LiteCure Serverless / Headless Laravel Solution
Unifying business functions with serverless Laravel and AWS.
Shed technical debt of older PHP systems, and integrate customer touchpoints across the business.
Serverless Laravel integration combining CMS, LMS, e-Commerce, accreditation, and live webinars.
Helping a customer's business level up with Laravel.
At the start of its online business development, LiteCure had consulted with Redsqware to develop several innovative WordPress implementations which had put the client ahead of the curve in enterprise efficiency early on. Business growth had been tied in part to that online presence. So when the time came to reinvest online, LiteCure again consulted with us to draft and implement its new system design. The need to retrain existing personnel on a new stack is often a primary consideration when analyzing ownership costs, and LiteCure had a particular focus on PHP expertise due to its history.
A cleaner roadmap to better scalability.
"Redsqware gave us the tools to continue improving on our systems for years to come. They dug in from day 1, drafting rock solid requirements and user stories that communicated what we weren't able to ourselves."
AMANDA HOFFMEYER, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
Because we knew that PHP would be a factor in the customer's future plans, we had to think ahead. One of the common problems with PHP is bloat, so Redsqware took measures to streamline things overall. Initial user migration from Magento had already been initiated by the client, but to speed things up we developed a continuous deployment plan which allowed the client to continue use it until its functional end of life.
To bridge the gap, we created an API for the client which communicated with their legacy services to render data in the new user interface (UI). After a security plan was drafted, API development began in earnest, in parallel with intial UXD (user experience design). The client's new API accounted for a wide array of shared assets, including user permissions, LMS content, CDN resources, data from the existing web store, and communication with both Dynamics 365 and Marketo.
The new UX was intended to be unlike anything else in the animal health sciences market, and included real images of employees and their pets. Ultimately, the new design lexicon was a cleaner evolution of the client's existing brand.
Hitting the Ground Running
To standardize the presentation of this distinct visual language across various project teams, a style guide was created in Zeplin which referenced the new Google Fonts, grid attributes, and visual elements used. Next, user interface development was partially automated using symbols and Sketch2React, reducing time spent on front end development processes. Google's Material Design served as the foundation for dashboard design.
The application platform operates primarily on the serverless deployment of Laravel PHP. Going serverless enabled Redsqware to write services over multiple platforms. Blocking scripts are handed to services written in Node JS to accomplish this. Node is known for its non-blocking I/O model. AWS Elastic Beanstack and AWS Lightsail are used to host backend services. For databases, MySQL Enterprise edition powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) was picked for seamless scalability and performance. AWS Relational Database Service (RDS) hosts an enterprise distribution of MySQL in the cloud; providing the ability to automatically scale up and down without manual adjustments.
ReactJS was used to develop the website front-end; with front-end hosting duties handled by AWS S3 in conjunction with AWS Cloudfront Distributions for efficient content delivery. This solution was hand-crafted to deliver maximum throughput with minimum effort.
"Based on five pillars — operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimization — the AWS Well-Architected Framework provides a consistent approach for customers and partners to evaluate architectures."
AMAZON WEB SERVICES
To ensure interoperability, efficiency, and scalability throughout the enterprise, the new system employed Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and AWS Lambda infrastructure. This allows new code to be continuously deployed, then run to match user demand without the setup or provisioning of new servers. AWS RDS (Relational Database Service) was employed for cost-efficient security and performance – and to automate hardware-related tasks; like setup and provisioning for scalability. AWS Elastic Beanstalk was used to operate infrastructure and manage/update the application stack.
Search was a key consideration, so the new admin toolset was also designed with best practices in mind. Features like dedicated, required fields to enter metadata when new content was added are intended to enforce content hygiene and overall search value. The back end dashboard GUI can be used to manage all web content; including a bespoke LMS, one-click integrations with the client's DAMS (document asset management system), promotions/redemptions, and new releases of their subscription-based mobile app to customers.
Online Learning and Continuing Education
One initial goal of the project was to provide a science resource library for general reference purposes. Providing documents, videos, and study materials to augment the online coursework available through the website was a key consideration. Coursework is available for both customers and the general public, but it requires participant registration for access. This data is then used to inform future marketing efforts to qualified prospects on an opt-in basis.
Once a user had registered, they have access to an individual account console that provides a history of their purchases, study materials, and course completion. Registered users also have access to practice quizzes which can be taken online in realtime. The React-based LMS shares the same dashboard as the CMS, and handles the dispensation of CE (Continuing Education) credits; including the automatic generation of personalized CE certificates upon successful completion. The user account pane also includes any purchases made through the web store, automated refills for PRP and Stem Cell kits, and access to updates for the client's Compass mobile app for subscribed customers.
Changing the Traffic Game
The Redsqware team periodically coordinate their efforts with LiteCure's modest paid search efforts to ensure that keyword purchases are adequately supported with site content. Since the launch of the new website, visits to the client's primary SSL domain have increased approximately 400% overall.
Overall performance increased substantially since the new site came online in November 2018. In November of 2019, the client recorded a 79% reduction in bounce rate, an 82% increase in pageviews (32,400 total for the month), a 58% increase in pages per session, and a 33% increase in visit duration over the same period last year.
The speed of the new web presence improved significantly, as well. The client was able to consistently deliver page service times well below two seconds. By providing multilingual support for key international markets, the sales team was able to gain additional traction and a conversion point for its overseas marketing efforts. It naturally followed that one benefit from the current system was a dramatic reduction in user bounce rate. In this way, the new infrastructure was able to pay for itself very quickly, by increasing traffic quantity, quality, and lead generation. All of which was reflected in the company's overall sales volume.
Looking to the Future
Redsqware currently provides LiteCure with Tier 3 and 4 support services on demand to make sure the new system continues to improve. Support includes consultant services and architectural enhancements. Plans for the coming year include replacement of the Magento user management system, and moving the client to a Node.js e-commerce system LiteCure can own outright and operate free of licensing fees. In this way, Redsqware has made sure that continuous improvement remains a reliable touchstone for longterm sales and marketing strategies.
AWS Elastic Beanstalk