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Drupal website development working with a design agency.

The Challenge

At its core this project saw the requirement for an eCommerce solution being developed, however, we knew from the outset that in time a number of different sites would be required that would all utilise the same code so things had to be developed in a scalable fashion. What we were essentially creating was a platform on which new sites could be built without huge overhead. Not all the sites would require the same functionality so each would be configured to use only the relevant functionality from the core platform. ComputerMinds handled the development side of things with a design agency providing us with designs to drive the development.

We also needed to make sure that the sites tied in nicely with the client's ERP solution, which meant writing some magic to tie the two together seamlessly.

Our Solution

On this project we worked alongside a design agency who handled all the aesthetic side of things freeing us up to focus on the technical stuff, which we explore further below.

Same code, different site.

This project required a number of different sites that all utilise the same underlying code. Whilst each site is distinct and this isn't a Drupal multisite setup an approach was taken to maintain only one codebase which we could then use as a starting point for new sites as and when they were needed.

The huge advantage of taking this approach was that once the initial development was completed it became quick and easy to build new sites that leveraged common functionality between the sites. So all we had to focus on was theming and configuring the new sites as required.

ERP Integration

This project saw a requirement to fully integrate with the client's ERP solution, System 21. This included an automatic price and stock migration every night, and full product data storage in a "product import" database used as an API based resource.

An eCommerce Solution

eCommerce functionality was a key requirement for this project and as a starting point we used the Drupal Commerce suite of modules to do much of the heavy lifting for us. Due to this requirement and the fact that Drupal Commerce doesn't have a stable Drupal 8 release the decision was taken early on for us to develop using Drupal 7.

As is common with Drupal by using contributed modules to take care of most of the generic functionality we were left free to focus on the specific requirements that were unique to our client's use case. This approach not only ensures our code is more robust due to the rigorous process of peer review that contributed modules go through, but it also has the major advantage of meaning we can focus solely on our client's specific requirements saving both time and money!

Flexible Page Layouts

In order to give content editors maximum control over how we render certain pages we make use of 'tiles' to allow editors to build up engaging pages from a set of predefined 'tiles'. Styling is consistently applied so the focus can be on the content!