Our greatest challenge to date.
MusicFest Canada is the biggest educational music festival in North America. We were volunteering with MusicFest since 2013 helping with their website, that was a series of .NET pages written with mix of content and functionalities. Yes, there was no CMS and all build from the need and evolved. Over time, each piece of data would fall behind and the long non-layered web architecture became challenging to keep up. With our initiative pro-bono work, we covered separating the content pieces of the website from all individual pages and organizing them in a CMS and we left all the functions in the backend .NET system. Separating information and public content from the member’s specific content, we were able to start dealing with the real beast! The backend functionalities and all the went into running this massive annual festival for the past 40 years.
We have known MusicFest Canada and have had the opportunity of working with them for few years. In our first effort in 2012, we were able to separate the Content of the website from the rest of the management system and establish a CMS that was much easier to administrate and update.
When Musicfest approached us in 2015 and asked to improve their system, we didn’t immediately realize the complexity of that task.
This was a web-based ASP.NET application that was build to convert CSV and Excel spreadsheets to an application in earlier years. The system had functioned for many years, but as the festival grew in size and operation scale, there were numerous changes in the functionality that needed serious attention.
MusicFest Executive Director and board trusted us with our full working solution proposal. Since then, we have worked closely with them to capture the functionalities the system embeds, for various roles operation needs, and how they each interact with it.
Our final product had to be a unified proprietary system build on top of the most advanced frameworks and stacks of code. It had to be scalable and could accommodate the future growth. Meanwhile, we had to integrate all the festival needs from scholarship applications to traveling and accommodation arrangements to critical financial data, all of which being key to a successful festival.
Depending on the role (Administrator, Festival Director, Band Director, Student, Volunteer, Advertiser, etc…) each user has access to specific key features.
For example, administrators can:
These key features are part of hundreds of features that basically allow all the different participants to do their share in the organization of the annual event that is MusicFest Canada.
Managing thousands of rows in dozens of tables could be a nightmare without the proper tools. Each dashboard in the console has a first section named “Express filters”.
This allows users to filter the data in one click, based on the most frequent filters. In this case, the user can see all the bands, only the one invited, or only the one registered.
If users need to go deeper, they can use the regular filters. Each feature of the console has been optimized to offer the needed filters. Here, in the school section, it’s possible to filter by status, category, invited year, and province.
It is even possible to combine filters:
Each and every feature on the website allows fast loading, one click saving, and exporting. It is made possible by a strong Jquery engine, improved by our front-end web developers in order to complete the back-end work. We’ve designed easy to use dashboards and forms, so anyone can make changes.
For hardcore data filtering, we’ve added a powerful custom report module that allows administrators to literally export anything they need.
It is user-friendly and uses Ajax to deliver a seamless experience.
Speaking of complicated procedures, MusicFest impressed us with the amount of challenges in developing many micro-systems. One of which was to develop a scheduling system that follows the procedure around setting up stages and scheduling various performances during the festival.
While we were building the business application, we started working on the public site redesign. The previous website had been made 3 years ago and lacked some essential aspects such as an improved mobile version (almost 30% of all visits happen on a mobile during the festival itself), better UX, simplified Content management system, and an optimized Information Architecture.
The previous website in 2014:
The website today:
We spent hours decrypting 4 years of website analytics to build the new Information Architecture.
The main challenge was to build a public website with information easily accessible for every type of user and each specific period of the year.
As a matter of fact, it turned out that we could identify 3 grand periods in the year:
We then built a new front-end made optimized for these three periods. The CMS itself is built to accomodate that specifity. Therefore, it is incredibly easy to switch from one to another.
MusicFest team and visitors were excited to see 2016’s Festival starting with a fresh new website and the response they were amazing!
We compared the analytics from festival 2015 to festival 2016 and it confirmed our predictions.
The number of sessions went up and the duration of visits went down. It shows that visitors find what they’re looking for faster on the new website.