NCMA Site Part 3: The Developer’s Perspective

Jun 7, 2015 | John Cornelius, Web Development

Coders…this post is for you. For our final blog on the NCMA website upgrade we hear from the Developer’s Perspective, Wide Open Tech developer, Clinton Paquin walks us through the digital elements incorporated into the new Let’s dive in.

SG: What languages, plugins or platforms did Wide Open Tech use for this website upgrade?

CP: We used PHP, MySQL, Javascript, SASS, Expression Engine, and GIT.

Developer's Perspective

SG: NCMA has mentioned that the blog has seen an increase in traffic since it’s launch date. How was the blog built or structured before/after this upgrade?

CP: The blog was previously a WordPress installation. We exported the WordPress blog, then imported the content into Expression Engine to centralize all the code for the site onto a single platform. We optimized post data including titles, descriptions, images, and added better microformats where possible (Eg: date/time). We also reformatted the blog landing page with featured or most-recents posts. Lastly we re-designed blog detail pages to better drive traffic to the content and images that were relevant to the post.

SG: Can you speak a little about this project’s responsive upgrade?

CP: The entire site was updated to Twitter Bootstrap 3.3.1 which is a CSS framework for building responsive websites. In an effort to clean up the code, the dev team moved to unobtrusive Javascript with graceful fallbacks for non-Javascript support.

SG: What tricks or techniques did the dev team incorporate into this upgrade to improve the user experience?

CP: Cleaning up and consolidating the code really helped NCMA improve their page load speeds. We made drastic changes to the navigation and hierarchy of the site to help streamline the content displayed on the site. We also improved the search functionality on the site, which helps users locate their desired content.

Developer's Perspective

SG: This site had a lot of dynamic content and functionality that was spread across multiple servers. How did Wide Open Tech consolidate and organize NCMA resources?

CP: Amazon Web Services’ Cloudfront was used for CDN image delivery. Redis Caching helped with page speed by decreasing response time. Grunt is a Javascript task runner that we used for asset management and deployment. We also incorporated mod_pagespeed, which is an Apache module created by Google to make websites faster. Lastly, the dev team added API integrations for Twitter.

SG: What component or feature of this site are you the most proud of?

CP: I am most proud of our ability to re-engineer the Expression Engine channel structure. This was a little extra work but it will extend NCMA’s legacy system and provide added functionality moving forward.

SG: Have you ever built a website for an art museum before?

CP: First time, but I hope there will be more opportunities.

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