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Case study

Guerrilla Deploys Drupal Site Search for BBC Studios

Media site and agency site search case study

Almost exactly twenty years ago, Guerrilla was founded as a pure digital brand and marketing agency. Today, they’re an international award-winning agency that works with some of the world’s top brands across industries including media and entertainment, CPG, finance, and aviation, just to name a few.

When one of their oldest clients, BBC Studios (the principal commercial arm of the BBC), needed to re-platform all their websites onto Drupal as part of a wider strategy, they turned to Guerrilla for help. 

“We start with the goals of the business,” said Rob Bare, Partner and Brand & Strategy Director at Guerrilla. “We identify a cross-section of users and stakeholders in the business to identify goals and outcomes. And we ask ourselves not only what needs to be done today, but what will the site need five years from now so we’re building with an eye towards the future.” 

The site search would also need an upgrade. The team at Guerrilla had extensive experience working with Elasticsearch, but they wanted a newer solution that was easier to deploy and manage. 

“We've worked on Elasticsearch solutions in the past, and just the amount of time, specialist knowledge needed, and cluster support to run Elasticsearch, it can be a bit excessive. The team reviewed our options and we’d heard good things about Search.io,” said Rob. 

Not only did Search.io have the features they needed, but the availability of a native Drupal module made it a no-brainer. 

“Good search can factor into things like engagement on site and can have a big impact on brand experience. If you think about a poor search experience, it can be quite frustrating, especially if you know the information is actually on the site but you can’t surface it.” - Rob Bare

The build-out 

BBC websites reach a wide swath of viewers across all demographics around the world. If web visitors aren’t getting the results they want, it affects user experience and brand. For the BBC sites, it meant deploying search that could handle the different content and media types. 

On the BBC sites, everything is component driven. This gives great flexibility but presents some challenges in populating a search index from within the CMS. Fortunately, the Search.io crawler was a good solution to indexing.

The team at Guerrilla used the Search.io ReactJS libraries to build the frontend. 

“We made use of an instant indexing script so that newly created pages show up in search straight away rather than waiting for the next crawl. The frontend is a Next JS / React application. This streamlined a lot of things like communicating with the search API and handling pagination,” explained Andrew Marquis, Senior Developer at Guerrilla.

On the back-end, the team added rules to filter out unwanted results and prioritize content order. Custom fields were added to each page to map images and descriptions to crawled results, which could be references on a custom results template.

“By having our own results template we were also able to show results from other data sources from a single search. So if someone searches for a particular show, they will see all content related to that show from the Search.io index as well as all the times that show is being aired from our own TV schedule database.”

The results are in

Guerrilla has now launched more than twenty BBC sites on Drupal with Search.io. What used to require considerable development time and management can be accomplished quickly. 

“Search had always been a little bit of a challenge. But, with Search.io, our clients have a lot of good, advanced features and machine learning with a nice interface.” 

The work Guerrilla has done with BBC Earth and BBC Studios was recognized at the 11th Annual Lovie Awards for its excellence. 

“Guerrilla was announced as a Bronze Lovie and People’s Lovie Winner for the Television and Film—Websites category for BBC Earth. We also received a shortlisted entry for BBC Studios Productions in the Corporate Communications—Websites category.”

The Guerrilla team is turning to some additional well-known BBC brands where it will roll out new search capabilities. Stay tuned!

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