Look.co.uk switches to Drupal; traffic doubles within months

Last week I met with IPC Media in London. With magazines like Nuts, NME, Marie Claire, Country Life and many more, IPC Media is one of the UK's leading publishers.

IPC Media recently converted Look.co.uk from a bespoke ColdFusion platform to Drupal to reduce the site's maintenance cost. When I met with the team, they were very pleased with the fact that it only took a couple of months to redesign the site with Drupal and to migrate all the existing content. But best of all, thanks to Drupal's SEO (Search Engine Optimization), traffic doubled since the site was relaunched in early January. A great example of how you can use Drupal to maximize the power of your website!

Update: two IPC Media employees respond in the comments and provide some extra color; Peter Brady (lead developer look.co.uk) and Anthony Thornton (project manager look.co.uk).
Look co uk

Comments

Dan Frydman (not verified):

That's pretty cool - figures that we've also seen with client sites. Looking forward to the Acquia content migration webinar...

April 7, 2010 - 11:52
Taco (not verified):

Is there an Analytics case study? For example, are this branded or none-branded search terms? Long-tail traffic? Quality of the traffic?

April 7, 2010 - 15:16
Django Beatty (not verified):

I believe that key to this project's success was the decision to minimise bespoke code, instead sticking to tried and trusted existing components. Applying this discipline has the effect of moving project focus away from technical implementation (with its associated risk), and firmly towards achieving editorial and business values. I think this is a common theme in publishing, where content is typically the core area of business, and it is why we are seeing an industry-wide move towards Drupal.

April 7, 2010 - 17:00
bertboerland (not verified):

Guess when the Wereldomroep switched to Drupal? :-)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bertboerland/4112118473/

April 7, 2010 - 20:52
Peter Brady (not verified):

Hey. Appreciate the mention, Dries.

Using an Acquia Drupal installation profile, core and contrib modules, one custom module, a 'from scratch' front-end theme, and a custom php screen-scraper script, we were able to:

1: Build a brand new site with very little custom code (only the basics - a few form alters and a few tweaks to node_gallery module)

2: To make the editorial content management processes as quick and simple as possible

3: To migrate all legacy content with minimal 404's at site re-launch

4: To improve site SEO by working with a top front-end guy. He really knows his semantics and we let the markup dictate the Drupal theme instead of the other way around.

All the above was achieved in an extremely short time frame - the fastest site re-lauch IPC have ever done, I believe. All with just one front-end guy and one Drupal guy (that's me ;)

The Look project reaffirms my long-held belief that Drupal sites should be built, not coded. The Acquia Drupal installation profiles (and a little configuration), for example, can get the plumbing for most of the sites I come across 70-80% done. After that, it's mostly theming, and any edge case tweaks/alterations that happen to come along.

Many thanks.

April 8, 2010 - 01:40
Anthony Thornton (not verified):

Hey Dries

It's great to see the work put into Look appreciated - thanks for highlighting it. I thought it would be good to clear up a couple of confusions around the project and add to Peter's insight.

Firstly, we didn't choose Drupal to reduce the maintenance cost, we chose it after reviewing a number of options and decided it was the most appropriate for Look.

The reason it took such a short amount of time was due to the clarity of vision of the editorial, design and technical team and the way they worked together. Drupal was useful but, as you know, any project stands and falls by the quality of the people involved.

Finally while drupal's SEO plug-in was useful, it was a contributory factor. Look's traffic doubling was due to the brilliant content, front-end coding, editing, extensive research into the market and keywords, coupled with an expert application of usability.

I'm glad to say that every single one of the small team involved in the site are completely at the top of their game and the communication between the various disciplines (technical and non-technical) was exemplary.

On this project Drupal proved to be a good choice as it helped facilitate the expertise we had, but without the knowledge, talent and skill we wouldn't have had such a successful website.

Anthony

April 9, 2010 - 10:27
Anonymous (not verified):

Way to give credit to everyone EXCEPT Drupal ...

April 11, 2010 - 07:46
Anthony Thornton (not verified):

I really enjoyed using Drupal. I think it was great for this project. So credit to Drupal and to everyone else.

Anthony

April 12, 2010 - 12:51
Yann (not verified):

I totally agree with you. I'm gonna launch a website and learn Drupal for it. manakh

April 15, 2010 - 10:50
Dries:

Firstly, we didn't choose Drupal to reduce the maintenance cost, we chose it after reviewing a number of options and decided it was the most appropriate for Look.

When I talked to Iain Hughes (Technical Project Manager) and Neil Robinson (Digital Director) they both mentioned maintenance cost as the reason to move away from a bespoke ColdFusion application. It looks like different people have a different view on this. This is not a surprise given that each of these people have different roles and responsibilities, and therefore a slightly different angle on the situation. Either way, I apologize if I painted an incomplete picture, and I certainly value your perspective from the project management side. Thanks! I certainly agree with you that having a great team is critical to success -- I think this is true for almost everything in life/business.

April 11, 2010 - 13:25
2Stroke (not verified):

Interesting to read the rather sensitive response from the guys at Look. I do think that Drupal contributed enormously to the site's success and that, for all your conciliatory comments Dries, the technical foundations on which the site was based were as important, if not more so, than the team who implemented. People you can buy, Drupal you can't!!

February 25, 2011 - 15:09

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