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Radio Netherlands

Radio Netherlands Worldwide Promotes Free Speech with Drupal Efficiencies

Acquia Supplies Cloud Environment, Expertise for International Web Presence

Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) has a long and productive history with Drupal. An international broadcaster funded by the Dutch government, the organisation’s mission has changed over time, and Drupal has helped to enable each new vision. The current mission, to promote free speech around the world by targeting countries with the greatest need, is an excellent fit for Drupal’s capabilities.

RNW’s first web presence was built on proprietary systems that were difficult to update. As the Internet grew more important to its mission, RNW made the decision to switch to Drupal.

How they did it

After extensive research, RNW determined that Drupal would be best suited to its needs. “We looked at a lot of systems, and we saw that Drupal has a large community and a lot of modules that we could use off the shelf,” said Miechiel Schwartz, senior Drupal
developer at RNW. “If we want to create new functionality, there’s always somebody either implementing it already or starting work on it. We learn from everybody in the Drupal community, a big benefit for our organisation.”

Drupal’s multilingual capabilities are also a big advantage. One important new RNW site targets China. “It’s difficult to program a website in Chinese, not understanding the language,” Schwartz said. “We had a complete editorial team working with us on the website. It was really great that Drupal offered us a multilingual system. We could use the English interface, while the Chinese editorial team used the Chinese interface.”

Some of the RNW websites will use Drupal’s multilingual capabilities to present the same content in different languages to the end user. For example, the website built for the African region will present the same content in both French and English.

Drupal also allows the team to reuse content. Audio, video, photographs, and text are set up in Drupal structures called blocks, which can be presented in different combinations on different platforms.

With the most recent change in mission, and the demands of the new websites that the mission required, came a move to Drupal 7 and Acquia Cloud. Drupal 7 provided better performance and a more reliable codebase. The move to Acquia Cloud consolidated all the websites onto one platform while also offering Drupal performance and maintenance advantages.

“Acquia has given us tools like Acquia Insight to let us monitor what the site is doing and show us if we have configured it well,” Schwartz said. “They give us the tools to see if everything is okay. Acquia is a solid company with a lot of Drupal experts on staff, a great resource for Drupal knowledge.”

The results

Most recently, RNW launched helanonline.nl, targeting the 15–30 year old demographic in China. Part of RNW’s new mission is reaching young people, who make up the majority of the population in the target areas. These are the decision makers of the future, and they use the Internet extensively for social interaction. The new website designs are based on research into what this target audience needs.

So far, the new Chinese site has succeeded in reaching its audience, with 125,000 unique visits and 278,000 pageviews in the first three months (May through August 2013). Future relaunched sites will target Sub-Saharan Africa with French and English sites, Latin America, and the Middle East, and North Africa.

Drupal and Acquia are helping to make RNW’s vision a reality, helping to cut development time, provide information in whatever language is needed, and adapt to budget restraints and changing missions. RNW will continue to provide access to information in regions that have problems with free speech, human rights, or sexual rights, and Drupal and Acquia will help them do it.

Acquia is a solid company with a lot of Drupal experts on staff, a great resource for Drupal knowledge.
Miechiel Schwartz
Senior Drupal Developer, Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Company Information

Radio Netherlands Worldwide
International broadcaster targeting free speech needs around the world
Government agency
80 employees
Drupal user since 2009
Acquia client since 2012
The Numbers
  • 4 targeted regions: Africa,the Arabic World, Latin America, and China
  • 16 websites, including: – www.rnw.orgwww.rnl.nl – China: helanonline.nl – India: www.lovematters.info and
  • www.lovematters.in – Kenya: lovematters.co.ke – Mexico: www.hablemosdeamor.mx – Côte d’Ivoire: regardssurgbagbo.net – Kenya: thehaguetrials.co.ke – Suriname: boks.sr
  • 6 languages: English, French, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, and Hindi