Acquia Lightning in Action: Crain Communications

Crain Communications and Srijan Technologies built a foundation for redesigning and migrating their many sites with Acquia Lightning.

This is the second blog post in a series that looks at customer success stories with Acquia Lightning, an open source Drupal distribution primarily used to get up and running quickly on Drupal 8.

Web developers and site builders today need to build scalable, flexible websites and new digital experiences quickly and efficiently. To help expedite Drupal builds, distributions are designed to help address this problem by including a preselected collection of modules, themes, libraries and out-of-the-box configuration.  

Acquia Lightning, an open source Drupal distribution, is designed to be a starting point for developers and is a great place to start a new Drupal 8 project. It takes the guesswork out of module selection in key areas and it empowers developers and site builders to rapidly create sites and applications. Lightning contains modules for APIs, Workflow, Media, Layout and much more.

Crain Communications is an American multi-industry publishing conglomerate. Like many other media, entertainment and publishing houses, Crain had a problem with what we call “digital sprawl.” Each brand in the Crain family was operating on its own web platform, leading to operational inefficiencies that prevented the implementation of new digital initiatives.

Srijan Technologies, a Drupal-based digital transformation company, proposed using Acquia Lighting to standardize Crain’s brand sites. Acquia Lightning was used to enable component-based development as well as deploy a Lightning sub-profile on a multisite architecture for all the brand sites. Srijan then proposed standardizing the components as the development progressed. The idea was also to bring better governance to have a tighter grip to the architecture and ensure a documented process for development of components. Ultimately, this led to a reduced cost of investment for further site development.

Srijan built a custom sub-profile that packed the full set of features and functionalities already defined for the brand websites. When a new website for a brand has to be built, the custom profile delivers a functional website with most features already in place.

In addition to Acquia Lightning, Crain Communications also leveraged Acquia Cloud to support an enterprise-level, multisite setup. This gave Crain the ability to scale up on demand and as new brands go live.

With around 30 developers working across timezones, multiple tracks running in parallel (live sites and under-development sites on the same shared Core code base) continuous integration and continuous development has been a key. Crain also used Acquia BLT extensively to set up its development and deployment pipelines.

When scoping the project originally, the estimated time to redesign and migrate was three to five months for each site, which would have resulted in a painfully long migration timeline. But by investing up front in eight months of development on a core platform, Crain was able to roll out its first four sites in only six weeks.

The support requests to Crain engineering have gone down significantly for these new sites. The first brand was able to set up around 50 landing pages without needing any developer intervention because of the powerful, Lightning-based platform Srijan built. All brands share best practices across analytics, SEO (meta tags, etc.), performance (Drupal Cache, Varnish, Cloudflare), media management etc as these are part of the Core platform.

Acquia Lightning fulfilled its promise of getting Crain’s websites built quickly and provided a solid foundation for future digital initiatives. For more on Lightning, vist

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