How We Helped A Mass Media Leader Deliver New Digital Experiences Through A Hybrid CMS

<4s Portal page load time
0.5s - 1s Backend response time
<3s To render mobile apps pages
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Although the media industry has been successful in grappling and then embracing digital disruption, they are yet to gain one-upmanship over it. Digital transformation is a continuously evolving challenge for the media industry, not just in how content is presented or consumed, but also in how it is cohesively managed through digital platforms. 

The Client

Our client is a leading media conglomerate in Southeast Asia. From television, radio, to digital media properties, it encompasses the entire gamut of media coverage in multiple languages. 

One of their digital offerings is an end-to-end Chinese digital portal that contains a wide variety of content, ranging from breaking news, current affairs to the latest in entertainment and lifestyle through multi-platform storytelling. The client wanted to move the digital portal to a modern CMS that offers responsive UX capabilities and overall an enhanced digital experience for their users. 


We built a new portal and native mobile apps on top of a hybrid CMS to address the myriad digital needs of internal and external users of our client.

The Requirement

  • Move the existing portal from a fully decoupled CMS to a hybrid CMS.
  • Create custom pages and reusable layout components.
  • Rebuild the portal and native mobile apps with a fresh look and feel, as well as rich and responsive UX.
  • Migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 with the ability to auto-sync data from the existing CMS to the new one.

The Challenges 

  • Limited control over the existing CMS, less flexibility, high maintenance cost, and no reusability options across brands.
  • Little to no control over placement of information on pages like advertisements and recommendations.
  • High developer dependency to create pages and add components to article pages.
  • Lack of opportunities to effectively engage portal or application users.
  • Restricted content personalization.
  • Zero advanced search capabilities for CMS, web, and apps.

The Solution

We transitioned the portal from a fully decoupled CMS to a hybrid CMS, without compromising on core CMS capabilities. The hybrid CMS uses Drupal for both the frontend and backend.The mobile apps were built through native Android/iOS architecture and REST APIs being exposed for mobile users. The solution employed a two-pronged approach to address different needs; one for CMS users and the other for product users:

CMS Users

CMS users are now able to:

  • Easily curate content and tag pages.
  • Quickly add new components, features, and sections. For example, special reports, microsites, layouts, and so on.
  • Extensively leverage the drag and drop UI feature.
  • Safely push content by using the article locking feature.
  • Leverage SEO friendly modules to ensure the SEO readiness of content.
  • Exercise better control over advertisements.

Web site/App Users:

Chinese portal’s web and mobile users can now:

  • Read news, hassle free, due to the seamless interaction on the platform of their choice- desktop, tablet, or mobile.
  • Enjoy a personalized experience with news feeds based on their preferences.
  • View live and exclusive content in the form of live blogs, live broadcasting, and so on.
  • Easily share comments or feedback with the editorial team through WhatsApp or email.
  • Receive content recommendations from CIA and Outbrain.

Our Approach

The following diagram illustrates a top-level view of the CMS architecture:

overall approach

The transition to a hybrid CMS was executed through EzContent - a Drupal distribution built by Srijan, and with Acquia Cloud Platform as the host. For the web front end, we implemented the Emulsify Design System. We used the Swift and Kotlin programming languages for native iOS and Android implementation respectively. Additionally, third-party integrations for different platforms, such as Cloudinary, Brightcove, Algove, and Omny Studio, were built into the CMS. 

Tech Stack


Business Benefit

  • Higher user retention on the web portal and mobile apps through new and improved UX.
  • Content publishing cycle greatly reduced for content editors.
  • No developer intervention required to create unstructured landing pages via layout builder.
  • Readers receive Push notifications for breaking news and the most important stories of the day
  • Faster delivery of content and substantially lesser strain on the backend.
  • The client is planning to extend the capabilities of the hybrid CMS to other media brands in its portfolio.

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