Her Campus Media

Migrating a large legacy website from Drupal to WordPress

HerCampus.com is the #1 online publication for college women in the US. When the business outgrew its Drupal website the team enlisted our help in replatforming to a high performance WordPress publishing platform.

The biggest benefit of working with The Code Company was getting direct access to a team with such immense publishing experience. They’ve become a strategic sounding board for all of our decisions. It’s had a huge impact on the business.”

Dave Lievense, Director of Product Engineering & IT

Her Campus Media

THE CHALLENGE

Outgrowing Drupal

The original Her Campus website was built in 2009 on Drupal 7. It had low CLS scores and was struggling to provide the speed or editorial tools required of a modern media organisation.

After assessing their publishing CMS options, the team realised that WordPress offered a better solution for their business needs.

“It took too much time and resources to try and use Drupal to power our content-driven website and add even simple features.  

Drupal is clearly focused on large institutions that can deal with the overhead of having a team of full time developers to manually build and code a custom CMS and doesn’t want to power straightforward publishing websites.”

Dave Lievense, Director of Product Engineering & IT

Her Campus Media

Her Campus Logo mock up

Finding WordPress publishing experts

Like many niche publishers, Her Campus Media has limited development resources so finding the right technical partner was vital to its long term success.

The Code Company was uniquely positioned to offer specialist insight into digital publishing and make recommendations right from the start of the project.

This ensured the new website was built to last and prevented Her Campus from making costly mistakes. 

THE CODE COMPANY SOLUTION

Re-imagining UX to increase engagement

The original plan was to replicate Her Campus’s existing theme on the new WordPress site. However, it soon became clear that a migration was an ideal time to reinvent the brand with a full site redesign.

Our development team worked with Her Campus Media’s in-house designer to create and implement a new custom theme. This instantly modernised the site and encouraged users to view more pages.

Due to the new UX and cross-linking tools, people are now more inclined to click around the site.

Within two weeks of launching on WordPress we saw our page views per visitor nearly double

This was due to the ease of creating cross-links in the Gutenberg editor and because of the automated recommendations coming from awesome SEO plugins.

Our editors were also able to publish more articles quicker thanks to the modern editing experience that was easy & intuitive to use.”

Dave Lievense, Director of Product Engineering & IT

Her Campus Media

complex data migration

Migrating 500,000 articles

The Code Company developed an iterative data migration process to safely port eleven years of content from the redundant Drupal site into a new WordPress publishing platform. 

Our migration team managed this process seamlessly.

The site remained live for the entire time and there was no disruption to the thousands of users that post content every day.

Assets included:

  • 500,000 articles
  • 100+ static pages
  • 45,000+ authors
  • 24+ categories
  • 500+ chapters
  • 200,000+ tags

We have 100,000 users so the data and the complexity of the data import and transition was so much more than a standard migration.

We couldn’t shut down for two weeks so it was critical to find a partner with a realistic grasp of the immense task we were trying to accomplish.”

Dave Lievense, Director of Product Engineering & IT

Her Campus Media

CORE WEB VITALS

Eliminate ad tech issues and improve CLS

Her Campus had experienced significant ad tech issues. The site’s Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS ) scores were in the bottom 10% when we first met them. 

Because Google penalises websites with low CLS scores, the new publishing platform must be stable, unshifting and able to deliver a smooth page experience across all devices. 

Due to the limitations of ad management plugins, our ad tech specialists engineered a custom integration to connect Google Ad Manager to WordPress.This allows the in-house team to lazy load ads and send ad calls using single request architecture.

Her Campus now scores in the top 10% for CLS.

Load speed was cut in half and all of the scores we use to evaluate site health (such as engagement and page views) almost doubled.

Dave Lievense, Director of Product Engineering & IT

Her Campus Media