Why use Umbraco?
RM Sotheby’s wanted to modernize their website and replace it with a more dynamic CMS with mobile support which could handle thousands of lots and hundreds of thousands of high-resolution images. The brand came to Stateside with a challenging list of requirements. After some initial graphic design rounds, we got the “go” to begin implementation on Umbraco.
We evaluated various CMSs and chose Umbraco because of the following reasons:
🚗 Offers a user friendly interface for content editors
🚗 Basically a standard ASP.NET web application that requires an attractive learning curve
🚗 Open source CMS with a thriving user community
🚗 Easy to develop for and easy to customize
🚗 Media Library’s ability to manage a large number of images with automatic resizing and cropping for multiple uses on the website
We set out to replace RM Sotheby’s outdated proprietary ColdFusion website with a modern easy-to-use CMS.
The biggest challenge was to make content easy to manage: 50 thousand (and growing) lots and auctions on top of 250 thousand images for these lots and auctions, each displayed in multiple places on the website with different dimensions and including the possibility for registered press users to download high-resolution versions.
Another challenge we took on was to make a storefront with catalogs and make available the option of paying for auction registrations, as well as develop a sophisticated search system for the ordering of results and featured lots.
Among other goals, we had to keep a high availability despite peaks in traffic reaching two thousand simultaneous users and two-way integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM for updates to lots and auctions.
Naturally, the new website had to be supported on mobile devices as well as smoothly handle the growing list of 30 thousand registered visitors.
We developed the website on Umbraco and hosted it in Microsoft Azure. The website contains more than 50 thousand content nodes and provides easy management of over 250k hi-res images and associated metadata, taking up over one terabyte TB of space in Azure Cloud Storage. We enabled automatic processing of around 20 crops of images, and even had two types of images with different sets of crops!
"The combination of Umbraco’s Media Library and the built-in Cropper media type, along with the open-source ImageProcessor project, makes for an extremely powerful image management tool,"
We used Azure CDN (Content Delivery Network) for fast delivery and increased performance by downloading the images directly from the CDN. We ensured high availability by using an Azure Load Balancer, Availability Sets, and Traffic Manager.
To keep back-end changes to content in sync with the website, we also developed the interface with MS Dynamics.
Several Umbraco packages made development easier: Vorto, Archetype, Relation Editor and Merchello. We also built several of our own packages to make life easier for content editors.
Here’s a list of a few more goals we’ve accomplished:
✔️ Fast searches using Examine/Lucene
✔️ Online store using Merchello
✔️ User registration for simple social tools
✔️ Employment of Hangfire for running and managing background batch tasks to process images and synchronize with the CRM
✔️ Support for multiple languages
✔️ RESTful APIs for accessing third party and media chain content
✔️ Excellent mobile and tablet support
✔️ Vanity URL support for featured content
✔️ Employment of frontend technologies like Angular.JS, Bower, Bootstrap and JQuery
The fact that Umbraco stays faithful to the design principles and best practices of ASP.NET meant that merging in our own pure ASP.NET components and code made development a pleasure!
Where are we today?
RM Sotheby’s website is currently running very well and stable on Microsoft Azure with peaks of over 2 thousand simultaneous users during auctions.
"Stateside’s implementation of our website using Umbraco has provided us with a much more user-friendly interface for making updates and keeping our site fresh and exciting. We love the ease with which we can manage a huge number of high resolution images - we just mark the important areas of the images and Umbraco takes care of the rest for us! The combination of Umbraco and Azure provides for a very stable, rapid and low-maintenance website,"