The Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Drupal Case Study

The Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins of the National Football League (NFL) needed to overhaul their outdated website before the beginning of the 2009 season. The Dolphins have a storied legacy and are the oldest continuous professional sports franchise in the state of Florida. The Dolphins wanted to better outreach and connect with their fan base and integrate in more modern, social media and networking tools. 

Project Goals

The Dolphins wanted to better outreach and connect with their fan base and integrate in more modern, social media and networking tools. They had explored several proprietary content management system (CMS) options, but ultimately decided on Drupal. Mediacurrent partnered with Crossborders, a content creation company, to completely restructure the functionality and design of the old site. 

Challenges & Solutions

The Dolphins have a feature-rich site that integrates a number of third-party applications. For example, the site uses live statistic feeds, video for events like press conferences, and is completely bilingual site (English and Spanish). Mediacurrent adhered to strict NFL formatting guidelines and the user interface was custom themed throughout to meet meticulous styling requirements.

In addition, the Dolphins wanted to implement a site that gave fans a highly compelling web experience- from daily videos, live press conferences, injury reports, and interviews to keep fans highly engaged in the team’s activities.

However, the Dolphins needed a scalable content management system that still allowed administrators and technical staff to seamlessly maintain the site. They also needed to construct the site architecture in a way to handle game-day traffic spikes and be scalable enough to further customize the site in the future.

Mediacurrent leveraged Drupal’s strong flexibility, modular framework, and unlimited extensibility. The work completed involved a full frontend design overhaul, while balancing administrative hurdles to managing content. The Dolphins site features an “Aquavision” subpage that is a video portal used to highlight the teams community outreach and involvement among other things. Another unique aspect of the site was the “Dol-fans” section that caters to three distinct age categories: kids, teens, and adults. Each group can enter the page and read about content specially targeted at them.

To assist with performance issues Mediacurrent relied on Akamai as a content delivery network (CDN) and caching tool. Akamai can serve over 90% of the static content to anonymous users so a single, though robust, server is more than adequate to host the site.

Featured Modules

We also built our own solutions, and developed custom modules from scratch in order to meet requirements. Some of those modules included:

  • Stats: We created an API to integrate with Stats.com, which allowed us to pull and parse statistical data which updates both game and player content at scheduled intervals.
  • Aquavision: This module powers the custom video section creating video channels and show categories as well as photo albums from content hosted by Akamai.
  • Gameday: It dynamically updates the gameday sections and switches content based on game and special event schedules.
  • Theme-Switcher: This is actually two sites in one (Miami Dolphins and Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders) a switching mechanism was developed to manage all content from a single Drupal instance per the Dolphins requirements.
  • Widgets: To make management of the many custom Flash widgets easier, we developed a single module to handle widget content feeds.
Final Thoughts

The collaborative effort between Mediacurrent, Crossborders, and the Dolphins has resulted in one of the most sophisticated, interactive, and professional websites in the sports industry. The Dolphins have created the in-depth fan experience they craved, while improving the site’s navigation, multimedia technologies, and social networking capabilities. Of course, the fans have played a big part in the site’s enhancement.

The site continues to receive positive feedback, and reinforces the Dolphins brand recognition. The editing tools of Drupal enable the Dolphins staff to quickly and easily update content and other assets. Most importantly, there are no ongoing licensing fees and the total cost of ownership to maintain the site is much lower than other NFL teams. Drupal’s flexibility will also allow for monetization strategies, particularly around advertising.