Transforming Australia’s largest online arts community

ArtsHub is Australia’s largest online membership community for the arts world. Its website serves as a marketplace to connect audiences with arts news, jobs, grants and events.

The Code Company embarked on a complex data migration project to modernise ArtsHub’s tech stack and set the team up for future growth.

The Challenge

Modernising a rigid and expensive CMS

Like many publishers, ArtsHub had outgrown its original custom-built CMS.

It was outdated, expensive to maintain and the source of major business inefficiencies.

The content team were growing increasingly frustrated by the rigid editorial experience and their inability to update or modernise the site. The website also experienced repeated periods of downtime due to server issues.

Tackling revenue-generation challenges

Despite having a membership-based and classifieds revenue model, ArtsHub’s inflexible system made it hard for the product team to innovate.

Creating new online products was a challenge, as was the convoluted sales and renewals process, which featured multiple manual steps.

ArtsHub’s technology stack was built in-house and maintained by a single internal staff member, creating a significant business risk.

This meant that the in-house technical specialist was continually pulled into maintenance work instead of focussing on business growth

I’m most excited about seeing what the new website will allow us to do from a product and revenue perspective.

We can now innovate and experiment with new commercial products

Sol Wise,  CEO ArtsHub

Tech-led business transformation

As soon as the ArtsHub team began to communicate their ambitious goals, it was clear that every aspect of their tech stack needed to be modernised.

We kicked off the project with a detailed discovery to gain a thorough understanding of ArtsHub’s bespoke system and identify the best way to eliminate their existing technical issues.

We soon discovered this was far more than a simple web development project – it was a major change management initiative, which impacted every department in the organisation.

From AdTech and email marketing, to hosting and membership strategy, the decision to upgrade the website ultimately transformed how ArtsHub’s entire business operates.

The initial discovery process gave us sufficient insight to commence development. However, we continued to learn, create, test and iterate right throughout the project.

Streamlining editorial workflows

Replatforming was the perfect opportunity to strategically review how content was authored and published internally.

We explored the way articles are drafted, published and featured on different sections of the website.

Having come from a legacy CMS that had been customised significantly over the years, many of these workflows could be simplified and standardised within the WordPress administration area.

The decision to move to WordPress also meant we could eliminate historical technical debt – and associated maintenance costs – that is commonly found in bespoke website builds of this kind.

The Code Company team were great at problem solving. They confidently assessed every issue and made pragmatic recommendations based on our budget.

Sol Wise,  CEO ArtsHub

Managing risk on a complex migration

Our migration specialists embarked on the mammoth task of data mapping from the convoluted legacy .net database into WordPress.

There’s no such thing as a simple replatforming (which is why it’s crucial to work with a specialist) but ArtsHub’s was particularly complex.

Their existing site was built in 2008 on a custom Microsoft .NET Framework that was no longer supported.

We architected a custom migration and taxonomy process to ensure no data was lost and that content was organised in clear, intuitive categories.

A platform to launch new verticals and unlock business growth

For many media organisations, replicable business models are the secret to sustainability. However, the growth potential of ArtsHub was restricted by the limitations of its proprietary CMS.

Moving to a standardised tech stack made it easy for the business to expand into new verticals.

The Code Company leveraged ArtsHub’s existing theme and membership functionality, which allowed us to create a new website much faster than if we’d started from scratch with a separate build.

The efficiencies this created meant ArtsHub’s newest vertical GamesHub was able to launch within a month of replatforming to WordPress!

Automated memberships and payments

We modernised Artshub’s payment processing system with a custom WordPress integration using the Chargify plugin.

The new automated membership solution means:

  • Users can sign-up, upgrade and renew with ease
  • Sales and renewals processes are simplified
  • The number of steps required to make a sale is reduced
  • Immediate CX improvements

The Code Company’s recommendations highlighted the need for a full front-end redesign. So we worked closely with Artshub’s chosen design agency to bring their vision for the site to life.

We implemented a new email marketing system and engineered the site with modern ad standards and formats in mind.

These changes opened up new revenue generation opportunities for ArtsHub and allowed the sales team to experiment and innovate.