Association of British Insurers: Website Redevelopment using Sitecore and Solr

Background

Formed in 1985, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is the voice of the UK insurance industry and represents UK financial organisations specialising in general insurance, investment and long-term savings.

With 300 members who account for around 90% of all UK insurance premiums, the ABI works with government, regulators and policymakers (both in the UK and internationally) to ensure the insurance industry meets the highest standards.

Providing a wide range of services to members including industry data, best practice guidelines and access to the Institutional Voting and Information Service (IVIS), the ABI publishes research reports and policy documents, promotes the highest standards of customer service and hosts high-prole events including a Biennial Conference.

The Challenge

The ABI relies heavily upon its website to disseminate information to its members, journalists and the general public. The original website, developed in 2009 predominantly as membership database, had been enhanced over the years with web content management features and custom applications. By 2013, the ABI concluded that its website had reached the end of its useful life and could no longer provide the facilities and services that were needed if the ABI was to maintain its position as “the voice of the UK insurance industry”.

Our existing website had served us well but advances in technology, the increasing reliance on the web for communication and access to information, and the ever-changing requirements of our members meant that it was no longer fit for purpose.

The website was perceived as difficult to use, unreliable and out-of-date, it was a difficult and time-consuming process for us to update and manage the site, and members, industry stakeholders and journalists found it difficult to track down the data that they needed.

Priocept had substantial experience in developing solutions for the financial sector and clearly understood our objectives. Combined with their flexibility and technical expertise, this convinced us that with Priocept we had found our partner of choice.

Liz Hickey – ABI Assistant Director, Head of Communications

The Solution

Working closely with the ABI, stakeholders and members, Priocept undertook an in-depth review of the existing website and the immediate and long-term objectives of the ABI.

Priocept’s analysis formed the basis of a tender document for the development and implementation of the ABI’s new website. Having evaluated tender responses from various companies including Priocept themselves, the ABI decided to retain Priocept for the next stage of the project.

Following a technology/vendor selection process to ascertain which of the current crop of Web Content Management (WCM) products best matched the ABI’s selection criteria, Priocept recommended the adoption of Sitecore CMS 6.5 – a WCM system that delivers ease of use, flexibility, and enterprise-grade capabilities. Sitecore CMS has received numerous industry awards and accolades and is the platform of choice for leading companies around the world, powering more than 32,000 websites. In addition to key Sitecore components such as Web Forms for Marketers and Sitecore eCommerce Services, Priocept extended the solution by implementing custom modules for content taxonomy management, enhanced Solr integration and search functionality.

The integration of our Solr module was one of the most important enhancements that we implemented for the ABI. The unreliability of the existing search engine had been highlighted by the ABI. Solr provides users with advanced faceted and type-ahead search functionality, including filtering based on user and role permissions held in Sitecore.

Adam Ross – Head of Consulting at Priocept

The Benefits

The ABI launched its new website on Sitecore in May 2013, immediately delivering a wide range of benefits:

  • More targeted and engaging content – members now fully understand the purpose of the ABI and the benefits of their membership
  • Improved interface, navigation and search functionality – making it easier for users to locate the content they need
  • Improved site performance and reliability – with no recorded downtime
  • Better collaboration tools to enable interaction between members – including areas which provide members with relevant content and tailored navigation
  • Radically simplified content authoring thanks to Sitecore, ensuring that information is always up-to-date
  • Analytics to show what is happening on the site and how successful it is at delivering against user requirements

Technology

Technologies incorporated into the ABI web platform include:

  • Sitecore CMS 6.5
  • Microsoft .NET 4.0
  • Apache Solr 3.6.1
  • Custom Sitecore authentication provider to integrate with the legacy Fusion CRM
  • SecureTrading payment gateway integration
  • Customised Sitecore desktop interface
  • Twitter API integration using oAuth 2.0 authentication
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 (SP2)
High-level technical architecture