Michael Trompeta is Lead Engineer at Galavantier, a modern-day travel agency that features one-of-a-kind destination getaways for travelers who want to reduce complexity and guarantee smart choices. Follow him on twitter & instagram: @mikeejt.
New-school travel agency, old-school website
What started as an e-commerce business selling Las Vegas attractions evolved into a company that builds technology tools for travel. For example, most recently, we launched Table Builder, which lets you book your own nightlife table at a club, and Group Payment, which lets multiple people share payments for bookings made through our website.
Almost all of our business comes through our website. It’s hugely important. Much of our traffic comes from people on iPhones who want to make last-minute bookings to Vegas. Our site required them to zoom in to click a link. We needed to convert it to be responsive and mobile-friendly. We also wanted to increase our SEO rankings.
BEFORE: Didn’t I already fix that bug?
Our website development process was pretty bad before Pantheon. We update frequently, with one or two deployments a week. Anything from hotfixes to performance fixes to new features. But we didn’t have a proper dev and test environment. Even though we were using git through a dedicated virtual server, we had to support it ourselves. We used to overwrite each other’s changes all the time. Someone would FTP the files to our production server, and the site would go down. Or, you’d see a bug. I thought I fixed that!We were always having to debug the live site. I had to become a sys admin, which, as a developer, I don’t like to do.
AFTER: Cool workflows! No stepping on toes.
We moved to Pantheon when we migrated to Drupal 7. It was a good time to reset best practices and workflows. Since then, our team of 5 developers has used Pantheon daily. The developers own the back end, while the marketing team owns the content and the front end.
Pantheon already has all the workflows set up—from Varnish to git. We just pull from dev to test. Once everything is good, we push to live. Our website doesn’t go down from bugs anymore. Pantheon is really a lifesaver. And when Pantheon came out with Multidev and git branching, that was perfect timing.
How we used Multidev to build a new website in 1 month
We’d just decided to make our website more responsive when Multidev came out. We’re always working on multiple branches and developing multiple features. We’d already been branching locally, but we weren’t able to test on Pantheon before Multidev.
Multidev allowed us to develop the new website on a separate branch, so we didn’t have to change the live site. Now we can branch and test before merging our changes, so we can introduce new features without introducing bugs or overwriting each other’s work. For example, if one of us needs to make a hot fix, we can switch branches, make the hot fix, test it on master, then push it back up. It’s as simple as switching a branch. Pantheon takes away the headaches of developers jumping over each other, inadvertently updating and cleaning up each other’s changes.
A smooth ride to the top of Google
Most enterprise websites take about 6 months to convert into responsive, mobile-friendly sites. Our team made the switch in 1 month—along with redoing our entire look-and-feel. We couldn’t have relaunched so fast without Pantheon and Multidev.
Business has been picking up ever since we rolled out our new look. The responsive, mobile-friendly site looks natural on every device, and elevated our Google SEO rankings. We’ve noticed an increase in traffic because so many people search for our site from their mobile devices. When the site relaunched, we increased visitors by 300%.
Two tips for other developers:
1. Always branch from the master for a new feature, then merge once you’re done. You never know when you’re going to have to hotfix a critical bug live. If you’re working on a new feature on dev, it stops you from pushing to live.
2. Take your time to migrate. Migration is a huge deal. We migrated to Drupal 7 at the same time that we switched to Pantheon. Our data structures and content types are quite complicated. We totally underestimated the time it would take, and had many all-nighters at work. My advice is to try to migrate slowly until you can migrate fully to Pantheon. And estimate your time well!Topics: Education