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Project brief

We were tasked with building an intranet service from the ground up, going back to the drawing board and understanding where other similar systems fail and where they win, and to use this to design a brand new system that best suits people's working patterns and needs. In the process, we have not only built a dependable intranet that includes all the features you would expect such as document managment, contract management, contacts directory and collaboration spaces etc. We have gone a step further and built in a fully integrated 'Skype' like communication app to provide instant messaging/video conferencing to any other user in the organisation, directly in the browser.

Analysis

We spent a lot of time researching existing platforms to find out why so many people disliked using them, as it was out of this lack of a 'good' alternative that the people at Hub decided to design and build a new competitor.

Implementation

Hub Intranet site

Building on Drupal 7 we first implemented the basic features using a combination of contributed modules and custom modules, for example, we could not find a suitable document managment module so we developed our own to better suit our client's needs. As this intranet is to be targeted at non-technical organisations such as the automotive industry, the primary focus was to make this system as simple as possible to use, and visually appealing. 

Many intranets are simply seen as 'a means to an end', something that has to be used, but we wanted the Hub to be a system people want to use. To do this we integrated personalised RSS and Twitter feeds as well as games to keep staff entertained and provide respite during the workday.

The most complex feature is the bespoke communications app that provides 'Skype' like functionality but integrates into the hub user/content management systems to provide live updates when new content is created. For this we created a Node.js framework to handle message transactions and storage, we took inspiration from Drupal's module and hook system to make the framework flexible and easily extendable.

Conclusion

This is one of our finest works in terms of style, user-experience and functionality. It perfectly fits the brief we were given and the client could not be happier with the end result. They intend to use City Web Consultants for all future extensions and enhancements.

Client feedback

I can't say enough good things about working with CWC, I had a vision, which in truth was quite 'blurred' but after initial discussions with CWC that vision soon became laser-focussed. They helped us replace our assumptions with actual end-user requirements and feedback that directed the later development.

Every step of the way, they were able to see ahead and side-step any nasty project blockers and in the end delivered a system that was bang on the brief, and ahead of schedule.

Truly recommended.

-- A. Mortimer, Managing Director 

 

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