RTL News reaches millions of people every day. On TV and increasingly digitally via the ‘news wall’, a new, distinctive news concept. Ibuildings developed the content management system (CMS) in Drupal for this purpose. Immediately one of the largest Drupal CMS in the Netherlands. With the CMS, the editors quickly publish the latest news. What are the experiences of Marc Schreuder, deputy editor-in-chief of RTL News, and Joris van Lierop, publisher of RTL News?
With the introduction of the news wall, both for web, mobile and as an app, RTL Nieuws is rigorously changing tack. The online visitor gets the news as it comes in. The news is presented as a live stream, with continuous updates. Although the changes are most visible at ‘the front’ for the visitor, the back has also been completely overhauled, with the new CMS as pivotal point.
Editors of the various news brands RTL Nieuws, RTL Z, RTL Boulevard, Editie NL have become more collaborative and have adopted a new way of publishing news. While the new concept took shape, Ibuildings developed steadily.
One platform for content management
Marc Schreuder explains: “Each new brand used to have its own in-house developed CMS. Of course it happened that a news item for RTL News was published at the same time at RTL Z or Editie NL. The editors then processed the content in their own CMS, but that was often cumbersome and took extra time. Previously, RTL Nieuws had brought all news brands under one umbrella. We wanted to move towards one recognisable brand. It was logical to reflect this step in our way of working.
Hence our wish for a central CMS, so that all editors could exchange content more easily and publish faster. What’s more, the oldest CMS has lasted for 15 years and the management and further development has become increasingly difficult and expensive”.
Drupal as enterprise CMS
RTL Nieuws asked five parties for a proposal. The package of requirements was clear. First of all, the CMS had to fit the workflow of an editorial staff. Speed is key. In addition, it had to be able to handle different types of content, such as text, images, video, tweets. Stability and ‘proven technology’ was a third requirement. Finally, management and further development were important for later cost control.
Joris van Lierop: “The choice fell on Ibuildings. They were the only ones to offer Drupal, a platform that is accessible to many developers, other than, for example, Java. Open source automatically means more capacity for further development and scalability of the platform. Ibuildings also gave a clear picture of costs and management. And, not unimportantly, I had worked well with them before”.
Doubts about open source
But open source also raised questions, Marc Schreuder remembers. “The CMS is a business-critical system within RTL that must not falter. Open source felt a bit scary. How reliable is it, how scalable, how manageable? It’s the cloud after all. As an expert in open source, Ibuildings was able to answer all our questions convincingly. Drupal has been developing for over 10 years, making it a stable and reliable enterprise CMS, even for large companies.
Furthermore, Ibuildings had appealing cases and indicated to be able to provide hosting with a party that specializes in Drupal. And they showed us the power of the community, which indeed proved to be very valuable in the development of the CMS”.
Doing more with less people
Within a few months the CMS was delivered completely on time and within budget. “A compliment,” says Joris van Lierop, “because it turned out to be a huge job, which required a lot of progressive insight on our part. That’s difficult for developers.” RTL News now has one CMS for all editors. Marc Schreuder: “We have become much more efficient. We do more with fewer people and incur fewer costs. The editors themselves experience the new CMS as a big step forward. They can more easily post and share content and try out new things. Everything goes faster. You can see that on the site. Partly because of this, we have started to grow in online visits. The last six months even more than 50%; more than ever.”
RTL News is very pleased with the relationship with Ibuildings. Marc Schreuder: “I really like the cooperation, we understand each other. Ibuildings provides expert people who understand what we find important. Especially against the launch of the new site there was time pressure and we all worked very hard. Ibuildings has also taken extra steps. That’s when you get to know your supplier really well”. Joris van Lierop adds: “I think Ibuildings is a no-nonsense party with good builders who know what they’re doing.
We’re still working with Ibuildings. I like long relationships; it’s just easier. Especially if the quality is fine and you can manage your budget, I say: ‘why not’? But we remain critical.”