Xana is a new fashion business, founded by Ana Lesiak, former Managing Director at Zara (UK). Under the banner Fair Fashion™, the company focuses on selling clothes that make use of fabrics chosen for their beauty and for their low impact on the environment. It purchases the fabrics at fair trade prices and aims to use vintage features in most of its designs. The clothes are produced in a factory that takes special care in human welfare, and the business aims to directly help people in the production line.
Ana approached Ixxus to build the company’s online presence, both its website,www.xanacollections.com, and its social media presence. Ana wanted to build a transparent and open relationship with her customers, where feedback on designs, materials and policies could be rapidly given and responded to.
The challenge was to create an e-commerce website backed up by a robust content management system with a flexible user interface. The website must include a regularly updated journal which would be the source of information pushed to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. It was crucial for Xana that the solution also provided a method of effectively and efficiently managing their social content; as part of their overall marketing strategy. This included powerful reporting of social media posts to ascertain success.
We established a team of technical architects and developers with relevant web skills, led by a senior Ixxus project manager. Our team worked in collaboration with Xana personnel to define the functionality required, design and architecture that could be deployed within the budget and time constraints.
Drupal was chosen as the front end to the website in order to incorporate its flexible user interface and modular e-commerce function. The Drupal front end implementation leverages a number of Drupal add-on modules to provide extra functionality. The front end relies upon the CCK and Views modules as a foundation, which are required in order to create and ‘see’ custom content. The ImageCache and Taxonomy Menu modules are also incorporated for further functionality.
Due to the nature of the website, creating a clear and compelling display of imagery was considered paramount in order to showcase the Xana fashion range to its full potential. Accordingly, the ImageCache module was included for extra visual functionality. ImageCache provides the capability of creating and displaying very visually rich content, as well as offering a huge amount of flexibility in how the content is displayed. It was decided to incorporate detailed images for viewing of individual items, alongside smaller versions to list the items within collections and display them as related content.
For the Xana site, each item of clothing is designated a ‘collection node’, which incorporates three mandatory image fields and specifies the ideal dimensions for that image. Upon saving, ImageCache creates a scaled and cropped version automatically to a preconfigured size. The default size is used on the collection nodes themselves, which display one ‘hero’ image and two ‘alternative’ views (see below).
The Xana site also features an image carousel on the home page, and this pulls in content from an added ‘carousel content’ type. The ViewPHP template has been modified so that the list of items is surrounded by a container
The Taxonomy Menu add-on module was also leveraged to implement a menu system based on the taxonomy terms used in the Collection Item nodes. When creating a node, a choice of preset taxonomy terms such as ‘dresses’ and ‘tops’ are mandatory, and Taxonomy Menu uses these terms as its list items.
When an item is selected from the taxonomy menu, a page is formed from a view that displays items tagged with that particular taxonomy term (see below: ‘dresses’).
For the content management side of the website we chose Alfresco because of its well-known robust features and developed the Ixxus Social Content Platform (SCP) to run alongside this. The Ixxus SCP provides a feature-rich set of enhancements to the Alfresco Share platform to assist in the publishing of Alfresco-managed content to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as illustrated below:
As the Alfresco Share functionality of publishing directly to social media sites was desired, Share was integrated together with Drupal using CMIS to provide this. The Drupal implemented website contains journal entries which are managed as blog items within an Alfresco Share site, and this same journal content provides the source of information to be simultaneously published to xanacollections.com branded Facebook and Twitter social site web pages.
Drupal was also modified to send external content URLs back to Alfresco, ensuring that content syncs both ways between platforms and allowing users to access and edit blog content from either end. Information is pushed back to Alfresco using web services rather than CMIS, and Ixxus made further customisations in order to control which content is taken from Alfresco as a default.
The combination of Alfresco ECM and the Ixxus SCP has not only enabled Xana to engage with their customers, but it has also given them central management of their content which has reduced workload and thus saved costs. The Drupal integration with Alfresco Share has provided Ixxus with valuable knowledge and experience which can be reused in future projects.
Key benefits to the client include:
- Easy management of publishing endpoints for web and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter which resulted in immediate savings in terms of time and cost.
- Centrally able to manage feedback on social content; with the added ability to view and delete user comments all within the one interface.
- Powerful reporting to help gauge the success of social posts which has been key in ensuring that an effective marketing strategy is relevant and effective each day.
- Increased efficiency and accuracy through a new review and approval publishing workflow for content items within an Alfresco Share site.
- Scheduling of content items which allows busy staff to plan and implement content changes once, saving time and keeping content fresh and current.
- Full history of published content and roll-back of changes across one or more web and social media sites.
“We were tremendously impressed with the wealth of experience and professionalism that Ixxus demonstrated throughout the project, and they seemed to grasp our needs and requirements right from the start. It was imperative to our business that we had the capability to interact, communicate, share and collaborate with our customers using social networks whilst simplifying the communication process, making it quicker, and minimising number of tasks and people involved – the Ixxus Social Content Platform has helped us do this and has been a big benefit to our business.”
Ana Lesiak, Founder.
Date Published : 23rd of October 2014
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