A central digital publishing platform to bring consistency & operational efficiency for a multisite brand

Rapid rollout of 15+ websites with component-based development and Drupal 8, reducing the development time by half

15+ Brands migrated onto the new platform
1 mn+ Stories migrated
50% Drop-in development time and cost

Crain Communications is one of the largest privately owned business media companies with 55 leading business, trade, and consumer brands in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are based out of Detroit, Michigan.

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  • Built a digital publishing platform on Drupal 8 for a multisite brand
  • Customized, unique individual brand sites for their respective themes through component-based development, over the core brand element based profile
  • Migrated 1 million+ stories dating from 1995 without compromising on the best practices across SEO, performance, and media management.

As a leading business with multiple brands associated with it, managing a number of websites, each operating on a different CMS proved to be a challenge. Disparate technology systems also introduced operational inefficiencies and the rising costs of maintenance.

Providing a central governance model would help efficiently manage the different web properties while also lowering down the cost. The new digital initiative was to ensure brand consistency and operational efficiency.


Crain had the sole objective of eliminating its digital sprawl and setting up a unified, and highly configurable digital platform. They wanted this platform to enable business teams to effectively narrate their distinct brand stories and offer a rich customer experience. With an intuitive and simple backend that would let content editors take control of the websites, reducing dependencies on their IT teams.


Each brand in the client's family was operating on its own web platform. Rolling out a new digital initiative across all brands would require a lot of coordination and time. These disparate technologies and systems also introduced operational inefficiencies. As there was no central governance in place, and websites were working independent of each other, storage costs were rising, and sites were not managed efficiently.

  • Multiple platforms. Rolling out common features
  • Empowering digital teams to quickly publishing content. Doing A/B testing.
  • Creating new pages together. Reusing components from other pages. To be able to do by themselves and not be dependant on developers


Running a total of 20 websites on different versions of the proprietary CMS proved to be costly in the long run for CRAIN. 

With our proven thought leadership and Acquia as our technology partner, we helped clear all doubts about Drupal’s capability as the platform of choice in such large-scale digital transformation projects. Our time-tested execution processes, component-based architecture approach, and the wide media-industry experience won the mandate of Crain’s CIO.

The approach was to leverage the Acquia Lightning, a distribution of Drupal 8, to enable component-based development as well as deploy a Lightning sub-profile on a multi-site architecture for all the brand sites.

These new design templates, overhauling the design and site appearance based on the and the global style guide were built out using Pattern Lab, which is now the central place to see all components within the platform as well as the specific ones used by the brands.

Check out EzContent - The INtelligent Drupal CMS

Empowered Editors with Acquia Lightning

With a ready bank of components in the global style guide, editors could now choose a layout and components from the library for a new page they want to create without being dependent on the developers. This reduced page creation & publishing time, ensuring a better editorial experience, increased re-usability of the sub-components, while maintaining consistent user experience.

We built a unified, scalable Drupal 8 platform that drives Crain digital presence. We rolled out 20+ websites onto the new platform, 4 of them within 6 weeks, and migrated 1 million+ stories dating from 1995 without compromising on best practices across SEO, performance, and media management.

With a central publishing platform on Drupal 8, we reduced the development time by 50% compared to an earlier estimate (if websites were done independently) and at a much lower cost.

  • Ability to create sections, layouts - based on time of the day
  • Transform ads on layout/ homepage/ any page.
  • Teams that manage revenue have more control over. With Drupal, they can do things in a shorter time without dependence on tech teams. The Adage for example - during Superbowl can create pages

Business benefit

  • The rapid rollout of 15+ brands with 50% drop-in development time and cost
  • The engineering team’s time is freed up - the first brand was able to set up around 50 landing pages without needing any developer intervention.
  • Migrated 1 million+ stories dating from 1995 without compromising on the best practices across SEO, performance, and media management.

Looking to build intelligent and agile digital publishing infrastructure? Let's talk about how Srijan can help.

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