Health Resources in Action (HRiA) is a non-profit consulting organization creating healthy, equitable communities through prevention, health promotion, policy and research. The nonprofit manages dozens of websites for government agencies, foundations and other nonprofits.
The pandemic brought many changes to HRiA: their team almost doubled in size growing to 200 employees and their health-focused sites were getting unprecedented traffic spikes. Some of their bigger sites started to lag on the legacy platform so the search for a new provider began.
Christopher Whyte, HRiA’s Director of Technology, was a sole developer at the agency when Pantheon’s WebOps capabilities swayed him over. “Our legacy hosting was great but it came with some severe limitations that caused issues for us,” he recalled. “We didn’t have the right caching issues and had to deal with front-end logging disruptions. Processing database requests was becoming really onerous. We would have to wait 30 seconds for the system to process a request. When you are making one-word changes, you don’t want to sit there for an extended period of time.”
Whyte looked at on-demand cloud computing platforms and APIs but eventually decided against them to avoid a lot of hands-on management. He also considered big digital experience platforms that come with a packaged set of technologies for a seamless customer journey. Whyte discarded that option too as it seemed to lack flexibility.
Whyte’s requirements were clear: a reliable provider that would guarantee consistent uptime and offer specialized tools for WordPress and Drupal development.
HRiA’s websites were up and running on Pantheon in no time. Migrating their 30 sites – from simple spaces where coalitions can share resources and training to sophisticated integrated information and referral sites – went without a hitch.
The team, which has now grown to three, credited Pantheon’s Autopilot tool for relieving them of time-consuming maintenance tasks that would preclude them from focusing on their business priorities.
Autopilot is a productivity tool that automatically detects, performs, tests and deploys updates for WordPress and Drupal CMS solutions. Before Autopilot, the HRiA team had a sophisticated script to check for updates. But every time they ran updates on a website, they had to put it through SFTP, run an update, push it Live, commit those changes and then test those changes.
Now when we are working on a project, we have the latest core, theme and plugins. Autopilot’s been a really big time-saver. When we are running updates on the website, all we have to do is give it a cursory glance and then we can just push it Live.
- Christopher Whyte, HRiA’s Director of Technology
Another big win for the team was being able to focus on some important public-health initiatives that often lack funding. “When you have a really tight budget, it makes sense to really get Autopilot because you are freed up to work on other things,” he added.
With Autopilot saving the team an average of a few hours a month, they became more productive. Previously, when HRiA was making changes or updates to the sites, they were beholden to their clients to approve everything in Dev before pushing things Live. With Autopilot keeping everything automatically updated, HRiA can now skip that step.
The real test of Pantheon’s WebOps strength came at the start of 2022 when one of HRiA’s biggest properties had a massive traffic spike. The National Association of Community Health Workers site went from 24,000 visitors to 1.7 million in the course of one month. The traffic influx was attributed to the site being a central location for community health workers looking for information about federally provided free COVID-19 rapid tests.
“Watching the site go viral was really interesting as it meant we were providing important information to the community. It also showed how critical the WebOps platform really was. We never lost the site and that was an impressive feat,” said Whyte.
Whyte is now getting ready to launch 10 new sites. He predicts his web properties will be growing in popularity and trusts Pantheon will be there to support them. Already running a couple of decoupled projects, he anticipates adding more headless environments using Drupal and WordPress as dedicated CMS.
Whyte’s role is being measured by how happy his customers are. “If their site is live, if it loads fast and if it is getting more traffic, our clients are happy. And after switching to Pantheon, they are definitely happy,” Whyte summed up his Pantheon experience. As simple as that.