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How Powdr Brings the Slopes to Any Screen with Decoupled Drupal

Any ski fanatic knows that variation in terrain or conditions can call for a different type of ski. The perfect powder ski doesn’t always translate to groomed terrain, and vise versa. To get the best experience, skiers need flexibility in the tools and hardware they bring to the mountain. Powdr Resorts, one of the largest ski resort operators in North America, required this same fine-tuned flexibility across all of their digital properties.

Powdr oversees dozens of skis resorts in North America that span from California to Vermont. However, a collection of disparate content management systems made it difficult to govern their digital properties across multiple brands and sites. Powdr needed a digital solution that provides each brand in the Powdr family the flexibility required to deliver customized web experience for their users.

Powdr turned to Elevated Third, Hoorooh Digital, and Acquia to build and design the ultimate Decoupled Drupal 8 site for Boreal Mountain Resort. Elevated Third spearheaded the decoupled Drupal development, while Hoorooh Digital supported the website’s frontend design.

What is Decoupled Drupal?

A decoupled CMS allows developers to utilize any technology to render the front-end experience (“the glass” where a user interacts with an application) in lieu of the theming and presentation layers that come with a coupled CMS out-of-the-box. In a decoupled Drupal architecture, the Drupal back end exposes content to other front-end systems, such as native mobile applications, conversational UIs, or applications built in JavaScript frameworks.

JavaScript frameworks are increasing in popularity due to the demand for more flexibility in the front end, in addition to the promise of increased productivity and maintainable code. Many JavaScript frameworks exist, but some of the most popular include Ember, React, and Angular.

Drupal can function as a services layer to allow content created in the Drupal CMS to be presented through a JavaScript framework. Drupal’s robust collection of web services and flexible APIs means that any system can consume data from Drupal with ease.

Boreal Mountain takes on Decoupled Drupal 8

Elevated Third lead the development of Boreal Mountain Resort's decoupled Drupal 8 site. Boreal can leverage Drupal as a content repository, which exposes content and data for consumption by their preferred Javascript framework in the front end. With Drupal 8, any team can take advantage of Drupal’s RESt-API out-of-the-box.

By positioning Drupal 8 at the center of their digital system, Powdr can power their flagship site, in addition to brand’s like Boreal, all on one platform. This provides front-end designers with flexibility, and allows them to customize their approach for each brand under the Powdr umbrella. This means that each resort can maintain their unique identity.

Drupal 8 also ensures that Boreal will be able to scale development today and tomorrow. Elevated Third utilized Drupal 8 on the back end to build a componentized architecture. These Drupal components allow marketing teams to easily reuse content types, and quickly compile new page configurations. This means that Boreal can continue to efficiently scale their site, and other Powdr brands can also take advantage. The team at Elevated Third was able to help Soda Springs, a sister resort to Boreal, spin up their own site in just a week’s time thanks to this components strategy.

Bringing the slopes to any screen

With the flexibility of a decoupled Drupal 8 architecture, Boreal now offers their customers an engaging digital experience that brings the mountain to any device or screen. In fact, Boreal has already witnessed a 45% decrease in bounce rate. With intuitive navigation to season passes and resources to plan a trip, 50% of users have also entered a purchase path right from the home page.

Few trends are spreading more rapidly than Decoupled CMS, and the ability to take advantage of other front-end technologies, in addition to those native to Drupal, offers a growing opportunity for digital teams. However, what does it take to bring your site off the decoupled Drupal bunny hill?

If you are looking to build an expert decoupled Drupal site, check out A Decoupled Drupal Story: Powdr Gives Developers Ultimate Flexibility to Build Best CX Possible Webinar on June 15th, 2017 at 1pm EDT.

In this webinar, Elevated Third, Hoorooh Digital, and Acquia will take a deep dive into the utility of decoupled Drupal for Powdr’s 18 ski resorts, how they were able to spin up sites quickly, and the hurdles they faced during the year-long project. You’ll also learn:

  • How a custom Drupal 8 solution cut implementation time in half vs Drupal 7
  • The ease in which Drupal 8’s internal REST API can be extended to fit a client's needs
  • The details of handling non-Drupal application routing on Acquia's servers

Joe Flores (Senior Developer, Elevated Third), Andy Mead (Drupal Developer, Elevated Third), Chris Cruz (Co-founder, Hoorooh Digital), and Corey Wood (Technical Account Manager, Acquia) will be your guides to help navigate even the steepest of decoupled Drupal terrain.

“If you’re interested in running a decoupled architecture on Acquia or debating snowboards over skis, you should attend.” - Andy Mead, Elevated Third.

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