Modernizing a Leading U.S. Media Company’s Infrastructure with Headless CMS and AWS Technologies
A US-based cable news channel (“Media Co. A”) and US-based cable business news channel (“Media Co. B”) under the same media operating group needed to replace an aging Content Management System (CMS) and content creation tools for their web and mobile platforms. After realizing that the complexity and scale of the project required outside assistance, the media group’s Senior Vice President of Digital partnered with Wizeline to deploy the new and improved technology to help the company achieve its business-technology goals.
Media Co. A is a prominent cable news channel that broadcasts worldwide, 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 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.
Wizeline to the Rescue
The Wizeline team got to work and divided the project into three phases:
- Building a Proof of Concept (PoC)
- Developing architecture prototypes
- Deploying the new technology for both Media Co. websites
To minimize disruptions, Wizeline worked on the lower-traffic Media Co. B first, followed by Media Co. A. Because of the scale of the project, nearly 20 Wizeline employees joined the project team, including user experience designers, technical writers, and full-stack, DevOps, frontend, backend, QA, and cloud engineers.
Both companies initially wanted to replace their CMS with a traditional CMS such as WordPress. However, during the PoC, 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 separate frontend built on React. The architecture enabled WordPress to store and enrich the 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 to finalize the content 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 article creation and publishing across the platform
- S3 to store images
- Brightcove to store video
- EC2 to power the headless CMS
- Amazon Aurora to provide database redundancy in case of an outage
Finally, the team decided to build the final front end in Vue instead of React to improve development speed.
The Results: 15% Increase in Traffic and 2B Site Visitors a Month
The total project took 18 months from the PoC to the final deployment, with the first ten months focused on Media Co. B and the last eight months on Media Co. A. Upon launch, both brands saw tremendous improvements:
- Content creators could now 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 a better user experience.
- The CMS was very stable, causing system downtime from 6-25 hours a month to 0 after Wizeline put the new system in place.
With more 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.
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.