The authorities were flooded with questions about the processionary caterpillar. And some of the recommendations people shared online could potentially be harmful. This caused an urgent need for a national platform with reliable information. The Processionary Caterpillar Resource Center and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality commissioned 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, around 10:00 am: ”You have noticed the buzz around the processionary caterpillar, right? Any chance you can help us launch a solid website? Ideally within 24 hours? We’re in dire need of one national reliable knowledge base!”
That was the gist of the brief phone conversation we had with Arnold van Vliet, that morning. He is the chairperson of the Processionary Caterpillar Resource Center. The devastating presence of the oak processionary caterpillar keeps The Netherlands in a bid. Experts, physicians, and the Municipal Health Services are flooded with questions. Moreover, people share recommendations that can potentially be harmful. Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality promised to take action. She commissioned the formation of a resource center. Arnold, the chairperson of this resource center, already knew us since we’re collaborating on another project for Nature Today.
You see, we keep saying that our team thrives on hefty challenges. Therefore, there was just one way to answer. 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 the first (three minutes) phone conversation, several things became more clear:
- The online platform needed to cater to several target audiences, and guide each of them to relevant information as quickly as possible
- Editors needed to get access to the platform ASAP. That way, they could get started loading content;
- The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality would be pointing to this platform as the primary resource for reliable information. We, therefore, had to make sure the website wouldn’t budge under the pressure of hundreds of simultaneous visitors.
- The platform was commissioned by a government institution. So, even though web accessibility had not been specifically mentioned, it was going to be important.
This is one of those moments that we’re really happy we invested ample time in creating an awesome tool stack over the past years. Stability, agility, accessibility, usability, and indexability. They’re all part of the package.
The first step was creating a hosting environment with an acceptance and production environment and configuring the framework. We needed to be ready for considerable traffic peaks, so we wanted to invest enough time and attention here. By the end of the afternoon on Wednesday, the framework was ready to go. As of that moment, the editors had access and could start loading content. In the meanwhile, our designers and front-end developers were creating templates for the various types of pages at the speed of light.
The editorial team of the Processionary Caterpillar Resource Center has been busy loading 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 core of the solutions for the Processionary Caterpillar Knowledge Base has been the tool stack we already mentioned above: the WordPress platform with a streamlined theme and a combination of third-party and custom developed plugins. Therefore, most of the web accessibility for the platform was taken care of right away. 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.
There simply was no hesitation. We could, so to say, see the sparkle appear in the eyes of several team members. 24 hours? 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 were quick to pick up on the press release. 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.
As the need arises, the editors of the resource center will continue to add more information. Based on feedback and visitor statistics, we may need to roll out optimization releases. We never stop learning after all, and there’s always room for improvement.
"Of Processierups.nu, we realised the design, development, filled it with text and images, and we communicated it throughout the whole Netherlands in around a day. We are incredibly pleased with the professionalism, flexibility, enthusiasm and communication skills of the entire Level Level team. Great to work with. And of course it gives a huge kick if many media then find their way to the site and are positive about the content and functionality!"
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Got a rush job?
Just call us. We gladly contribute ideas and brainstorm ways to launch ASAP.