The Nerdery, along with Minneapolis based agency GdB, partnered together on a rebuild of AmericInn’s website. GdB handled design while The Nerdery provided UX and development. We built the website in .NET with Sitecore.
In search of a new agency partner and development shop, AmericInn put out an RFP on rebuilding their website. Their old site lacked the functionality they needed and the content management system wasn’t as flexible as it needed to be; a priority for any new website. They wanted a powerful, robust content management system (CMS) that would allow them to easily create content, promotions, and re-theme the site for a set period of time. AmericInn, on behalf of its’ 200+ franchisees, also wanted to be able to update hotel images, specials and area attractions via a CMS capable of handling permission structure, simultaneous sign-ons, e-commerce and multiple third-party API processing. After reviewing the responses to their RFP, GdB and The Nerdery were chosen by AmericInn as their selected partners.
Before beginning design and development, The Nerdery’s user experience (UX) team dug into AmericInn’s online needs with user-personas research and wireframing to make sure we built a site with the features they, and their customers, needed. Once finished, GdB started designing the front-end interface while The Nerdery moved forward on development.
AmericInn’s old website was built with Magento and was unable to accommodate their needs. Based on our interviews with AmericInn’s team and UX findings, we opted to use Sitecore as the content management system, built within the .NET framework. For front-end development we used HTML5 and CSS3 with support of IE7+. The Nerdery hosted three two-hour Sitecore 101 training sessions with AmericInn, showing them how to add sites, add/update content and publish.
A central focus in development was creating a robust search engine for AmericInn’s new site. Using Google’s API, we implemented a curated search tool that allows users to search for a city, airport, attraction or address and find the nearest AmericInn to their destination while also using the search to find nearby attractions to each AmericInn location. To help organize the data to relevant results, and keep it family-friendly, we incorporated the ability for AmericInn’s team to remove results through the Sitecore CMS. Local attractions are tied in to Yelp using Yelp’s API, giving users reviews and photos, when available. Additionally, AmericInn utilizes three analytic vendors: Omniture, TagMan and Google Analytics. Each required unique scripts, a process we automated when a new site is created.
Despite some early challenges we were able to provide AmericInn with a brand new site with powerful CMS features and configurations. AmericInn’s marketing department was easily able to do all of the content entry themselves despite never having used Sitecore before, giving them the freedom to easily update their own site for the first time.