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How we used Umbraco Uno to deliver a corporate website in five days

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As all of us know, the business world can be a highly unpredictable and volatile place. The ability to respond quickly to corporate and customer need is essential, and can be a real source of competitive advantage. This is particularly true in terms of digital, where the ability to rapidly create websites, apps and other digital channels is often desired by organisations, but is not always easy to put into practice.

In this post, we’re going to explore the use of Umbraco Uno as a way to produce a rapid, professional and enterprise-grade website, detailing a project where we produced a website for a law firm client within just five days from instruction to launch!

The factors that impact speed to market

There are a variety of different factors which impact the speed of creating and successfully launching a digital product or site. It will depend on the complexity of the requirements, the design and content creation effort required, the speed of decision-making and sign-off workflows, people’s availability and technical considerations. These include having a robust DevOps approach and agile development methodology, but also the technology platform you choose to use when building the solution.

Some digital experience platforms are excellent in terms of their ability to create immersive and innovative customer experiences, but are not necessarily the most quick or agile. Other platforms might have some limitations for long-term projects, but are excellent for a rapid build. In the eventuality that you need to launch something quickly, it is good to know your technology options. One of these is Umbraco Uno.

What is Umbraco Uno?

Umbraco is one of the world’s most popular open-source content management systems, and a platform we frequently use at 3chillies. Umbraco Uno is a “low-code, no-code” cloud-based version of the core CMS. It’s offered by Umbraco as Software-as-a-Service, and provides a very rapid way to build a website.

The main Umbraco platform is already very user-friendly, but Umbraco Uno goes one step further by offering an intuitive authoring interface in which users can assemble a range of widgets to build up web pages. Because there is no coding involved, Uno offers the opportunity for non-developers to build a professional looking website, or for more experienced developers to create one at high speed. Of course, you still need to know what you’re doing in terms of design, structure, branding and content.

Umbraco Uno is hosted in Azure, and comes with all the trappings you would expect from a SaaS-based CMS, with features to support SEO, analytics and more. The price point for Uno is reasonable, and comes with different options depending on what you want to achieve and how much monthly traffic you can expect.

While there is a light version of Umbraco Uno aimed at very small businesses, it also facilitates support for medium-scale and much larger businesses. Uno can be used strictly on a “no-code” basis – and that is probably the right approach for smaller businesses – but it can also be used by your development team to deploy custom code or styling with its own development and staging environment, as well as a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Umbraco. This means it can meet the expectations of much larger businesses who tend to have custom and emergent needs that may require custom development.

How we delivered a corporate website in five days

The ability for Umbraco Uno to deliver rapid results was evident in a project where we delivered a corporate website within five working days.

Day one: Wednesday

On 29 July 2020, we received a call from an existing law client who needed to launch a website within days relating to high profile allegations about working conditions at a well-known UK online fashion retailer. The client wanted to set up an informational website about the topic that included a questionnaire in five languages for customers, employees and suppliers.

The website needed to:

  • Operate on a separate domain from the law firm’s corporate website
  • Be fully secure
  • Be maintained by a digital team at the law firm
  • Support multi-language and forms
  • Have its own mailbox
  • Be responsive, accessible and usable
  • Only be live for a few weeks.

Knowing that the client’s existing CMS and licensing restrictions would struggle with such a lightning turnaround, we suggested an Umbraco Uno approach that involved using the Umbraco Hotel theme (one of the default themes offered in the Uno product), with the questionnaire built using Umbraco Forms. The latter is bundled into the Uno subscription. Confident that we had an approach that ticked all the requirements of the brief, we were able to get back to the client on the same day and even create a bespoke demo website using Uno which included some of the initial content sent over by the team. This only took a couple of hours, and because the client needed to move so quickly, we were able to seal approval for the project by the end of that day.

To get this rapid acceptance (not always straightforward in a law firm), several features of Umbraco Uno proved critical, including the ability to have a 99.9% uptime SLA to ensure the website was never down. Another advantage was the SaaS flexible monthly pricing with no lock-in or overarching licensing agreement. This meant the site could be decommissioned without accruing additional costs beyond the end of life.

Day two and three: Thursday and Friday

With the go-ahead confirmed, on Thursday, we ordered the domain, mailbox, SSL certificate, purchased the Umbraco Uno subscription and integrated Google Analytics by inserting the relevant GA ID in the Uno product.

At 14:52, we received the draft content from the client. Approximately one hour and eight minutes later, we had loaded the content into Uno and sent it back to the client for review. At this point, no custom development had been required.

On Friday, the client was busy working on the final draft content and the questions for the form, which were available in five languages. Here, it was important to get sign-off from the lawyers involved in the case. Because they could view the draft content as it would appear on the website through an IP-controlled draft secure site, sign-off on the content was easier to achieve.

Day four: Monday

On Monday, we received the text for the multi-language form – a significant questionnaire with 56 questions. For security, it also required reCAPTCHA to be implemented. While Umbraco Forms could easily handle the length and multi-lingual aspect of the questionnaire, there was an issue with implementing reCAPTCHA. We found that the Google reCAPTCHA API was not currently editable within Umbraco Uno. Our stress levels did rise a little when the client team informed us that the media campaign had to start the next morning at 9am, so the website had to be live the next day.

However, we were soon able come up with a technical solution to install reCAPTCHA with Umbraco Forms by cloning the software repository and making an update to the config file. It worked, and after a bit of frantic testing, the site was ready to launch.

Day Five: Tuesday

On Tuesday morning, the site was successfully launched, supporting our client’s needs with heavy use of Umbraco Forms, for example. After launch, the client was able to leverage the intuitive Umbraco editing interface to make changes to the site themselves without any training at all, despite never having used Umbraco before. In fact, their experience has been so positive that they are planning to migrate their main site to Umbraco.

Overall, the combination of branding support, flexible components, secure Azure hosting, SLA, Google Analytics integration and well-designed interfaces on Umbraco Uno meant we were able to launch a high-profile website in under five working days. Given the site was decommissioned at the end of September with no ongoing costs, it also proved highly cost-effective.

A strong platform for ultra-rapid development

In this case, Umbraco Uno proved to be an excellent platform for the ultra-rapid development and deployment of our client’s website, resulting in a very satisfied client. If you’d like to discuss a requirement to deploy a website at high speed or how to use Umbraco Uno effectively, then get in touch!

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