Case Studies

  • 12 Weeks To Take Off: How Sitefinity Helped Appius Meet The Edinburgh Airport Challenge



    Edinburgh Airport is Scotland’s main airport, serving Scotland’s Capital City. A vibrant business and leisure destination, Edinburgh is famous for its annual festival and proud of its status as a world heritage site. Edinburgh Airport is a transatlantic gateway with flights to Newark, New York and Toronto in addition to over 100 other destinations. Over 40 airlines serve the airport, enabling 9 Million-plus passengers to pass through the airport annually—figures which are set to grow as Scotland’s international connections further develop.

    The scope of airport operations is broad, covering all aspects of terminal, infrastructure improvement and maintenance, passenger and baggage management, as well as administering the property portfolio and the retail business. As such, the airport works closely with a broad group of stakeholders, including but not limited to airlines, the Civil Aviation Authority, construction and engineering organisations, retailers and public transport operators, all to ensure a seamless airport experience for each customer.

    In June 2012, Edinburgh Airport was sold by BAA to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). As part of the sale, BAA agreed to provide services to Edinburgh Airport Limited (EAL) under a number of Transitional Services Agreements (TSAs), to allow EAL to operate the airport as a ‘going concern’, following the completion of the sale. EAL therefore had a desire, as part of the overall separation activities from BAA, to:

    • Migrate to a new Internet Platform before the expiration of the TSA covering the original internet solution, in November 2012.
    • Create a solid platform upon which to build future developments in functionality and brand.
    • Design a high-availability hosting environment, suitable for extremely high levels of peak traffic.

    After responding to an initial brief, Appius was selected to carry out the migration of the existing Vignette-based solution to EAL’s platform of choice: Sitefinity CMS By Telerik. Appius was chosen because they were a Sitefinity Platinum Partner and had extensive experience in complex implementations, particularly within the transport sector.

    Sitefinity CMS by Telerik enabled EAL to have a flexible web content management platform that provides an exceptionally solid foundation for future functionality development and planned rebranding project via an intuitive, user-friendly CMS platform.

    Sitefinity’s Module Builder was extremely instinctive to use, allowing the project to commence at a fast pace. The modules, and the Sitefinity News module in particular, provided time-saving efficiencies so developers could instead focus their prowess on optimizing the website, making improvements, and achieving faster page loading times.


    To fulfil the scope of the migration and web hosting work needed, EAL required a range of services:

    • A Content Management System to manage and deliver the EAL Websites – the preferred solution being Sitefinity CMS by Telerik.
    • The straight migration of general page content, as well as secondary content (CTAs /right hand links), images, documents, news articles, destination data and stores data from the existing CMS (Vignette Enterprise) to Sitefinity, using the existing site structure.
    • Development Services to manage the transfer (or creation from scratch as appropriate) of the EAL websites from their current location, as supplied by BAA.
    • Ongoing support services for the development of the EAL websites and any content updates.
    • Permissions to enable EAL to manage a number of the changes and content updates themselves.
    • Internet Hosting for EAL’s websites comprising:

    - Change Management
    - Incident Management
    - IT Service Continuity Management
    - Management Escalations
    - Monitoring
    - Perimeter Security
    - Release and Deployment Management
    - Service Desk
    - Supplier Management.

    • The Internet Hosting Service Elements, as a minimum, to be supported 24/7 x 365
    • Design a scalable solution for  4400 users per hour (Crisis Day) and 12000 per hour (Disaster Day) traffic.


    Sitefinity as the Preferred CMS

    The Edinburgh Airport website was built in Sitefinity 5.1 SP2 Professional version, with add-on modules acquired for Site Sync and E-mail Marketing. In building the site, careful consideration was made to ensure that it was displayed consistently across a range of browser / OS combinations, and built to fit to a minimum 1024 x 768 screen resolution to ensure that the site is easily viewable to the widest possible audience. The site was also built with Level A accessibility compliance as an absolute minimum, with AA compliance wherever possible.

    Homepage Redesign

    As part of the migration of the site into Sitefinity, the homepage required some redesign work. A jQuery banner was created to offer a promotional area on the homepage for easy manageability of imagery and optional associated messages and links. Widgets for Airport Parking, Flight Information and Weather were re-built, and the latest news and press releases were presented on the hompage through use of the Sitefinity News Module. Tweets from the EDI Airport account were integrated by use of the Twitter JavaScript API and a randomised selection of banners from the existing service provided by a third party with an AdBanners module, built in Sitefinity’s Module Builder.

    CMS Users Groups / Roles

    Sitefinity user roles for Authors, Editors, Designers and Administrators were included at launch.  Through the use of Sitefinity at the Professional level, more advanced workflow options are available to EAL if required in the future.

    Taxonomy and Content Classification

    Website content was classified using Sitefinity’s structured category classifications; store locations, store categories and news categories. No unstructured classifications were needed for the launch.

    Sitefinity Modules Used:

    News Module

    The standard Sitefinity News module was used to enable the publishing of press releases within the Media centre section of the site. News items were given a custom field for the Display Date, and can be categorised by their own categorisation, as per the above.

    RSS Feeds

    An RSS feed of recent News content (i.e. press releases) was made available on the news listing pages, the 'RSS feeds' page, and within the site footer.


    The site contains two methods of navigation. The primary (or ‘top’) navigation is displayed on all pages, and allows users to jump to instantly jump to another section of the site. The current section is displayed in a highlighted state.

    The secondary (or ‘left-hand’) navigation is displayed on all pages except the home page. This displays all level two pages within the current section, as well as any children of the currently selected page.

    Site Search

    The following are indexed by the out-of-the-box search control:

    • HTML content (for pages managed within Sitefinity)
    • News articles (titles and contents)
    • Managed documents (titles and contents)
    • Stores (titles only)

    As part of the rebuild of the site in Sitefinity, the existing homepage was adjusted in order to provide greater promotional flexibility in the form of a rotating carousel. Existing messages were re-prioritised and additional functionality was added by using a live Twitter feed.

    Custom Functionality and Integration

    Print / Email this Page

    All pages, aside from the home and hub pages, were created with links to allow users to print or share the current page visited.

    AdBanners Module

    AdBanners Module was built using module builder to replace the existing service provided by a third party, with the intention of providing EAL with basic management and reporting abilities for the adverts displayed on their homepage. One widget template which selects and displays a banner at random was devised for this, which also ensured that suitable analytics events were embedded for the purpose of tracking both impressions and clicks, passing to Analytics the suitable variables to enable reporting on the data collected.

    Destinations Module

    The ‘Destinations and airlines’ page provides visitors to the site with a list of destinations and an indication of which airlines provide those destinations. The list had to offer the option of filtering by destination, airline or both, depending on customer selection. Again, this was built with ease using Module Builder, with a widget using a custom control including Javascript to handle the filtering of the list and the generation of the ‘Book’ button where required for particular carriers.

    Weather Widgets

    A custom widget to show the current weather conditions at the airport and a more sophisticated weather forecasting widget were created by retrieving weather data from the Met Office DataPoint web services.

    Parking Quote Widget

    A custom widget was created to take dates entered by users into the parking quote form to the BAA airport parking booking system. Data pickers were created using the jQuery Tools DateInput plugin to provide maximum browser compatibility.

    Other aspects of the website rebuild included the use of iFrames for pages where flight timetables are served up, third party Flash implementations and Twitter integration.

    Restaurants and Shops

    Our developers used a combination of Sitefinity’s Module Builder functionality and some custom widgets, with Module Builder used to easily manage content for this section in nested content types.

    Chroma Integration

    Live flight information is served up to visitors through use of the integration of Arrivals and Departures data provided by a third party feed.

    This information is shown in three locations on the website: as part of a widget, on the homepage and on pages in the ‘Flight Information’ section. The lists in this section of the website were created as a custom widget with search functionality and configured within Sitefinity as an option to show either Arrivals or Departures.

    The second widget is for the homepage and was designed to show the next three flights, tabbed to show a view of either Departures or Arrivals. It offers a link to the main, more accessible pages featuring the search function with an auto complete on the ‘From’ and ‘To’ text boxes. The grid also allows sorting on all four columns.

    Providing a high availability hosting environment

    Edinburgh Airport’s website has an extremely high traffic load, with over 35,000 average page views every day and over 12 million page views in 2012. The website needs to have extremely high uptime to provide 9 million passengers with all the information they need to successfully make enquiries, book flights, check in, review airport’s services, and manage flight and car parking bookings etc. Not only uptime of the hardware running the website and services, but internet connectivity for the end user to access the site needs to be maintained at all times. The busiest times for the website are during a crisis and during severe weather when up to 250,000 individual visitors can access the site, more than ten times the daily average. In these high-usage times it is imperative that the website remains fully available and stable.

    Therefore carefully considered server infrastructure was designed to be highly available, and capable of withstanding a single server failure in each tier without compromising site availability. This was achieved with a load balanced web farm with SQL mirroring. The implementation also uses separate staging and production environments, kept aligned using Sitefinity Site Sync.  In addition the environment was designed so that in the event of peak resource demand, server capacity and resource allocation can be scaled up by Appius using virtualisation administration tools.

    A complex physical farm topology was devised with infrastructure in an Appius public hosting LAN, segmented into untrusted (public) and trusted (SQL server), behind dual enterprise class firewalls with network load balancing, a 2 x Web Front End Farm and a mirrored SQL server configuration consisting of primary, mirrored and witness. A staging server was deployed for content editing and approval and publishing to the production farm. This serves to enhance performance by removing the overhead of content management from the production farm, then site synchronisation deploys approved content to the production farm; ensuring changes are reflected across all servers.

    The architectural and design approach taken by Appius meant that we were able to provide EAL with an availability guarantee of 99.95% for the high level capacity required. This equates to just 4.38 hours of expected downtime across an entire year, and 24x7x365 incident response support when needed.  The availability and “health” of the servers are constantly monitored and provide automated voice message alerts to Appius 1st line support in the event of any issue.


    Appius was tasked with completing the entire project from start to finish within a twelve week period, a challenge our team of experts embraced with vigour. We knew that by using Sitefinity as our bedrock CMS, our designers and developers could focus on their areas of expertise, safe in the knowledge that Sitefinity’s out-of-the-box Module Builder would allow us to make rapid progress on elements requiring bespoke functionality and the use of widgets. We delivered the new, improved, optimised and Sitefinity managed site with ease within that tight timeframe.

    Within just 40 hours of taking the site live, nearly 8,000 new visitors viewed the site. The average page load time is under 3 seconds, a direct result of the optimisation work of our technical team. Google ranks the homepage with a PageSpeed score of 93, ahead of Heathrow Airport (Score: 58) and Facebook (Score: 91).

    This project required a solid development and functionality platform. Sitefinity has already proven to be that, plus more, meeting all of EAL’s exacting needs.  In fact, only three weeks after the launch of the new website, we were able to assist EAL in applying a full rebrand of their web presence in line with a new brand identity roll-out due to the intuitive content management controls Sitefinity always offers.


    The project was delivered on time, on budget, and within the tight timeframe specified by the commercial need to separate operations from BAA.

    Solution successfully load tested to 22000 user per hour level, almost doubled the specified “disaster day” traffic levels.

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