The Miami Dolphins Amplify Fan Experience With Drupal
The Miami Dolphins needed to overhaul their outdated website to connect with their fan base, integrating with more modern social media and networking tools. To restructure the site's functionality and design before the team's 2009 season, Mediacurrent partnered with Crossborders, a content creation company.
Getting Game-Day Ready
The site architecture needed to handle game-day traffic spikes and be scalable enough to further customize the site in the future. Drupal’s strong flexibility, modular framework, and unlimited extensibility were key.
Implementing Akamai as a content delivery network (CDN) and caching tool bolstered site performance. 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.
Challenges & Solutions
Engaging "Dol-fans" of Every Age
Mediacurrent adhered to strict NFL formatting guidelines. The user interface was custom themed throughout to meet meticulous styling requirements 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. 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 meet requirements for a feature-rich site with many third-party applications, several custom modules and solutions were developed:
- 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.
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.