Huw Waters
By Huw Waters on 13 Feb, 2024
When it comes to helping clients create unforgettable connections and experiences for their customers with Sitecore, it’s safe to say we know a thing or two. A Sitecore agency with over 15 years’ experience, our certified Sitecore developers and strategy consultants can identify and address your business pain-points and develop game-changing digital transformation solutions that improve how you connect with your customers.

That’s why our long-standing client Great Western Railway (GWR) approached us for their Sitecore 10 upgrade – and we were happy to help. 

GWR had been successfully running their website on Sitecore 8 for years. But it was becoming apparent that an upgrade to the latest version of Sitecore – Sitecore 10.2 – was necessary. 

FirstGroup, of which GWR is a part, has strict security requirements – as you would expect from a transport provider dealing with thousands of customers and transactions every day. 

Upgrading to Sitecore 10 would bring higher security measures, as well as performance enhancements.

Upgrading to Sitecore 10 – what we did

To ensure we were on the right track for technical set-up, as well as implementation, our expert Sitecore team carried out a proof of concept (PoC) to enable us to:

  • Review the official Sitecore 10 documentation and define requirements together with GWR

  • Try out a number of different ways to work with Sitecore, building different components to achieve the same thing for comparison

  • Provide a real-life example outlining the differences and benefits

  • Demo the PoC to the GWR Content Team to ensure everyone was comfortable and on-board with our approach

As part of the upgrade, it was also important to remain in line with Google’s Core Web Vitals – a set of metrics that measure real-world user experience for loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of websites – so we built a test page as part of the PoC, which achieved near-perfect Google Lighthouse website quality scores.

So, we knew we would be providing GWR with a much faster website, which provided a better customer experience.

The newly-upgraded GWR website benefits greatly from using Next.js – purposefully built with high performance in mind – and used by the likes of Netflix and TikTok. Next.js makes the website a lot faster for people to use.

We’ve implemented the latest technology for GWR, including:

  • Next.js

  • Sitecore 10 .Net CMS running in Docker containers

  • Kubernetes

  • Terraform Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

For GWR, as with any organisation still running their website on Sitecore 8, the complexity of the upgrade came from moving a large platform, built on the legacy ASP.Net MVC full post-back approach where all pages are rendered by Sitecore on a Windows back-end, into a headless set-up.

The introduction of Next.js and React in the front-end represents a significant advancement for GWR. This modern framework ensures faster page-loads, interactive interfaces, and a significant reduction in server load through efficient client-side rendering. This not only heightens user engagement but also optimises the website for better SEO performance.

DCX also looked after the majority of the content migration, cleaning up any unwanted content and pages along the way.

Thanks to Sitecore 10, GWR now has:

  • Flexibility and freedom in front-end development

  • Improved content delivery

  • Faster server response times

  • Enhanced scalability

  • Easier and faster deployments

  • Better resource utilisation, leading to cheaper infrastructure costs

How DCX can help you upgrade to Sitecore 10

A Sitecore 10 upgrade is a strategic move towards using state-of-the-art technology to provide exceptional digital experiences, that will demonstrate your commitment to innovation and set new industry standards for performance and user engagement.

But it's more than just a simple technical decision. An upgrade to Sitecore 10 will also give you the opportunity to look at your content strategy, clean up outdated or ineffective content, re-evaluate your digital marketing approach, and develop new plans to deliver a better digital customer experience.

Our experts are ready to take your call and help. Just get in touch.

Do Sitecore. Better.