How do you build an ever-evolving, scalable digital platform for one of the fastest-growing tech companies in North America?

Industry
  • Biotech
Services
  • Architecture
  • Web Development
  • Product Management
  • QA Automation
  • DevOps
Technology
  • Drupal 9
  • Vue JS
  • Nightwatch JS
  • Acquia Cloud
  • REST Integrations

TL;DR

  • Powerful Drupal 9 based digital platform
  • Web component-based design system
  • Enterprize-grade SLA
  • Security compliance

The challenge

Twist Bioscience is one of the world’s leading biotech companies. In 2021, Fast Company ranked Twist Bioscience 6th on their list of most innovative biotech companies (coming in just after Pfizer and Moderna). In 2020, Deloitte ranked the company 60th on their list of fastest-growing technology companies in America.

In such a competitive market, Twist needed a full-scale marketing website that would position it as an industry leader while also acting as the company’s main lead-generation engine.

On top of that, due to their innovative nature, speed and responsiveness were critical factors in the development cycles. This was combined with the reality that there is little to no room for error within the biotech industry. An interesting challenge arose.

  • Scale frequently, rebuild rarely. We needed an architecture that would support long-term, fast-paced growth without needing to be rebuilt often.
  • A Corporate DNA with a start-up feel. As we mentioned, speed and responsiveness were critical factors in the development cycles. On the other hand, extra caution and attention to detail were also necessary since we were working with a biotech company.
  • Multi-site & multilingual support. In addition to their main brand, Twist also has subsidiaries. These subsidiaries needed websites that would use the same components and a similar layout as the main site but would also have their own design identity. Twist also needed multilingual support for a Chinese website that would use the same Database as the English website but with a designated domain.
  • Accurate roles & permissions system. Such a heavy-weighted content system usually comes with the need for a well-defined roles and permissions system. This was the case for Twist. Each department had ownership over a different section on the site and needed to be able to control it easily without stepping on toes or affecting other places on the site.
solution

The Solution

There are three main factors that allowed this project to work so well for so long: the correct technological decisions, a refined delivery process, and a high-quality support service.

Technology

Drupal is the content management system we used for Twist, which came at their own request. Twist’s R&D team did their research and found that Drupal would be the best solution for their scalability, performance, compliance, and managerial needs.

We agreed. Here’s why:

  1. Scalability and (safe) freedom: We consider Drupal a set of tools that can be used and combined in different ways per use case rather than a pre-defined, strict architecture. With Twist, we enjoyed the freedom to implement each requirement in different ways: from the data model level (node, custom entities, paragraph, taxonomies, etc.) to the different rendering options (Twig, REST API) to the different front-end frameworks we could choose from (Angular, React, Vue, etc.). This type of tech freedom allowed us to fulfill the fast-paced scalability requirements needed for this project.
  2. Out-of-the-box solutions for complex problems: Drupal comes with beautifully designed solutions for some of the main challenges we faced in this project. The multi-site and translations architectures along with the flexible roles and permissions system were just what we needed to deliver an elegant solution with minimum risk.
  3. Designed for high levels of performance: Drupal gives developers a high level of control over what goes in and makes it easier to create lightweight applications since its architecture minimizes the number of dependencies it comes with out of the box.
  4. As secure as it gets: Drupal is known as one of the world’s most secure CMSs thanks to the high standards upon which it was and continues to be built, as well as functions and mechanisms it provides, including secure identification, role-based access control, and permissions, advanced validation mechanisms, Symfony-based core engine, a secure template engine (Twig) and more.

As for the front-end side, Twist’s website is using a semi-decoupled architecture. Some site sections are generated by a template engine (i.e. Twig) and others are using VueJS with REST API.

The website also uses a web components—based design system that works as a stand-alone library and integrates with the main site alongside other digital assets Twist is using.

Delivery Process

To continuously produce high-quality deliverables, we have created a holistic process that addresses all aspects of project management and development while eliminating overheads as much as possible.

Our project management process uses Agile methodology, incorporating sprints with a predefined scope and timeline, different managerial meetings— each to fulfill a different purpose (dailies, weeklies, retrospectives, etc.), and Jira as the software that brings it all together.

We have also incorporated a mature CI/CD pipeline that automates as much as possible—from unit and integration tests to releases— in order to minimize human errors.

Support Service

The website we created is now one of Twist’s most important digital assets. In addition to showcasing them as a global leader in their field, it also incorporates critical marketing and recruiting operations. As such, a high level of support is needed to ensure the numerous content editors working on the site can do their work efficiently and, of course, quickly solve any functional issues that may arise (not to mention downtime).

We created a multi-level system of support so that any technical issues would be quickly identified and solved. We backed up a support team available 24/7 with an automated test process that alerts this team when needed. We also created a content support team that assists and supports different content-related issues with a top-notch SLA.

delivery process

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