Many non-profit healthcare organizations use their public facing websites to distribute health related information and promote overall well-being to the community. This is a valuable service, but one that is only as effective as the website itself. Our customer, a large, non-profit healthcare organizations, was facing this very issue. at the time we met, the organization was using Microsoft SharePoint Server for its public site. While the site was functional, the customer imagined a site that went beyond mere functionality-the site, it thought, should attract, engage, and service the public in new and profound ways. To achieve this, it wanted to migrate its environment to the newer SharePoint to take advantage of new features. Additionally, in order to fulfill its desire to create a more engaging website, it wanted to explore potential custom tools.
The organization contacted i3solutions to help it migrate to a newer version of SharePoint, implement new branding, and develop supporting custom web parts required by its new design. The organization also brought in an external branding company to design its look and feel, a contractor who specialized in a custom forms based authentication application, and a contractor who had previously created custom components for its current site.
The customer approached i3solutions to evaluate its requirements for a migration of its existing SharePoint site to a new SharePoint site. i3solutions met with the customer to identify its needs and evaluate issues and risks presented by the branding created by a third party vendor. The branding did not completely comply with the architecture of SharePoint and i3solutions offered alternatives to ensure the theme would be present without creating more customization that would greatly impact cost.
The next step was to evaluate the best approach for the migration. Since content would need to be reorganized into a new look and feel within newly created page layouts; it was determined that a tool to assist with migration may be an unnecessary expense. The visual upgrade checker was used to confirm SharePoint could be upgraded and a test migration was performed using a copy of the production database.
The branding company involved in the project had created a custom forms based authentication system which would be used by the new site to manage registered users and their levels of access. The contractor who had created the previous SharePoint site was brought in to upgrade its custom components to be migrated over into the new SharePoint site. i3solutions helped manage these relationships and schedule the work performed by the various entities to ensure that conflicts did not arise. As the other vendors performed their activities, i3solutions also stepped in to assist with our deployments when needed. The claims based authentication did not comply with the branding, therefore, i3solutions assisted the vendor with restyling of its web parts. The custom components created for the older site had content type customizations that conflicted with rendering the page within the newer site. i3solutions helped diagnose this issue and advised the customer on what to tell the vendor in regards to fixing the issue.
During the migration effort, the customer expressed concern about getting its content into the new page layouts. In order to ensure project schedule was met, a custom page layout which repurposed the same web part zone that was created to provide an interim solution until the content admins had time to move to the newer page layouts. Several custom components were created for the new public site.
To meet some of the desired components featured on every page, additional custom controls were created and added to the master page. This included a take action control with important information displayed on hover, a custom footer, and “fat” footer which has become popular in recent years. All of these controls were populated by reading from a SharePoint list to make maintenance easier.
Five new custom page layouts were created to achieve the desired look and feel for the different sections of the site. Several custom XSLT templates were created to display highly stylized list views. Finally, due to the custom authentication mechanism, additional modifications to the master page, CSS and use of jQuery were required to hide the ribbon bar. This was to ensure the ribbon bar would not display when a user was logged in unless the user was an administrator.
As this is a critical system for this organization, testing was of primary importance. Each piece of functionality was tested by a team outside of the original developers before it was rolled out onto the test environment. When the client had issues to report, they were recorded in i3solutions’ SharePoint client portal. Items entered would be tasked, fixed, and tested internally before the ticket was submitted back for client re-testing. All of the testing tasks were performed in a testing environment set to match the production environment before the final push to production occurred.
During the push to production, i3solutions staff was on hand to support any encountered issues. The customer extended its relationship with i3solutions with an operations and maintenance support contract to ensure the environment is stable and robust for years to come.
The migration of the organization’s public facing website kept it on the cutting edge of content management systems. Streamlining the content administrators’ task so it could reach out to its clients and its voice heard. The new branding gave an eye-catching, fresh and engaging face to the organizations’ internet presence; providing a site that its users would be drawn to for information. The meticulous planning and commitment to service that i3solutions showed ensured that this critical system would not see any downtime during its migration. Most importantly, the customer’s goal of launching a website that engaged the public in new and meaningful ways was realized.