I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Prater Raines. We needed developers who could unlock the potential of our CMS and through their professionalism and expertise our website has been revitalised. For me, the most important thing is that they took time to ensure they understood our vision and processes resulting in high quality delivery with great results.
Ahmed Musa, Website Manager, Radical Middle Way
This Community Interest Company is a grassroots initiative created in the aftermath of the 2005 London bombings to articulate a mainstream understanding of Islam relevant to young British Muslims.
Prater Raines started working with the Radical Middle Way on incremental improvements to their existing website in October 2011 and were very excited to be selected to completely overhaul the site in conjunction with web design agency Make Me Believe.
We worked closely with both the client and the designer to create a website which is simple to use and update but also dynamic, attractive, and responsive.
The new build takes advantage of the company’s large existing resource of graphical, video, and audio material to create an engaging site that feels rich with content yet with a structure that is easy to understand and browse around.
We worked hard to understand the client’s processes for uploading content and developed a content management system which fits their exact requirements. Tools we’ve added to manipulate media files save staff time to concentrate on content creation instead of grunt work. We managed the transfer from the existing website without downtime and wrote code to migrate content without manual intervention.
The project is built on top of popular open source technologies that the client already had some exposure to, including PHP, Symfony, and MySQL.
Searchability was key to the redevelopment since nearly 55 GiB of video and audio is available for download or streaming from the site and content needed to be easy to find. The existing functionality was limited and based on simple substring matching, so we rewrote the search system using Lucene to create better results and include filtering based on format or topic and sorting by date, relevance, or popularity.
Much of the browsing functionality is implemented using AJAX and a selection of JQuery plugins are used to give the site a really responsive and interactive feel. The site connects to third party APIs including Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, and ShareThis to encourage visitor engagement.
The website is hosted by the client on a dedicated server running Microsoft Windows and part of our role was to provide advice on the best approaches to hosting PHP and Symfony on Windows.
By updating key software and providing guidance on hardware upgrades we’ve been able to dramatically improve site speed as part of the development process.