The New Common Craft
Recently Number10 launched commoncraft.com, a custom Drupal 7, e-commerce membership website. We want to share a bit about the story of this project.
Common Craft produces short videos that explain concepts around topics like technology, social media, society, money and internet safety. Through their creative style and unique point of view Common Craft has created a niche market for companies using video as an explanatory tool. Earlier this year Number10 was approached by Common Craft for help developing a new website to support a change in their business model.
New Site on the New Drupal
Communication is the heart of the Common Craft Way. Their website is their primary communication tool and is where they sell videos for people to use in presentations, on blogs, and as educators. Common Craft has been using Drupal since version 4.7 and came to the conversation already open to using Drupal, a situation we find more common these days. As we did our research into the best approach to take with the development of the new CommonCraft.com it became clear that developing on Drupal 7 was the way to go. Although when we started the project Drupal 7 was still new, in hind sight it was the best decision we could have made.
A New CC model
Common Craft had previously been selling downloads for individual videos, and were looking to move to a subscription based service. This new model has many great benefits, primarily including the ability for members to use any Common Craft video with one membership rather than having to pick and choose videos. It also removes the need to deal with complex licensing restraints. You can read all about the new model in the CommonCraft.com blog post announcment. Supporting this new model meant we needed to solve two major technical issues outside of Drupal, video delivery and recurring memberships.
We did extensive research as to the best provider for video for Common Craft, and in the end decided to use Wistia. One of the major requirements of this project was that videos on the Common Craft website play on all devices, including iOS. The Wistia technology uses a variety of player technologies, and can dynamically select which player is used in order to optomize playback for almost any device. When Common Craft members embed a video on their blog or web site the same is true; the videos just work. We found the Wistia API to be clearly documented and easy to use, and with some custom module code it allowed us to serve videos to Common Craft members based on their Drupal role, (i.e. member vs. non-member). The folks at Wistia were responsive and easy to work with, and they seemed genuinely excited by the way we were pushing their technology. In the end we found that everything we wanted to do we could accomplish through their API. This included flawless playback on multiple platforms, downloads in multiple formats, capturing extensive metrics on video usage, and the ability to build a complex embedding system that offers Common Craft control over videos even after they have been inserted into remote sites.
Anyone who has built a recurring payment system quickly realizes that recurring payments are hard, with many possible error conditions to handle and lots of “edges”. After looking at a number of options we decided to use Recurly for recurring payments on commoncraft.com. Recurly has a robust API that allowed us to develop a custom Drupal module and to integrate with the awesome Rules module to manage membership renewals for Common Craft. When a new member signs up we have a workflow that will verify the successful payment, create a Drupal user, assign proper permissions, send emails, and more. The solution we implemented manages a member’s status using push messaging from Recurly. Recurly will attempt to bill for renewals and sends a message to a service end point in Drupal indicating that the renewal is successful or not, and if not, why. By using Recurly we also have given Common Craft the ability to easily manage trial periods and discounts. Recurly helped ease the pain of building and managing recurring payments and has been a terrific service for this project.
New CommonCraft Success
Lee and Sachi LeFever of Common Craft have been fabulous clients. Their enthusiasm and engagement made building the new Common Craft a pleasure. The site has been very successful since its launch just a short time ago, and ongoing refinements ensure that it will only continue to improve. Number10 is proud to have been a part of helping Common Craft make the transition not only to a new model for business but also to a new website, and we are looking forward to working with them as they make their Useful Handcrafted Videos.