“Whenever we partner with Metal Toad on a project, it's with a great sense of relief--like that's one less thing we need to worry about. Metal Toad has our back. They always come through for us.”
The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Hollywood Bowl (LAP+HB) websites are complex by necessity. Not only do they exist independently while sharing blocks of content, but they also incorporate scheduling, marketing promotions, and massive media libraries. When choosing to upgrade from a foundation built on custom ColdFusion code and a SQL Server database, they needed a single multi-site platform that coupled a great admin experience with flexible and dynamic content management.
When approaching Metal Toad, the LAP+HB and their design partner Kapow, Inc. had already consulted on design and brought a beautiful design and clear content architecture. Metal Toad jumped on board to simplify the publishing workflow, plan software architecture, and perform front and backend development.
For Metal Toad, formulating a solution (especially for multi-site platforms) requires a holistic view of the IT environment in which the web properties will live. In this case, the LAP+HB were clocking 80,000+ pageviews per day during ticket releases and, due to this, necessitated solid, fast server architecture. Toads worked with the LAP+HB IT team to build a Windows server platform that could handle the load and provide a sturdy foundation for ongoing development.
At this point, Drupal emerged as the ideal solution. The customizable modules offered LAP+HB the features they needed as well as the room to develop the site into the future. Consolidating the websites with multi-site modules proved to be the right choice. With both websites sharing the same server and cache systems, the Toads were able to reduce IT complexity and the cost compared to separate server platforms.
Content findability was enhanced from the original ColdFusion system as well. The Toads migrated 33,000+ records, spanning 20 different content types to MySQL, and added an Apache Solr search index. These were integrated into a powerful faceted search tool with Philpedia (LAP+HB onsite encyclopedia) and site-wide indexes. Entering a search term now returns accurate results which are further categorized into: Performances, People, Pieces, Press, and Other. This small tweak makes searching for a specific item in the massive database both faster and more accurate.
A custom calendar module helped the Toads to build a complex and beautiful calendar in no time flat. After customizing the layout with Kapow, adding advanced search, and integrating with TicketMaster, the LAP+HB calendar stays true to the respective brands and, unlike many online calendar plugins, has an integrated look and feel as the rest of site.
The Toads then created the Hollywood Bowl's “What Happened Last Night” feature. This allows moderators to approve or reject images of recent events submitted by concertgoers and easily categorize and store them. The system looks at the EXIF data of the photo to automatically match the photos to the event where they were taken and assigns them to a Press Image Library. Media reporters are granted special access to the image database and can access photos in the library not available to the public.
Finally, on the Hollywood Bowl site, the “Park & Ride” section couples a Google Maps API with a custom overlay to show departure times and locations (that vary by concert) for the 18 bus lines that take concertgoers to the Bowl from all around the Los Angeles area.
In the end, the Toads delivered a better experience for both LAP+HB staff and visitors by stabilizing the site under high-traffic, making it easier to update, and greatly improving usability by building on Kapow's designs and input.