New website High Profile Events

Submitted by
Netvlies
The Case
Category
Publishing / Media
Short introduction
With over 50k unique visitors monthly, Events.nl is the main online platform for the event industry. By providing industry news, knowledge, a complete insight in all the relevant event companies and overview of event vacancies, the Events.nl website is a complete and relevant platform for the event industry.
Launch date
Background
The previous website was 17 years old, with a lot of technical and marketing restrictions as a result of its age. Over the years the website evolved into a technical jungle, with the need for a new website in order to remain leading in the industry.

As the new online partner of Events.nl the first challenge was to get to know the industry and audience, to make sure the new website would meet the needs of the target audience. In order to do so we started with a strategic phase where Events.nl and Netvlies combined their knowledge (industry knowledge & online expertise) together zoomed into online goals, (potential) target audience and their customer journeys. The result was a strategic frame and website concept. A solid base for the realization of the new website.
Objectives
The main objective of Events.nl is to generate revenue through the website. To succeed, online goals were defined during the strategic phase:

1. Generating new traffic to Events.nl
Most people within the events industry are aware of the existence of Events.nl. There is of course a gap between awareness, and (daily) visiting the website. By being relevant and up-to-date, and by making an impact on topics that the target group seeks, new and more traffic towards the website will be generated.

2. Increase recurring visits to Events.nl
More than half (55-60%) of the daily visitors, visits the website for the first time. It’s good that the target audience finds the website, but that's just the beginning! By making sure that this new visitor becomes a returning visitor, we can increase website visits and thereby increase advertising revenues.

3. Widening of online revenue
On the previous website, the revenue model consisted of paid banners and company presentations. By focusing more on paid content and vacancies, the revenue model expanded. Due to paid qualitative content, events.nl remains relevant to its visitors, by not disturbing them with too much advertising, and provide its customers with the opportunity to profile themselves more effectively.
Results
The website went live just a couple of months ago, making it too soon to speak of significant results in numbers and percentages.

The focus for the new website is on user experience, readability, mobile friendliness and a clear and visual new style. This is aligned with the needs of the target group. The platform moved towards a news site, making it easier to find and read the latest news and trends in the industry, thus increasing the chance of recurring visits.

The website features opportunities for the customers of Events.nl to profile themselves. Including:
- featured (paid) content throughout the website
- a complete range of all (3800) event suppliers, filterable on categories and region. In order to keep the platform up to date, the supplier has the possibility to adjust and improve their own company presentation, with also the opportunity of adding visual slide shows and cases.
- Relevant advertising. In the previous website, income was mainly generated with banners on the homepage. The new website provides the customers of Events.nl to advertise within specific categories, in order to make their message relevant.
- Since Events.nl is the main platform in the event industry, sharing vacancies is very interesting for both the target audience and Events.nl’s customers. The customers can edit add their vacancies themselves, with the editors of Events.nl only verifying the vacancy.
Technical challenges
The previous website was 17 years old. The website has been expanded several times in these 17 years, which resulted in a complex data structure. In the 17 years the website grew enormously in both content and SEO ranking. In order to maintain the SEO value, we have done research on how to ensure this SEO value.

Part of the solution was a data-import from the old websites to the new platform. Since Netvlies has a lot of experience in building technical connections in Symfony, we have built a hybrid solution, which uses Symfony to load data from various sources (eg via Wordpress API), then cleaned and translated to the new structure. After this, the data will be loaded one-by-one via the Drupal API into the new website. This ensures a good separation of responsibilities, whereby the Drupal developer can fully focus on website development and the Symfony developer on importing data. In total 20.000 webpages were imported from both the previous website and the weblog.

The large amount of data had to be well searchable. This is solved by keeping the main navigation compact, with two well-functioning filters on the ‘news’ and ‘suppliers’ pages. Besides that a fine search feature that distinguishes between the type of content and shows first the most relevant content of companies followed by relevant news items.

Users can log into the website and request an account to add one or more companies and/or upload vacancies. With each creation or custom action that a logged-in user does, the site administrator will receive an email to approve the presentation or vacancy.

The homepage is a combination of content types that loads in different sizes and positions. For example, you have 3 highlighted (mostly paid) news releases that rotate apart from the rest of the content on the page. The highlighted content will eventually (after 3 new highlighted items) be placed between the regular news items. Additionally, banners are being managed in Drupal, being able to place these on specific content types and categories.
Challenges in (combination of) modules
The smaller challenges were solved in combination of existing contrib modules, such as Views, Better exposed filters, taxonomy, for example, to maintain the SEO value and to keep the large amount of data well searchable.

The biggest challenge was importing from an outdated database from a custom built website to Drupal 7. A Symfony developer converted the data from the old database and made it available in objects, so that the Drupal developer could import everything using the Drupal API.

Using different Symfony modules, the Symfony developer made it possible that through a command on the terminal, the import script starts. In this script, the data is collected from different tables with complex sql queries and merged into objects.

After this, the Drupal developer used custom code, to import the data from the objects into the Drupal database through the Drupal API.

Besides the technical challenge of structuring the data from the old database, we also had to take into account how the data was imported into the website. The following functions were created:
- createOrUpdateArticle() - Importing or updating articles
- createOrUpdateListing() - Importing or updating company presentations
- getListing() and createOrUpdateSection() - Importing or updating news segment terms in the sections vocabulary
- createOrUpdateSegment() - Importing or updating company segment terms in the segment vocabulary
- createOrUpdateRegion() - Importing or updating region terms in de regions vocabulary
- createOrUpdateCategory() - Importing or updating category terms in de category vocabulary
- importRedirects() - Imports all redirects from the previous website (every page had at least 2-3 URLs)
- checkIfNodeExists() - Checks if a node already exists based on the unique ID in the old database
- createTerm() - Creates a term in a vocabulary, if it does not exist yet. This also happens based on the ID in the previous website.
Name client
High Profile Events
What does the client think about the project?
Stefan Heerholtz (managing partner):
From now on we are able to target and reach even more visitors, making us even more relevant. We see shifts occurring in the target audiences. One of these is the marketing and communication world. A fairly large group from this field has already found us and returns weekly to Events.nl. This group of visitors will continue to grow strongly. Business events are becoming more and more part of the communication mix.
Screenshot