Business Australia Multi-site Environment
Robust Architecture for a Multi-Brand Organisation
The NSW Business Chamber is an umbrella organisation that includes a number of smaller sub-entities all focused on helping Australian businesses. The organisation provides a wide range of services to the Australian business community across areas such as Law, Marketing, Recruitment, Training and International Trade.
Here we present an example of how Create Studios has constructed an efficient multi-site environment where Design, Functional and Technical collateral can all be shared efficiently.
The NSW Business Chamber “Multi-site” Architecture
The NSW Business Chamber has a suite of over 80 websites. They frequently need to create new sites in all sorts of contexts - from simple and quick campaign sites to larger, mature and technically complex sites. Create Studios has been involved with well over 20 website projects with the client.
The relevant Challenge Create Studios has faced across those suites of projects has been creating processes and collateral that can be efficiently leveraged across many different brands with very different user personas to:
- Ensure subsequent projects can be undertaken efficiently and with high value
- Ensure that the sites are easy to maintain
- Ensure user administration of the sites is very consistent
Strategy & Implementation
As this Case Study considers multiple projects over time, much of what Create Studios has developed has been refined over many years of continuous improvement.
The main concepts we have developed include:
- Multiple websites with shared features and functionality sit on the same instance of software.
- Create Studios manages 3 instances encompassing ~20 sites across those 3.
- This makes maintaining the sites much simpler as changes/fixes/upgrades applied to multiple sites at once.
- All administration functions are shared. So, content editors can be given access to any combination of sites making their job easier and less time-consuming.
- Key content structures are shared with content items assigned to any or all sites.
- Key underlying functionality is shared across sites even when the front-end visuals look very different.
From a UI Design and Digital Componentry perspective, Create Studios has:
- Maintained a “Design System” library of design components for each brand that leverages consistent markup
- Maintained a library of custom “Web Parts” that can be leveraged on any given site - things such as a Jobs Board, Quiz Modules, Diagnostics, etc…
- Maintained a library of “Templates” that can be leveraged across different sites with consistent mark-up but different CSS so they can appear completely different with different brands.
Solution & Results
The Solution to this business case has mainly revolved around 2 things:
- The set of libraries (Design, Web Part/Functions & Templates) maintained by Create Studios that can be used across over 20+ sites
- A case-by-case implementation of UI Design depending on the brand - either converging on singular brand identity or diverging completely.
For example, one set of websites built within this context was a suite of health industry recruiting websites all related to an Umbrella Brand - HSGA. These sites all share underlying componentry and deliberately look very similar. They all cater to similar basic user personas varying mainly on geography and all are familiar with the parent brand. These sites include ACT Nursing, CQ Nurse and Alliance Community to name a few.
On the other hand, another set of sites built for NSW Business Chamber all focus on employment but all cater to very different personas with completely different brand identities. Some of these sites include Skillsroad, Talent Options & Old School / New School. All these sites look vastly different but still share underlying templates and functionality such as Jobs Boards and combined editor modules.
A final example is effectively “in-between” these 2 in that we have designed and built a set of sites catering to different personas that do share componentry but are visually somewhat divergent. These sites include Business Energy Advice, Australian Business Energy and Energy NSW Business Chamber.
The results of these efforts have really borne out over years of ongoing work and maintenance. Effectively:
- The shared componentry have ensured ongoing maintenance has been relatively simple
- On-boarding of new content editors has been simpler as they leverage the same constructs on many sites
- New website and campaign mini-site projects are quicker and better value