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Crain Communications is an American media conglomerate based in Detroit. They deliver news to more than 6 million business leaders globally.


  • Built a digital publishing platform on Drupal 8 for a multisite brand
  • Customized, unique individual brand sites for their respective themes through component-based development, over the core brand element based profile
  • Migrated 1 million+ stories dating from 1995 without compromising on the best practices across SEO, performance, and media management.

As per Global Newswire, multisite architecture is pegged to grow at 22.6% CAGR from 2020 to 2027 with an estimated market size of US$ 1,628.6 million.  Globally, media conglomerates operate a myriad of content-based sites for managing different business use cases. 

Therefore, a need for a robust multi site architecture is a panacea for business decision-makers to drive operational efficiency.


To narrate their distinct brand stories and offer a rich customer experience, Crain wanted a unified digital platform that would let content editors manage the websites seamlessly without having to depend on the internal tech team.


As there was no centralization in place, the client faced the following challenges:

  • Rolling out common features across platforms
  • Dependency on tech teams for publishing content
  • Migrating existing subsites onto a new platform efficiently
  • Lack of Scalability in performing AB Testing for multiple business cases


  • Srijan helped CRAIN drive down development time and cost, enabling the rapid rollout of content on 15+ websites using component-based development with Drupal 8
  • Migrated 1 Million+ Digital Stories (dated back from 1995) without impact on SEO, media management, and performance

Overall Approach

We leveraged Acquia Lightning, a custom distribution of Drupal 8, for developing the core CMS. The approach was to enable component-based development for all brand sites owned by Crain.

To ensure the technically correct delivery, the architecture features design templates based on global style guides. All templates are built using Pattern Lab, the online style guide based on the atomic design principles. Pattern Lab also has a central hub for viewing all components available on the platform, including the specific modules used by brands. Editors can use these design templates for diversifying the look and feel of their content pages without needing inputs from the IT department.

Consequently, page creation and publishing times have reduced by up to 50 percent, leading to an overall better editorial experience. Features include,

  • Creation of custom web page sections and layouts in real-time. For example, Ad Age editorial teams can now create pages during the Superbowl.
  • Ability to customize Ad spaces on individual pages, including the homepage, to make them non-intrusive and enhance user experience.
  • Better management of website revenues through a centralized system.

The new platform is highly scalable, allowing the reuse of sub-components while maintaining a consistent user experience across subsites. We rolled out 20+ websites and migrated over 1 million content pieces within weeks of launch without compromising SEO best practices, website performance and data security.

Tech Stack Used

  • Acquia Lightning based on Drupal 8
  • Global style guides from Pattern Lab

Business Benefits

  • Reduction in the timeline for churning out new webpages
  • Set up 50+ landing pages without developer intervention
  • Migration of 1 million+ published stories
  • 50% drop in development costs

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