Bogotá Chamber of Commerce Reinvigorates Multi-site Digital Strategy with eZ

Bogotá, Colombia is home to nearly nine million inhabitants and acts as the clear economic hub of the country. The city features one of the world’s most respected Chamber of Commerce. The Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, or CCB – Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá – is a private non-profit that seeks a sustainable long-term Bogotá by promoting entrepreneurship and the improvement of the business environment.

Each business owner in Bogotá must register or renew their company with the institution, making its website a central step for starting or growing a business in Bogotá. With more than 13 million page views per year, the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce website has a large audience that relies on its ease of use and dependability.

The Bogotá Chamber of Commerce needed an enterprise-grade content management platform that was capable of withstanding large-scale traffic, multi-site growth and external system integrations while providing long-term support, stability and strong security. The Chamber of Commerce turned to Aplyca, a Bogotá-based content management system (CMS) implementation company and architecture consultant that specializes in eZ Publish.

The Challenge

The Bogotá Chamber of Commerce was no stranger to digital media, having been online since 1997 and maintaining around a dozen purpose-built portals.

According to María Elvira Quintana, Communications Manager at Aplyca: “The Bogota Chamber of Commerce is a key step in starting or growing a business. The website is the first resource most entrepreneurs use and a frequent source for businesses of all sizes.” It is essential that the site is easy to understand as well as able to handle traffic spikes when the registration deadline approaches each March. “It’s not uncommon to see traffic spike to 150,000 page views per day during the period,” claims Orlando Gutierrez, IT Infrastructure Director at Aplyca.

Prior to implementing eZ Publish, the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce had a third-party proprietary content management system built on the .NET platform. The limitations of this platform meant they required extra installations and extra content repositories to manage different channels for the site, explains Quintana: “We had a desktop site, a mobile site, an English version and a heavy traffic version, that needed to be updated and maintained frequently. In practice, our editors and engineers were managing multiple content repositories for essentially the same content.”

Felipe Jaramillo, project leader at Aplyca said: “Most of our clients come with challenges for non-trivial CMS features. Multi-language sites, sub-sites or mobile-specific versions can really slow down editorial teams and make system maintenance a time-consuming process.”

But there were even more contributing factors to the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce’s inevitable switch to eZ Publish. A solution not actively supported in the medium term opens the door to security vulnerabilities and functional limitations. “We liked eZ Publish’s support policy of six-plus years as well as their track record for maintaining a continuous, uninterrupted upgrade path that is not destructive, maintains existing content and will not break custom functionality” says Angélica Nieto De Gamboa, Web Team Leader at Aplyca.

Due to the sheer complexity of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce’s collection of portals, the institution looked to a solution that excelled in scalability, multi-site and multilingual management, and security. The Bogotá Chamber of Commerce took into account the history of eZ Publish providing strong enterprise CMS for high profile users for over ten years.

Other notable reasons behind the selection of eZ Publish included:

  • Responsive design capabilities (the site is now fully responsive).
  • Strong user management, roles, permissions and workflow.
  • Scalable performance on cloud environments like Amazon Web Services using CDN (Content Delivery Networks) and site acceleration with Varnish.
  • Multi-site licensing options including several sites under the same installation without added cost.

Defining the Message

Aplyca worked with the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce staff to define their content and their message in a precise manner. “We had the CCB team and a group of usability experts carefully evaluate the way people were interacting with the website.” Aplyca discovered a clear disconnect between the users of the site and what the Chamber of Commerce wanted to communicate. The team performed audience definition exercises to create user personas for who would be using the site. “These user profiles helped us work together with collaborative wireframing, making the design process a team effort.”

After the architecture was set up and the responsive design complete, Aplyca followed by building the new eZ Publish 5 version of the site in June, 2013. The site was completed in four months and launched before the end of the year. “Developers loved the way new eZ Publish Platform 5 sites are built with the new Symfony framework,” says Jaramillo referring to eZ Publish 5 foundation on the Symfony stack, a high-performance PHP framework for web development. “With the release of eZ Publish 5.3 we managed to transition the site with a smooth and fast development process.”

Cloud Infrastructure

Technically speaking, eZ Publish projects involve a set of tools and processes that enhance the practical CMS implementation. Modern solutions involve cloud architecture, scalability and ultra-fast website acceleration.

“We followed a step-bystep process where the Chamber of Commerce could benefit from the cloud and website acceleration even months before eZ Publish was complete. By involving the IT team, accelerating their legacy site and setting up a complete eZ Publish and Cloud Computing training program, we managed to show quick wins while ensuring their team would share ownership of the end product” says Jaramillo.

An extra benefit during the switch to eZ Publish was that the site no longer needed to rely on Google for its site search capabilities. The Bogotá Chamber of Commerce moved to eZ Find, the out-of-the-box search engine in eZ Publish, and cut costs greatly. “They were previously paying for the Google Search Appliance, which can cost up to $40,000 a year. That was completely replaced by the eZ Find and Lucene search engine.”

Immediate Results

The site was launched in December of 2014, and the impact was immediate. Overall page views increased by 53% and pages per visit saw an 82% increase, according to Web Team Leader Nieto de Gamboa. Visit duration increased by a minute and a half, from three minutes, up to four and a half minutes. The sites bounce rate was also reduced by 30.2%.