Anxious citizens flooded the authorities with questions about the processionary caterpillar. People started to shared recommendations that could be harmful. Because of this, the pressure to create one nationwide reliable source of information was rising. The Processionary Caterpillar Resource Center and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality reached out to us for help. And in just over 24 hours, we launched a fully responsive and fully accessible WordPress based knowledge-base. In the first 24 hours, the website served over 60.000 visitors. At its peak, the website welcomed 15.000 visitors in an hour, 2.500 of them simultaneously. Without a wince.
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Launching this quickly obviously comes with pros and cons. But if you’re under pressure to get something published, do know you can count on us. After all, we truly mean it when we say that a good challenge makes us happy. Give us a call. We gladly contribute ideas.
Wednesday, July 3rd 2019, around 10:00 am: ”Have you noticed the buzz around the processionary caterpillar? Any chance you can help us launch a solid website? Ideally within 24 hours? We all really need one reliable source of information!”
That was the gist of the brief phone conversation with Arnold van Vliet that morning. He is the chairperson of the Processionary Caterpillar Resource Center. The devastating presence of the oak processionary caterpillar was keeping The Netherlands in a bid. Citizens flooded experts, physicians, and the Municipal Health Services with questions. Moreover, people were sharing recommendations that could be harmful. Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality promised to take action. She commissioned forming a resource center. Next, she appointed Arnold van Vliet as chairperson. And we were already collaborating with him on another project for the organisation Nature Today.
You see, we keep saying that our team thrives on hefty challenges. For this reason we could only think of one way to react. A confident yes, accompanied with a huge smile.
“We’re continuously expanding and refining our toolkit. This 24-hour challenge allowed us to test how fast we could launch a lightweight and fully accessible website. “
In the hour following that first (three minutes) phone conversation, we got clarity on several things:
- We needed to make sure that the online platform would cater to several target audiences at the same time. Moreover, visitors would be anxious to find relevant, reliable information as quickly as possible. Making sure visitors accomplished that goal quickly and easily thus was vital.
- We needed to arrange access for editors ASAP. That way, they could get started with loading content while we were working on other aspects of the platform.
- The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality would point to this platform as the primary resource for reliable information. Therefore, we needed to be ready for hundreds of simultaneous visitors.
- A government institution took part in commissioning this platform and would point to it as the primary source of information. Therefore, we needed to make sure the platform would meet the accessibility standards.
This was one of those moments that we were really happy that we had invested so much time in creating an awesome tool stack over the past years. Stability, agility, accessibility, usability, and indexability. They’re all part of the package.
We started out with creating a hosting environment with an acceptance and production environment. Next, we configured the framework. We needed to be ready for considerable traffic peaks. Because of that, we wanted to invest enough time and attention here. By the end of the afternoon on Wednesday, the framework was ready to go. We then arranged access for editors. That way, they could start loading content. And in the meanwhile, our designers and front-end developers worked frantically on creating templates for the various types of pages.
The editorial team of the Processionary Caterpillar Resource Center continued to load content up until the wee hours of the night and during most of the following morning. To make sure that they wouldn’t get stuck in any sort of way, we had team members available for most of that time.
The tool stack we mentioned before forms the core of this content platform. We’re using the WordPress CSM software with a streamlined theme and a combination of third-party and custom developed plugins. Using this tool stack took care of most of the web accessibility needs for this platform. The Axe accessibility test consistently shows results between the 91st and 100th percentile.
In this case, the organizational culture and team spirit have played a major role, as well.
We could, so to say, see the sparkle appear in each others’ eyes. 24 hours? Nobody hesitated for a moment. Awesome, let’s do it!
That escalated quickly!
60.000 visitors within the first 24 hours!
“And just like that, the machine started churning. We knew there was a huge need for this site, so we gladly took this 24-hour challenge upon us. I’m incredibly proud of this team.“
It’s been an intense 24 hours, but the result is impressive. Thursday, July 4th at 7:00 PM, a press release was sent to a list of about 200 journalists. Half an hour later, we watched the first visitors arrive. News channels picked up on the press release quickly. The number of simultaneous visitors grew fast. Around 10.00PM, we reached a peak amount of simultaneous visitors: 2.500. Within the first 24 hours, a total of 60.000 sessions have been initiated, and half a million pages have been viewed.
The editors of the resource center will continue to add more information as needed. Based on feedback and visitor statistics, we may need to roll out optimization releases. After all, we never stop learning and there’s always room for improvement.
“We realised the design, development and content in around one day. We communicated it throughout the whole Netherlands shortly after. We are incredibly pleased with the professionalism, flexibility, enthusiasm and communication skills of the entire Level Level team. Great to work with. Of course it gives a huge kick when the media finds their way to the site. And is positive about the content and functionality!”
We owned these challenges
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Got a rush job?
Just call us. We gladly contribute ideas and brainstorm ways to launch ASAP.