My Favorite Web Projects During Drupal’s 20 Years Of Community Driven Innovation
Drupal, the world’s leading open source digital experience platform (DXP), celebrated 20 years of community-driven innovation at the beginning of 2021. Since its inception, “Drupal has touched millions of lives. One in 30 sites on the web is powered by Drupal, and that means most users of the web have experienced Drupal—even if they don't know it.” - Drupal.org.
As Drupal nears its 21st birthday, we would like to share our favorite CommonPlaces Drupal projects over the last two decades.
- Waste Management, Business - My favorite project because we were able to work on the project as a whole – with everything from market research, to business plan, to system design and implementation – and finally Business Development, signing up over 150 partners. We had a team of 25 professionals on this project, all a pleasure to work with.
Waste Management hired CommonPlaces to do a Strategic Analysis of their Internet eCommerce initiates. CommonPlaces developed the strategy, wrote the business plan, developed the website, and provided Business Development consultation. Thus, Greenopolis.com, a “green” educational community that encouraged its members to make positive environmental changes in their daily lives and communities was born. CommonPlaces created the fictitious ambassador named “Liv Green” as the site mascot, who encouraged “green” thinking & behavior through blog posts and discussion boards. Greenopolis has won numerous awards for design and innovation, including the WebAward for Outstanding Achievement in Website Development. This was a huge multi-million dollar project and WM made a nice profit selling the ebusiness.
Greenopolis' fictitious ambassador, “Liv Green” was created by CommonPlaces as the site mascot, to encourage “green” thinking & behavior.
- MIT - MIT’s Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) Group approached CommonPlaces looking to replace their Alfresco Enterprise CMS. CommonPlaces created IS&T’s Customer Experience Portal providing technical support for the entire university and its students. CommonPlaces implemented the framework as MIT’s first Drupal project, which has now become a standard across the university. The website included a search facility for the various databases, services, resources, news, product information, procedures, applications and a help desk. The website is used by the students, faculty and administration at MIT.
- Intuit - Intuit was introducing Quickbase, an application development platform enabling problem solvers to create an ecosystem of applications. CommonPlaces was hired to develop a Customer Experience Portal for their partners and customers with a SSO API to Intuit’s backend web services. Utilizing the Acquia platform we were able to provide a stable, high quality, secure offering to the large customer base. The project was so successful, Intuit contracted CommonPlaces to complete additional development projects.
- Epsilon - CommonPlaces was hired to design and develop the relaunch of Epislon’s Agility and Harmony email and multichannel campaigns for the Fortune 500. This was their first venture into a product specific satellite site, and they turned to CommonPlaces to help realize their vision. CommonPlaces delivered the Agility Website which was responsive across all platforms, integrated with all of Epsilon’s many needs, was easily navigable, and visually exciting. Epsilon later came back and had us develop a sister site for Harmony product lines. The resulting sites increased sales 400% over a 3 year period.
- The Cool Block - As a result of a partnership with Greenopolis building the original Cool City, Empowerment Institute turned to CommonPlaces to launch the customer portal application, The Cool Block, as a tool for its umbrella initiative, “Cool City Challenge” (described below.) CommonPlaces built out The Cool Block Portal to enable them to track an individual’s progress as they moved through the program, while making reporting filterable on an individual level, team level, and city level.
The Cool City Challenge (CCC) initiates a new paradigm in addressing climate change: Coupling state-of the art behavior change and community engagement strategies with deep data collection and analysis, and enabling green technology adoption, policy implementation and market development. The initiative has raised $130+ million in grants and pledges for a 10-year program to create carbon neutral cities by 2030, starting in California. This is complemented by $2 billion of committed low-cost financing to support households in implementing energy efficiency retrofits and solar/EV installations.
- Verizon App Challenge - CommonPlaces partnered with TSA and Verizon Wireless to design and build a website and application for the annual Verizon Innovative App Challenge. The App Challenge was a nationwide contest for middle- and high-school-aged students that challenges them to develop concepts for mobile apps that solve a problem in their community. These concepts were then assessed by a panel of judges to select one team in each grade range (6-8 and 9-12) from each region as Best in Nation winners. CommonPlaces developed a crowd voting mechanism on the App Challenge website, allowing the public to vote for their favorite concept. The website attracted over 100,000 registered students in its first month. The program ran for four years. CommonPlaces received the WebAward for Outstanding Website for work on the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.
- Unica - IBM - After successful projects with Intuit and a move to CA, the remaining team joined Unica and hired CommonPlaces to build out their Customer Service Portal. Unica provided software that automates the process of predicting customer preferences, designing ad campaigns based on that information and measuring how effective the campaigns are. We began by integrating two ticketing systems (Serena Teamtrack and Salesforce) with a single UI for clients to submit tickets, see logged tickets, responses, etc. The system utilized the APIs from each application based on product selection. Customer Service would enter updates in either application and real time updates would need to be displayed to the client. We also built a custom Analytics module that leveraged their own services to replace an expensive Omniture, but gets down to the user specific details. The project was such a success that IBM acquired Unica Corp. for $480 million. We continued to support and enhance the project for two years while IBM integrated the services into their own platform.
- Genscape - Genscape operates the world's largest private network of in-field monitors and distributes industry-leading alternative data, delivering unsurpassed market intelligence across the commodity and energy spectrum including power, oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids, agriculture, biofuels, and maritime freight. In addition to more than 4,000 on-the-ground EMF monitors, the company uses infrared cameras, satellite imagery, terrestrial AIS antennas, and omnidirectional microphones, and collects over 500 million vessel signals each day. CommonPlaces built a Drupal website that collected data from all of these sources and generated sophisticated reports outlining where, when and how much fuels were being transported. These reports were then sold to finance organizations at a premium to get a jump on the commodity markets. CommonPlaces also provided SEO Analysis and Buyer Personas increasing traffic and growing top line revenues. Genscape was acquired by Wood Mackenzie.
- The Council of Residential Specialists (CRS) - CRS is a leading education and networking organization professional network of nearly 33,000 residential real estate professionals from across the United States and around the globe. CommonPlaces built a site allowing CRS to share their content with non-members, so any visitor would be able read the blogs and members’ comments. The site included a “Find a CRS” feature, complete with an interactive map, to search for a Certified Residential Specialist in any area of interest around the world. Much of the site’s content was shared with the general public— where any visitor can read the blogs and comments from members. Essential components of this project included the ability to handle a wide variety of members, online learning, e-commerce and geospatial search. The flexibility of the Drupal platform was therefore intrinsic to the success of the project.
- Twolia - The Twolia project was ahead of its time. Twolia is an exciting website for independent musicians, filmmakers, performers, entrepreneurs and creative women seeking a stage for their many talents. The site was a combination of Etsy, eBay and iTunes, where female artists could display or play their creations and then sell them. The site's features include the sale of music by independent female musicians, an online shopping mall, talent contests, television and film awards, a Screening Room with films produced or directed by women, blogs on a variety of topics, and a series of WebTV shows hosted by actresses everywhere. Using Drupal, the site integrates the best functionality of YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, Etsy, and IMDb to provide an all-inclusive service to their members, enabling them to promote, sell, and share their individual talents. Each section of Twolia.com involves its own complex workflow, profile and legal requirements, and e-commerce/profit-sharing features. Through solid SEO along with a guest blogging strategy, we were able to achieve a top 100,000 website status within six months. This website had very sophisticated capabilities like listening to a song online and purchasing it for your iTunes. A couple MTV executives ended up taking it over.
Over the years of working on these projects, I have gained a deep appreciation of the flexibility Drupal offers. It has proven time and time again, its ability to adapt and evolve with the constant advances of the technology of our time, and continually into the future. Although you can do just about anything with Drupal, it is a fairly complex sophisticated framework. In order to be successful, you must follow best practices, don’t take any shortcuts and have a GIT repository to keep track of your development.
It has been wonderful to look back at these incredibly successful projects and how they transformed companies providing an incredible online Customer Experience.
I look forward to seeing what the next decade and Drupal has in store for us at CommonPlaces. Who knows what my top 10 projects will be in 10-20 years. Maybe it will be yours, let’s connect to see how we can start something amazing.