Headless CMS and AWS Migration for U.S. Media Company


This case study covers related brands under the same operating group: (1) US-based cable news channel (“Media Co. A”) and (2) a US-based cable business news channel  (“Media Co. B”). The stakeholder for both projects was the SVP of Digital. These two media brands needed to replace an aging content management system (CMS) and content creation tools for their web and mobile platforms. 

The challenge

Media Co. A is a prominent cable news channel that broadcasts around the world and its website is among the most visited sites globally with around 90 million unique visitors per month. Its sister channel, Media Co. B, is a cable news channel that discusses business and financial news and has a separate website. Although both companies generate content on a 24/7 news cycle, they shared an aging content management system (CMS) that was not designed to handle the increasing volume of content and frequently crashed. Moreover, content creators were frustrated with the CMS’ content creation tools, which were difficult to use and slowed down production. 

The media group’s Senior Vice President of Digital decided to overhaul the infrastructure supporting both websites. He partnered with Wizeline after realizing the complexity and scale of the project required outside assistance.

Our solution

Wizeline divided the project into three phases: building a POC, developing architecture prototypes, and deploying the new technology for both Media Co. websites. To minimize disruptions, Wizeline would work on the lower-traffic Media Co. B first, followed by Media Co. A. Because of the work required, nearly 20 Wizeline employees supported the project, including user experience designers, technical writers, and full-stack, DevOps, frontend, backend, QA, and cloud engineers.

Media Co. A and Media Co. B initially wanted to replace their CMS with a traditional CMS using WordPress. During the POC however, Wizeline proposed a cloud-hosted headless CMS believing that it would better serve the company’s needs. Wizeline built the headless CMS POC using WordPress and a detached frontend built on React. The architecture enabled WordPress to store and enrich content in a database-agnostic, Node.js-powered application. Although initially skeptical of using a headless CMS since it had only been deployed at a few major media companies before, Media Co. A and Media Co. B quickly realized its value and agreed to move forward.   

Wizeline designed the headless CMS with three process layers: content creation, content stream, and content delivery. The layers resided across an authoring domain for previewing content, and a delivery domain, where content would be finalized for release. After completing development, Wizeline customized the new WordPress authoring interface with metadata management, categorization, a media library integration, and more, all of which provided a richer editorial experience. The interface could transform HTML content into JSON components via a plug-in, and push those components to the new serverless content workflow.

The team integrated other technologies into the headless CMS to expand its capabilities including Elasticsearch to improve search performance, Kinesis Streams to manage activities such as article creation, publishing, and more), across the platform, S3 to store images, Brightcove to store video, EC2 to power the headless CMS, and Amazon Aurora to provide database redundancy in case of an outage. To improve development speed, the team decided to build the final front end in Vue instead of React.

Customer impact

The total project took 18 months from the POC to the final deployment. The team focused on Media Co. B for the first ten months followed by Media Co. A for the last eight months. After launch, both brands saw gains. Content creators could develop content in less than half the time it took on the old CMS, enabling them to create higher quality content and deploy it faster. Content teams could also create and share content across different properties providing better user experience.

 The CMS was also very stable. System downtime, for example, dropped from 6-25 hours a month to 0 after the new system was put in place. With new content and a more stable site, traffic surged. Media Co. B experienced 89 million hits in the first full year, an increase of over 15% from the previous year, and Media Co. A received nearly 2 billion visitors a month making it a top 10 news site in the United States.

About Wizeline

Wizeline is a software development and design services company with operations in the U.S., Mexico, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, and Spain. Wizeline partners with global enterprises and scaling startups to build end-to-end digital products. If you’d like to learn more, please visit www.wizeline.com or check out more case studies.

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