SPARK is the rail knowledge hub managed by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB). It was launched in 2011 as a key resource for the international rail research community to find information on past and current work. Through sharing this information, they reduce duplication, increase awareness, and encourage networking and collaboration.
RSSB’s SPARK website was released on SharePoint 2013, which since April has become an unsupported software. To address this issue, it was decided that SPARK should be migrated from SharePoint to Sitecore to provide consistency across the technology stack.
The existing SharePoint website had become outdated, making it increasingly challenging to maintain and deliver an optimal user experience.
An initial proof of concept was conducted by migrating a select number of documents to Sitecore in order to substantiate the migration process. ClerksWell began building the SPARK area within the Sitecore platform, creating new page templates which seamlessly integrated with RSSB's Sitecore. For the rail knowledge hub, 22,000 records with multiple documents had to be migrated. In order to accomplish this, ClerksWell developed a bulk upload function which contained a separate script capable of reading data within Excel files and performing a mini migration.
ClerksWell utilised Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) components, making it easier for RSSB to maintain the solution, streamline development, and reduce the amount of back-end development required. A user-friendly, interactive, and visually appealing design was produced, building on wireframes provided by RSSB and incorporating unique, clear icons to emphasise simplicity and ease of use.
Front-end customisations were implemented on top of SXA components to create a distinct identity for SPARK. Additionally, user access levels were created ensuring different user types had access to the most relevant content.
Site search was configured through SXA, while integration with the research catalogue search was successfully achieved, enhancing content discoverability. Custom indexing and filtering mechanisms were implemented to ensure the most relevant content surfaced, further improving the overall user experience.
Overall, this was a successful migration to Sitecore 10.2. The new site allows users and rail organisations worldwide to access important research and documentation
Moving the website to Sitecore meant that Spark had a fresh new site, fit for users and internal teams, allowing RSSB to facilitate knowledge sharing within the international rail research community. The support of the Sitecore team who manage the website creates less dependency on other technologies and external support for these systems.
Have a look at the images below to see the outcome in full.