The Great Limerick Run is one of the fastest growing running events in the Republic of Ireland. It includes a 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon event. The 2013 event is on track to attract 10 000 runners, up from 8 000 in 2012.
The project was designed to deliver clear static content regarding the various events, online presence and engagement for every entrant, and an attractive presentation of Limerick City as a destination.
In order to deliver a technically comprehensive and robust community site we needed a CMS that we were confident could deliver and be shaped to suit our purpose, before the details of our purpose were clear.
We are a very small development team delivering large functionality on small budgets. With Drupal we are able to easily access the API documentation and rapidly test the large library of contributed modules before we spend resources on building bespoke solutions. This way we are confident to promise our clients functionality within budget.
Other CMS's considered were Wordpress and Joomla. With Wordpress we felt that there would be a point as the project evolves that we would have to limit our ambitions around the limitations of the CMS. With Drupal we felt that that, if needs be, we would never be limited in the potential to customise it to our purpose. With Joomla the mixed licensing model of modules made it too difficult to experiment and find the correct modules to use. We felt that core Joomla does not deliver enough functionality and finding suitable extensions is difficult and expensive.
The event organiser's key objectives were broadly divided between engaging the many local runners in a long term online community as well as attracting a higher number of serious runners from further afield. We had a 12 week window to build and deliver the website.
The strategy was four-fold:
1 - High quality graphical design and easy to find static content regarding the race to reinforce the quality of the event
2 - Every entrant to get a user account for life which allows them to blog and interact with other entrants
3 - A blog system with guest bloggers to deliver engaging content to site users on an ongoing basis
4 - Online 'self service' account available for any local business giving them blogs, special offers and a map presence. This is to present a positive picture of Limerick City as an attractive destination for the event.
These points led to a few technical challenges:
1 - Migration of 3 previous years of runner data into new Drupal users (we got over 20 000 unique details in Excel format!)
2 - Integration with the remote online payment system to register and log entrants into Drupal users
3 - Easy self service registration of local businesses
4 - Management of static content by the clients as event details evolved
Point 1 to 3 were managed by using PHP and the Drupal API. We were able to convert the Excel format into a separate sql database and parse over it with a PHP routine using Drupal function calls to cleanly and reliably create new users into the Drupal database. Similarly we have PHP parser at the event booking system side sending remote calls to a PHP file on our server adding new registrations via the Drupal API.
We used the Drupal form API to create a bespoke and easy to use business registration form with only the fields we required presented to the user.
For static content management, we were able the forego any backend management panels (for a large site these get very confusing for many users). Using the user rights matrix we were able to give a direct 'edit' link on each content page that the clients needed to change on an ongoing basis. This enabled a more efficient workflow where we are able to spend time on development and not content management and user confusions.
This was our first Drupal project of this scale and we benefited greatly from the amazing community and documentation. It was also a huge learning curve for us and we are looking forward to learning even more and giving back in a meaningful way. Thank You Drupal community.
Michael Jonker (citkane) - Information Architect
Conor Buckley - Visual Design
Eventmaster Online Booking:
Mike O'Sullivan - Systems Integration
John Cleary - Race organiser
Joe Leddin - Race organiser