This is my first significant Sitecore project ever, which has been completed two years ago.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the heavy-loaded web
implementation for the iconic museum based in the largest US city – New York.
It is been visited by 6.7 million people annually but the online attendance
exceeds physical visitors 5 times, with 33 million interactions globally.
By 2010 the amount of the digital assets exceeded 900K and
approached the value of 1M with a third of them being exposed publicly. The
biggest problem however was that all the museum collections were kept in numerous
incompatible source formats and origins. With dozens of collections and each of
them managed by totally independent teams in a non-standardized approach, it
was clearly a mess turning into a loss of maintainability.
Met chose Sitecore as the best digital experience platform suitable
to centralize the authoring process for all editorial teams as well as improve
online publishing and distribution in face of even growing online traffic.
I joined the project at a digital agency called Cogapp that
provides services to the largest museums, galleries, and libraries as a
contractor specializing in Sitecore and my particular scope was to create a
centralized editable Sitecore-powered database for all the existing
collections. I ended up creating the first single collection database the museum had ever
for their artifacts with almost a million editable records!Beyond the benefits mentioned above, there were lots of
crucial improvements derived from my work:
- Powerful search. Since every single
collection item got standardized, it became possible to use semantic search
against the whole collection. That alone came as an impressive improvement in
visitors’ user experience, reducing the time for thousands of art professionals
of reaching desired content.
- Versioning and history audit. Since the
database went live, it became possible to see all the changes done to every
particular collection item back to the initial creation, see who made these
changes, when and why, and with the ability to roll back to any previous version.
Not just that, an approval workflow process was introduced to prevent faulty
changes from going live before getting approved by a senior editor. Having a single
“Source of Truth” for the data has fixed the “versioning hell” problem once and
- External data feeds. Powered by Sitecore,
every single collection became exportable by external data feeds for all the
Museum associates. They automatically get all the changes provided into a
central database upon approval.
Instead of a one-time converting and migrating of the data,
I created the Exporter Portal to ensure this process becomes reproducible and
could be triggered by an individual editing team so that they do not need to
roundtrips to the developers. Since all the previous content teams were
mis-synchronized, it was impossible to force them all to start committing to
the centralized database from day 1, not to say they had to undertake Sitecore
training that was scattered over time. Exporter Portal knew all the original
source formats each team used and was allowed to pull the delta into the
centralized database. With the portal in place teams took could temporary work
as before taking their time to familiarize themselves with a new system before
they become ready to start using it exclusively – that prevented lots of
spontaneous mistakes caused by lack of Sitecore training.