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Islam Online Case Study

Islam Online is a popular global Islamic media website, providing content and information for Muslims and non-Muslims with a focus on broadening the Islamic faith through a range of services including studies, support, counselling and current affairs.

Launched in 1997, IslamOnline has forums on a variety of issues (Politics, Entertainment, New Muslims, etc.) and is now the sixth most visited Islam-related website in the world. The primary objectives of the website are provision of the following: an introduction to moderate Islam, a variety of religious services, a different perspective on news analysis, a means for social interaction, an outlet for user opinions, a means for people to develop themselves, a form of acceptable entertainment, and audience outreach.

The Challenge

Islam Online was maintaining a number of diverse websites and wished to consolidate these to create one efficient portal. They were also concerned that their website branding and content was looking stale, and the number of site visitors was in decline. The challenge was to rebrand the website entirely, and to create a flexible content management system with built-in social and multimedia capabilities which could keep up with the extremely fast-moving nature of current affairs within the Middle East.

The existing content authoring system was extremely inefficient and unproductive, with long delays in the authoring process, meaning that content was sometimes not published for hours. As citizen journalism and social media lead to ever-more instantaneity in the world of breaking news, Islam Online recognised that they needed a more responsive and immediate method of working.

On top of this, Islam Online felt a growing need to make their website more social, and so were seeking solutions to enable them to interact more with their readership and include more user-generated content.

The new portal needed to be suitable for a variety of different audiences (muslim, non-muslim, male, female, teen, youth, adult), with a distinct and easily identifiable style for each section. Islam Online also wanted the capability of using the new site to search for and access old content within their archives.

Ixxus took over the project part way through an implementation, and were given the task of providing a working solution within a very tight timescale to an immoveable deadline, Ramadan.

The Solution

Ixxus worked closely with Islam Online to create a working solution within the limited timescales, leveraging their existing hosted infrastructure. An Ixxus design consultant produced new design mock-ups to refresh and revitalise the Islam Online’s online branding.

For the user interface (UI), Ixxus used a template-based solution so as to meet the tight timescales and provide consistent look and feel throughout the site and improving the overall navigation and search capabilities throughout the site. Ixxus further developed a partially completed content model, adding support for the new content sections.

The content management system (CMS) was Fatwire and WebLogic-based, but during the project Ixxus migrated to Apache Tomcat and re-architected the platform so that the choice of CMS could be swapped at a later date if so desired. This also allowed independent development of the user interface and content template code. This became important in later phases when Ixxus moved the user interface development to Islam Online’s own development team.

Pluck is an industry-leading social media technology for publishers, brands and retailers. Ixxus leveraged their plug-ins to provide functionality for:Most Commented Articles, Most Commented Discussions, Most Recent Discussions, Most Recently Updated Personas, Most Active Groups, Most Commented Blogs, Comments, User Videos and Photos, Polls, Recent user videos and photos, forums, blogs, groups. Users benefit from additional features after setting up a user account.

Ixxus integrated CoveritLive, which powers live events, social engagement for webinars, and Who’s On, whichincludes a full-featured live chat server, in order to provide counselling and support. Google Calendar was used to share event information and link to articles within the site. Google Analytics was used to track user behaviours and provide Islam Online with statistical information.

The website was delivered in both Arabic and English,with the provision to support French and Turkish in the future.

Results

The site (www.islamonline.net) went live in time for Ramadan 2010, with the relationship between Ixxus and Islam Online proving so successful that the client went on to request two follow-on phases. These were delivered at the end of 2010 and in time for Ramadan 2011, and centred around adding extra features (2010) and further tuning the performance of the website (2011) to improve some of the legacy platform infrastructure inherited at the beginning of the first phase