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Putting readers first with a purposely built solution

Media and Publishing
Content Migration
Northern Ireland's leading daily overcame limitations caused by their legacy CMS. Streamlining workflows empowered content creation, and automatic updates allowed them to prioritize reader engagement and seamlessly introduce new features, ultimately driving subscription growth.


The Irish News, iconic media brand from Belfast with a long history was running on an old CMS, Kolumbus from D-Share, costly and not adapted anymore to the new publishing landscape. They needed to move fast to a modern platform.


We helped them migrate to Arc XP in a record 4 month period, for a very limited budget, relying heavily on all the standard features from Arc XP. CMS, Front-end, Subscribers, mobile applications, everything was changed in a sort of big bang migration.

How do you migrate 400K articles and thousands of subscribers, relaunch 2 apps, and rebuild the front end within 4 months?

Our typical media projects range from 6 to 12 months. A media website is a complex entity, and the CMS is just one component of the entire system. To effectively manage such projects within this tight timeframe, leveraging the native features of Arc XP is crucial.

Fortunately, Arc XP offers most of the features The Irish News required right out of the box:

  • Composer: An easy-to-use WYSIWYG interface for journalists, as intuitive as Word.
  • Page Builder: A powerful drag-and-drop UI that allows for the creation of templates and pages from blocks, while being fully headless.
  • Front-End Engine: A catalog of several dozen responsive, flexible blocks, powered by a React-based engine.
  • Subscribers Management and Paywall: Tools to manage subscribers and restrict content access.
  • I/O Feeds: Outbound and inbound feeds to seamlessly distribute content from the CMS to mobile apps and print platforms.
  • SEO and Sitemaps: Features to enhance search engine visibility.
  • Workflow and Newsroom Organization: A platform integrated with communication tools like Teams or Slack for efficient workflow management.
  • CDN and Front-End Hosting: Ensures fast content delivery and website performance.
  • Digital Assets Management: A fully operational platform, including a Photo Center and a video center, for managing digital content, making live streams, or publishing HD Photos for print purposes.

Our role in the project involved several critical steps:

  1. Content Acquisition: Gain access to existing content (articles, photos, and subscriber information) from D-Share, which was somewhat uncooperative for understandable reasons.
  2. CMS Configuration: Set up and configure Arc XP with the appropriate content structure, including article types and sections.
  3. Content Migration: Migrate approximately 400,000 articles to the new system.
  4. Front-End Development: Build front-end pages and templates, including sections for home, articles, lists, tags, authors, and search functions.
  5. Subscriber Migration: This was particularly challenging due to the encryption of sensitive subscriber data, such as payment tokens and passwords. We developed a streamlined process to onboard them onto the new system, including resetting their passwords.
  6. Mobile App Integration: Integrate data with PugPig, who manage the mobile app for The Irish News.
  7. Analytics and Tracking: Configure analytics and tracking across the entire site.
  8. Custom Features Development: Build or integrate custom features, such as the popular community notices posted by readers about significant events.
  9. Launch: Successfully launch the revamped platform.

Our team faced strong objectives and constraints, making the project a push towards these goals. The challenge was more about coordination and less about technology, involving multiple parties including Arc XP teams, D-Share, PugPig, Irish News' technical staff, editors, top management, and others. The effort required significant human coordination across all these groups.

Why migrate to Arc XP?

Here’s a more concise and polished version of your text:

Arc XP stands out as the premier CMS for media companies today. Unlike free or more traditional CMS options like Drupal or WordPress, Arc XP is specifically designed to manage newsrooms and websites for media publishers.

Many newspapers, including The Irish News, face the challenge of fixed operating costs when managing their digital presence. Running a media website is technically demanding, given its complexity, which includes numerous features to maintain, adapt, integrate, or build:

- Front-end, back-end, and API interactions
- Newsroom workflows
- Media planning
- Newsletters
- Print integration
- Subscriber management, paywalls, and payment gateways
- User-friendly journalist UI
- AI capabilities
- Mobile apps for iOS and Android
- API updates from various vendors and tools
- SEO, tracking, and analytics

Maintaining and developing these components requires a diverse skill set within your team. This includes backend developers (PHP, Node, or Python), front-end developers (React, Angular, or Vue), and, for those using an open source CMS, expertise in Drupal or WordPress, headless page builder or at least a layout manager, workflow engine, mobile app development using Flutter or React Native or Kotlin, and AWS or Azure hosting DevOps. Our experience suggests that a media publishing house needs a minimum of six developers to sustain the pace of innovation and adaptation to usage trends, social platforms, and new content forms.

In most EU/US locations, employing six developers would cost at least $500,000 annually. In an era of dwindling subscribers, reduced ad revenue, and complex SEO, these are significant costs that many companies seek to avoid.

What are the best CMSes today?

For us, without going into a detailed headless CMS comparison, the top headless CMSes today are :

  • Arc XP
  • Storyblok
  • Hygraph
  • Glide Publishing
  • Strapi

As you may see you have a lot of CMS options.

Why not Strapi?

While Strapi is an excellent open-source headless CMS, it is not well-suited for the media industry due to several reasons:

- It lacks industry-specific features such as a Word-like WYSIWYG editor for journalists, advanced workflows, publishing planning, print integration, and a powerful digital asset management (DAM) system.
- Strapi still requires users to manage their own front-end and security updates.
- It demands a substantial development team to operate effectively.

Consumer App
Software Engineering
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Content Migration
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