Maybe we’re a little biased, but we believe the Go Overseas website gets a little better every day. Even if we don’t make any functional changes, our users share valuable stories of their overseas experiences at all hours: reviews, interviews, videos, questions, comments, pictures, you name it!
Most days, the team here in Berkeley also improves the site. Usually, these are small tweaks, such as fixing a bug or improving a call to action for our users to respond to. Some months we unveil a whole new section (most recently TEFL Courses) or a new suite of Provider or User features (community interactivity, analytics, content tools, etc). Once in awhile (twice in seven years), we launch a whole new website!
Earlier this month we migrated GoOverseas.com from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8. This is, as I mentioned, effectively launching a new website. It was the first time we’ve upgraded our content management system (CMS) and is the single biggest technical investment we’ve ever made. Drupal is the software that serves as our CMS and is responsible for driving everything our users see and do. The Go Overseas site was built on Drupal 6, the latest version available to us in 2009. It was a great platform for us as we started to grow, but was starting to show its age.
With Drupal 8 nearing completion last year we made the decision to upgrade. It took nine months of intense work to prepare and then migrate the entire website to its new home. Our CTO, Andrew used the analogy of a construction project to explain the scope and complexity of the move: we remodeled our house (GoOverseas.com) in the midst of hosting a giant dinner party (1,000,000 monthly visitors and 6,000+ providers). We had to upgrade the house and all the furniture in it, without disturbing any of those guests. No small feat!
After successfully launching the new ‘back end’ of the site, we celebrated by kidnapping Andrew to Las Vegas for the night, where we forced him to shave his 5-month beard. He decided to get a few tattoos on his own – we had a lot to celebrate.