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British Thoracic Society Umbraco CMS Redevelopment

The Client

The British Thoracic Society (BTS) website receives approximately 30,000 unique visitors per month and has over 3,000 registered users. The website hosts a range of extremely important and authoritative documents and materials that are used every day by respiratory health specialists in the UK and worldwide. The website is critical to BTS in achieving its organisational goals.

The Challenge

BTS had many challenges with its old CMS. The website had grown well beyond the scope of its original vision. It was becoming increasingly difficult for content editors to manage a diverse range of content, including events, news, information about conferences, documents and short courses.

The traditional approach to content management

Traditional website development often takes a simplistic approach that treats content as just being "pages", but as sites grow, unstructured content that is locked-in to specific pages soon becomes very difficult to manage. By adopting a structured approach, content becomes easier and less costly to maintain.

We used the power and flexibility of Umbraco to transform the way BTS manages its digital presence - implementing our core business values throughout the project.


Creative Thinking

BTS uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage its members. Agidea worked with BTS to integrate Microsoft Dynamics member logins, profile details and events information with the new Umbraco website.

We found that Umbraco’s extensible architecture made it relatively simple to integrate Microsoft Dynamics functionality into the website.

Umbraco - the best NHS and healthcare content management system?

Agidea was able to use Umbraco’s flexible Document Type system to build a resources library that met the exact needs of BTS.

We were able to quickly configure Umbraco back office user interfaces for managing document files, taxonomy, metadata schema and internal review policy.

Lean and agile processes

Agidea adopted an agile approach, dividing the project into multiple “sprints”, regularly delivering small features for BTS to review and test. Frequent contact with the BTS team and continuous feedback allowed us to be sure that we were delivering a solution that met (and in many cases exceeded) everyone’s expectations. Most of the time, when we needed to make changes, we implement them very quickly because of Umbraco’s flexibility - this helped us a lot.

The benefits of adopting a compatible content model for agility

Reuse and adaptability are vital if we want content to be shareable, discoverable and capable of publication to multiple platforms, including mobile devices. A content model can be represented in many ways, creating multiple deliverables from a set of reusable, reconfigurable modules of content from a single source.

Adopting a content model that uses repeatable structures and automated methods for display and delivery results in: Agile content; Automated delivery to multiple devices; Reduced costs of translation; Increased productivity; Higher quality materials.

Don Day, leading US content engineer says:

"Intelligent, structured content, whether in a textual, visual, or playable format, conforms to structural and semantic rules that allow machine processing to meet specific business requirements."

Championing Open Standards

Agidea champions open standards, delivering quality to recognised professional and technical standards, fostering agility.

We promote open industry standards; have an unwavering commitment to quality assurance and take pride in our planning and processes, enabling us to relentlessly attain transformative impact for our valued clients. We are proud to be proactive in adhering to W3C standards for application development. We want our developers to build the optimum engaging and interactive experiences to ensure data interacts seamlessly from every digital platform; from desktop, to IPAD, to mobile.

Sharing Knowledge

Our commitment to agile project management and Scrum software development ensures a highly flexible and interactive collaboration with our clients.

Our team who include certified Scrum Masters, work to support our valued clients, helping team members to use the Scrum process to perform at the highest level.

We share knowledge with our clients and invest in turning customers into informed partners to enrich their digital agility.

Examples of how Agidea used an intelligent content strategy

"Intelligent Content"is a term coined by Ann Rockley, a world-renowned expert in organising and presenting online information. The approach involves breaking down content into easily manageable and reusable chunks. As Rockley puts it:
"Intelligent content is content that’s structurally rich and semantically categorised and therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable."

Managing an events calendar and a publications library provide good examples of the benefits of a structured content approach.

BTS had tried various document management “plugins” for their previous CMS, but they seemed difficult to use and lack many requirements for BTS documents.

Plugin modules were very popular in the older generation of CMS products.

In WordPress and Drupal, for example, there are, quite literally, thousands of modules available that appear on the surface to cater for almost every situation.

In reality, the quality of such third party modules is variable and they can be time consuming to test and trial within an organisation.

Even good modules suffer from a number of inherent problems, including introducing confusingly inconsistent interfaces and terminology, different licensing conditions and the tendency to create disconnected islands of data that cannot be linked to other content.

Many projects have run ashore to the Siren song of plugin modules and all too often, sites that take the plugin route end up resembling a kind of Frankenstein's monster of a system.

Fortunately, the software industry has responded to this problem and the current generation of CMS products that includes Umbraco, Sitecore and EpiServer, provide vastly improved tools that allow us to take an elegant, holistic and structured approach to content management.


Delivering Transformational Impact

We drive our client campaigns to deliver digital innovation and real life impact and change whilst achieving organisational cohesion. We work to ensure the accessibility of web technologies is pervasive from CEOs; through to Content Managers; through to the end-user.

The Agidea Transform Solution

The previous BTS CMS had been clunky and difficult to manage. In some cases, this meant that important materials and documents were not reaching the people who needed them. The new Umbraco system tightly integrates document management with the rest of the website content, making everything easier to manage and easier to access.

The previous content management system was not integrated with Google Analytics. Thanks to our full integration, BTS has now gained key metrics relating to publications, including the Asthma Guideline, which is downloaded more than 6,000 times per month worldwide.

Our work resulted in BTS staff being able to manage content and upload documents much more quickly. Typically, tasks can now be completed approximately 4 times faster, resulting in time and costs savings throughout the organisation.

Our improvements have enabled a larger volume of content to be uploaded with greater frequency and with improved discoverability for site visitors. This has led to an upturn in the volume of unique visitors to the site and a decrease in bounce rate.

The British Thoracic Society (BTS) is delighted to have found Agidea to work with over the last year. The impact on the way we do things has gone way beyond the provision of the right software. The approach – from the initial meeting with Sam Flanagan, has demonstrated that Agidea provides added value beyond the quality of their products and the expertise of their team. Agidea has listened, understood, adapted and helped us to achieve a great new integrated website with plans for more in the year to come. We couldn’t be more pleased that we now have a business partner which can help us deliver more to our members, provide us with valuable management information and present us so well to the outside world.
Sheila Edwards, Chief Executive -  , The British Thoracic Society

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