CASE STUDY: VisitKC.com Responsive Website
As the Kansas City region's number one resource for visitors and meeting planners, VisitKC.com contained a great depth of travel information. What it lacked, however, was a user-friendly design and an organized content structure. Visit KC tasked MMGY with designing and building a new, mobile-responsive site that both inspired users to plan their trip online while providing a better overall site experience. In addition, the website had to leverage Visit KC’s new brand identity. With the recent launch of a new brand, Visit KC felt it critical to showcase the city's revitalization by highlighting the cultural metropolis with a creative, cosmopolitan community and friendly atmosphere—the perfect destination for a vacation or meeting.
In the Discovery phase of the project, MMGY determined that VisitKC.com required a responsive design and streamlined content to highlight the best information. Our team started by creating VisitKC.com’s new site architecture, while simultaneously performing a content audit on the current website. By accomplishing both of these in tandem, we were able to uncover gaps and opportunities for the new design and content strategy. Next came the Design phase. We focused on building a simplified, content-friendly site with easy navigation. In addition to leveraging the existing content, new content development incorporated items such as favorites lists, feature articles, and recommended itineraries.
The new, responsive VisitKC.com includes different user-smart homepages for visitors and meeting planners, a unique search display, category overview pages, social media integration of Twitter and Instagram, ad-serving integration with Dart for Publishers (DFP), integration with a third party listing service, and a Local Favorites section highlighting lists from Kansas City celebrities.
In addition to building out an easy-to-navigate site for the end-user, MMGY also provided the Visit KC staff with an improved, open-source Content Management System (CMS). The new admin allows Visit KC to easily and efficiently update the content and features of the site, providing the client with a much more enjoyable and intuitive CMS experience.
VisitKC.com launched in October of 2014, on-time and on-budget. To date, the website has been well received by stakeholders as well as the public. It also launched at a time to coordinate with buzz-worthy news such as the Royals’ progression in the MLB post season playoffs, the opening of the new Film Commission of Greater Kansas City, and a number of major convention sales efforts.
See the new site at www.visitkc.com.
After the website’s launch, Visit KC tasked us with a special project; KC Restaurant Week. MMGY chose Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk product in order to provide a multi-tier system that could scale horizontally. A drupal module that pushed all user files to S3 was used so that any image uploaded became available to all web servers as well as protected in case machines were terminated as network activity slowed down. Drupal’s Boost module was used for cache management. MMGY wrote a script that would clean out the cache on every running EC2 instance at periodic intervals and after designated events, which kept the cache synced across the instances.
This hosting environment allowed the Restaurant Week site to serve 1.7 million requests (js files, css files, images, etc.) within a 24 hour period. This equates to about 20 requests per second for 24 hours. At one point, the website had over 700 active sessions on the load balancer. Not only did the site handle a high traffic volume for an extend period of time, but it also handled a high concurrency level.