Case Study: Animal Humane Society
Website Refresh: The Only Thing Missing is a Purring Sound
The Animal Humane Society (AHS), in Minneapolis, Minnesota is the leading animal welfare organization in the Upper Midwest, helping 25,000 dogs, cats and critters in need find loving homes each year, while providing a vast array of services to the community, from low-cost spay and neuter services to dog training to rescuing animals from neglectful and abusive situations.
TEN7 has been working with AHS since 2008, making piecemeal updates to their website and finding creative solutions for desired changes with a limited budget. In 2016, the Animal Humane Society wanted to reimagine the animalhumanesociety.org website as not just an adoption source, but a resource, an authority, and an advocate for all things related to companion animals and the community that loves them.
One of the main goals was to include even more information to support pet owners and animal lovers, including more photos, videos and shareable content. Other goals were to integrate the separate Kindest Cut website (a low-cost spay and neuter clinic) into the main site, and improve functionality of the Lost and Found bulletin boards.
“We wanted the user experience on the site to match the user experience when people come to the shelter. That it would be colorful and emotional and warm and inviting, and that it would give people that same wonderful feeling that they have when they walk in the door at the [shelter] and see the puppies and kittens.”—Paul Sorensen, Director of Brand and Communications, Animal Humane Society
To give AHS the increased functionality they desired (like the enhanced image and video capabilities), we embarked on building a complex Drupal 8 site from scratch. It was more than just a one-and-done update, however. Over a nine-year period, the site had evolved from a manually-updated custom CMS to a new Drupal 5 installation, and later Drupal 6. Additional functionality and one-off customizations to the codebase had created a great deal of technical debt, making the site difficult to maintain and support.
Drupal 8 functionality allowed us to scrap some custom code, while in other cases we were able to replace custom code with contributed modules developed by the Drupal community.
Integration with PetPoint (the animal information database) under Drupal 6 was challenging, requiring custom code from beginning to end. We were able to use Drupal 8’s built-in functionality to talk to PetPoint in a more standards-based way, which meant far less custom code.
As we were making these updates, we also followed best practices and implemented coding standards for the new site, which reduce the amount of technical debt that was created.
We launched the site in the summer of 2017, and although there were some hiccups, results were immediate: people LOVED the bold photos, video and shareable content. As a result of the site update, more Minnesotans are:
- Visiting the website and staying longer. Traffic is up 8.5% from the previous year, and the average visit is over four minutes, up 8.6% percent from the previous year
- Viewing animal profiles, with nearly 4 million views, leading to 10,751 animal adoptions
- Sharing and responding to AHS content on social media, with double and triple-digit traffic increases on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Reddit
- Donating online, with donations driven by site content up 18.2% from the previous year
We continue to support and collaborate with the Animal Humane Society, adding more functionality we couldn’t squeeze in during the big update, like setting up visitor accounts with the ability to “favorite” animals. And we still have to figure out how to make the site purr.