Founded in 1978, the California Avocado Commission strives to enhance the premium positioning of California Avocados through advertising, promotion, public relations and related industry activities. California Avocados are commercially cultivated with an uncompromising dedication to quality and freshness, by more than 3,000 growers in the Golden State. The California Avocado Commission serves as the official information source for the California Avocado industry with (www.californiaavocado.com) being their official website.
The i3 Digital team was approached by MullenLowe, the California Avocado Commission’s advertising and design agency in 2016. They had been tasked with finding a new Kentico Gold Partner to resolve outstanding issues with the website and core CMS platform. The new partner would also be responsible for maintaining, supporting and on-going development of the website. A major re-design was also on the horizon so the chosen partner had to be able to work with and take design direction from MullenLowe’s creative team.
The California Avocado Commission’s and MullenLowe’s overarching goal was to ensure that the organisation’s website reflected the premium positioning of California Avocados and met their global marketing and communications efforts. They required that all issues found and detailed within the supplied i3 Digital Audit/Health Check be implemented as soon as possible so that the website was stable, reliable and could be built upon for the future. It was essential that all issues with the core CMS installation be eradicated.
What we Delivered
Our first round of work was to stabilize and optimize the existing core platform. A range of updates were carried out to improve site performance, security and reliability. Our certified Kentico developers enabled https site-wide, fixed improper redirects, correctly implemented social share on blog articles, enabled newsletter sign-up and converted the website to a web app which increases performance for sites hosted on the Azure cloud environment.
The next scope of work incorporated the design and development of a fully CMS configurable dynamic Store & Restaurant locator. Functionality was delivered to allow website users to locate California Avocados and view season calendar information which highlights when the California Avocado season begins and ends.
Our team then proceeded with the restructuring of the existing California Avocados Recipe Section. This was required to reduce the number of page types and make it quicker and easier to enter recipes. Currently, there are over 1500 recipes held within the website.
This project also incorporated the creation and custom build of two sections within the website, these being Avocado 101 and Nutrition, from concepts supplied by MullenLowe. To allow for maximum flexibility, a range of widgets were built to be used within the scope of new page templates.
The most recent project focused on addressing a number of known SEO and performance related issues arising from how historic templates had been built. For example; the site database queries were bringing back all of the columns, not just the required ones which impacted the page speed depending on the number of database queries and size of tables used. We updated this where possible to load only the columns that the components needed to display the required results.
Our developers also carried out batch optimization of Website assets (images, media, etc.) and reviewed a sample of assets to ensure no degradation in quality.
In late 2018, i3 Digital’s Facilitates and Hosting team were engaged to take over the Hosting and Support of the website. A 24,7-365 support contract was put in place. Our team set-up a high availability plus scalable hosting environment on the Azure Cloud. The team also deployed CloudFlare CDN to enhance site performance, the speed of delivery and provide a layer of added security.
The California Avocado Commission now has a highly stable and optimised consumer-facing website. The work our team carried out has taken their GTmetrix page speed score from a lower score to a B (81%), making the website itself 55% faster. Fully loaded Time has been reduced to 1.8 seconds from 3.6 seconds bringing it below Google’s recommended 2 seconds or less. Total page size has also been reduced from 4.4MB to 2.43 MB. All of these improvements mean that the site visitor bounce rates have been reduced by a whopping 50%. Average page dwell times have also increased by 36% with visitors engaging with the site more and staying longer.
You might be asking why a California ad agency with a California client is working with a digital agency in Belfast. The answer is we had to look far before we found the Kentico expertise we were looking for. We found it in i3 Digital. And not only did they bring expertise, they also brought a truly first-class PM team that every day makes us forget that our offices are more than 5,000 miles apart.Martin Pagh Ludvigsen - VP, Director of Creative Technology, Mullen Lowe