI’s members’ area, “MemberLink.”

MSI required a much improved user experience for their existing members. In addition, they asked for enhanced administrative functions with the aim of enabling ‘non-technical’ MSI staff to be more flexible and responsive to market conditions by better managing the content of the site.

Execution

A series of workshops broken down into key discussion points took place during a Discovery Phase. The workshops were designed to determine important aspects of the two main development phases of the new Umbraco website, including the creation of individual yet flexible templates with a fresh design, whilst customising existing widgets to display dynamic data like latest news and blog posts. Those functions that required re-development and a re-design in order to improve their visual impact and functionality were also addressed.

Ensuring smooth integration and data exchange between the Umbraco CMS and Pivotal CRM was a challenging element to this project.  In the previous website’s configuration, data exchange from and to the “MemberLink” user controls was not as efficient as it could have been. The reason for this was two-fold: (1) a vast quantity of data was being stored in the ASP.NET session which significantly reduced website performance, and (2) there was no discernible structure to the way data was stored and subsequently delivered back to users who entered search queries in the “MemberLink” page.

To overcome these issues Codehouse developed a bespoke ASP.NET solution that involved the restructuring and re-development of MSI's “MemberLink”.

Firstly, Codehouse restructured the connection to MSI's database by developing a Caching Layer. This Caching Layer, a repository base that stores members' Personal, Company and Location information, sits between MSI's databases and the Member Page base. With this new configuration, whenever a member enters a search query the system first looks at the Caching Layer. If queried data has been previously cached it will be presented to the user. If however, data is not in the Caching Layer, then MSI's databases will be searched, and the results cached in the appropriate repository for future use, and of course presented to the user. Whereas previously there was a lot of data stored in the ASP.NET session clogging performance now, with our expert ASP.NET team having developed the Caching layer, the speed of the ASP.NET session has significantly improved.

Secondly, Codehouse re-developed MSI's “MemberLink” section which included the re-design of Individual and Company profile pages. In addition Codehouse refined the search functionality by using Lucene Search with an improved two level Taxonomy based on a scoring system which rates each member based on their speciality (or Practice area).

The Codehouse Umbraco development team delivered the project using Agile Project Management Methodology, whereby features and functions for delivery were broken down into shorter development cycles called sprints.

Results

Re-launched on the Umbraco CMS and tailored using existing custom developments, the site now benefits from refined and robust integration points with Pivotal CRM. MSI's re-styled and sleek website design includes a revised “MemberLink” area, easier navigation, rich media, page commenting, 301 re-directs, blogging, improved social media integration, improved taxonomy/search and caching, news listings with date filtering, and a two level scoring mechanism based on areas of expertise. The home page includes a content managed jQuery powered slider that displays blog posts and showcases the benefits offered by MSI. The finished site also includes side bar and widget areas, RSS feeds, and social sharing buttons.

Giles Brake, marketing consultant to MSI, commented: “Codehouse have taken what was a complex technical brief, made it clear and intelligible, and achieved it on time and within budget. The changes put in place over the last 9 months in two separate but linked projects, have created a website and members area that sets MSI apart from its peers and allows the organisation to maximise the usefulness of its greatest asset – the knowledge and skills of its lawyer and accountant members in 105 countries. Codehouse have been a delight to work with.”

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MSI Global Alliance - a Codehouse Umbraco case study

About MSI Global Alliance

MSI Global Alliance (www.msiglobal.org) was founded in 1990 and is a leading international association of independent professional services firms. MSI is a Top 20 ranked (global) professional services organisation with 250 independent, mid-size member firms in 105 countries.

About Codehouse

Codehouse is a Microsoft Gold Partner focusing on web development on the .NET platform and in Sitecore and Umbraco content management systems. We are proud to be one of the most experienced Umbraco and Sitecore Solution Partners worldwide

We want to make sure you get the best out of Umbraco CMS. That is why we offer expert Umbraco specific services that range from consultancy and training to maintenance, migration and support.  If you're looking for a flexible and focused Umbraco Partner then get in touch.