Highly-Custom Drupal 9 Website Built for Voiceover Business
Since 1998, Portland, Oregon-based InternetJock has helped advertisers, media publishers, and other clients find the perfect professional voice talent (jocks) for radio spots, eLearning videos, social media campaigns, and many other types of projects.
With a “butterfly” business model, InternetJock’s website allows the voice talent to maintain profiles and upload recordings as one wing, and clients manage their accounts, upload scripts, schedule recording sessions, download finished recordings, and pay for services on the other.
Technical Scoping Phase
We love building highly-custom websites like InternetJock’s where the technology we build is the primary way customers interact with the company and it serves as the business infrastructure. This presents a unique technology challenge and our team has a great track record of success with this type of project.
From March-April 2021 Bear Group’s team of a solution architect, technical project manager, and lead developer kicked things off with a deep dive with InternetJock’s team to create the blueprint of the new systems for their business. The current website was entirely custom-built and needed to be rebuilt over a standard set of modern technologies and a content management system (CMS).
After gaining a solid understanding of the current system, recording walkthroughs, and identifying key features, we produced a set of interactive wireframes and sessions to organize the user flows prior to design.
Drupal 9 CMS
While the InternetJock business is very unique, their website would also need some standard web features like various content types, user accounts, user profiles, and, of course, security. From a platform perspective, the Drupal 9 CMS made sense to meet their needs and was chosen as the base for their new system.
Considered to be a “swiss army knife” CMS, Drupal’s core features work well for butterfly model businesses, it has a strong community library of modules, and our team is very comfortable creating new Drupal modules and leveraging its robust API for the custom work.
Custom Developed Features
With an extremely customized workflow built over time, our team knew we’d need to replicate and improve this process within Drupal. Some of the most notable customizations are listed below.
Jock (Voiceover Talent) Profiles
Once we established the types of data a Jock needed to store and the interactions they needed to accomplish within the system, we built enhanced profile pages with the ability to upload all types of media, including video and demo reels.
Filtering & Search
With thousands of jock profiles, clients need a good way to research and match their favorites. We used Solr and custom development to build a robust look-up tool and sidebar filtering.
Probably the most complex and unique aspect to this is the order workflow. Once clients locate the demo category and jock they want to work with, they need to complete an order form associated with that demo by uploading their copy, defining the spot they want, and then submitting the order. That then informs the Jock, and they can communicate via the site, record in their studio, then upload it back for the client to complete the transaction. An order can contain multiple spots for that jock or production jock.
Rates vary by the type of spot being recorded and the length of copy. There is a dynamic connection between the rates in Stripe and rates in Drupal so that invoices are calculated correctly.
InternetJock has a proprietary Copytimer that is leveraged to help evaluate the time it will take to read a spot. The copytimer provides the customer with an estimated cost based on speed and length and was completely rebuilt in Drupal.
In addition to a full-site redesign, there were many custom dashboards added depending on different roles in the site, order management, admins, clients, jocks — all see unique pages for their role. InternetJock opted to work with a long-time Bear Group partner, Design Hovie Studios, on the look and feel for the website’s front end.
Some of the notable integrations include:
- Stripe Payments for dynamic rates and client invoicing
- Plaid payment verification
- ZenDesk for service desk and support tools
- SMS notifications with Twilio
An Affinity for Voiceover
For Greg Bear, president at Bear Group, this project was especially interesting since he started his career producing media for CD-Roms in the Interactive Media Group at Microsoft in the 1990s. In practical terms, that meant working in the audio production studios at Microsoft, running voice recording sessions, and slicing/dicing that with the new digital audio tools and audio compression at the time. He also led some composing, recording, and sound design to complete production.
“It was a real treat to see how far voiceover work has come since then. No matter how advanced or accessible the technology has become, it still comes down to the quality of the voice at the end of the day.” — Greg Bear