Books

Brief

Herts for Learning (HfL) is a not for profit education company, delivering education and business services in Hertfordshire and beyond. This is in addition to providing online and offline, free and paid for, resources and products.

This project involved the re-design and re-development of the existing Herts for Learning website, integrating their standalone ecommerce and blog solutions, as well as restructuring how they managed user access to private content and files (which together formed a number of purchasable subscriptions).

The HfL digital team brief also included a number of other requirements, such as:

  • More flexible page templates
  • A fresh look and feel, in keeping with the existing brand guidelines
  • The ability to surface elements of content for anonymous users that had historically been hidden

 

Solution

Working with the HfL digital team, the site launched in November 2017. It featured the following:

  • All resources created as individual products available to search and purchase. As subscription content was previously managed almost entirely within Organic Groups, it had been difficult to demonstrate the breadth of resources offered. This new structure also allows flexibility in terms of selling resources individually, as well as part of subscriptions/packages.
  • Component led pages. In the design phase we worked with the HfL team to build up a bank of components, and a suitable page layout, that could be used for different content types. This included a number of components that use taxonomy terms to dynamically surface content and products for an easy cross sell.
  • The ability to create and sell subscriptions allowing access to restricted web content and/or files. This was significant in that previously all subscriptions were sold offline and manually managed. In addition, auto-renewal (based on recurring payments) was built into this feature.
  • Multi-tiered accounts. One of the key requirements was to provide education providers with the ability to create sub-accounts for their staff/departments, that could be assigned permission to access to the products they had purchased i.e a download or a subscription. The implementation has also been left open to accommodate for Multi Academy Trust accounts in future.

Technical highlights

At the start of the project Drupal Commerce had not reached full release status for Drupal 8, nor had many of the Commerce contrib modules that one would generally rely on during a Drupal Commerce build. However, despite this risk, the HfL project schedule and Drupal Commerce releases converged at the right time so that a robust, flexible implementation of a complex set of e-commerce requirements could be delivered on time and on budget.

Some key technical highlights for this project revolved around the Drupal 8 Commerce development:

  • Secure digital asset distribution and reporting.
  • Integration with Apache Solr to offer enterprise level search functionality across a variety of content and product types.
  • Social media integration, including dynamic embedding of related Twitter streams.
  • Custom subscription functionality with auto-renewal that creates a new a order, processes payment and preserves access to products.
  • Controlled access and subscription expiry via the Flag API.
  • Bespoke notification system to allow users to be notified of updates to digital products so they can download the latest resources.
  • Migration of products (with auto generated SKUs) and users along with their existing subscriptions and purchases to keep access on the new site.
  • Handling of taxable and tax exempt products.
  • Contribution to various issues on drupal.org with three patches being committed - one to Drupal Commerce core and two to the Commerce Stripe module.
Website Screenshot