Centro Arte Alameda is a cultural centre located in Santiago, Chile, recognized as one of the main characters in local artistic and cultural world.
It has an online streaming platform focused on independent international films, that needed mayor help.

The main issue was with the suscription process. The agency that crafted their website had decided to use an external provider for the suscription process, a beta version that gave little information to the company, required constant user action to renew the suscription (insted of automatic renewal and take action to cancel it). It was the opposite of user friendly, both for admins and for their clients.

The effect of this issue was that retention was below 10%, and that they had little to no control over the client’s information, reports were limited and not adecuate to the business level Centro Arte Alameda (CAA) handles. 

The proposed solution was to change the whole suscription process, making it in house, in order to make better use of the client’s information for marketing campaigns, and with the main goal to increase retention levels

Little did I know of what was to come.

The Pandora box

Kick Off

Opening the box

Recieving the box

A cursed gift

The first step was to have a quick look «behind the scenes», so we could check what were we working with. The initial plan was to leave the main platform as it was, and to change only what affected the payment and subscription process.

Most of the changes would afect CAA personel’s experience, in matters of visibility and control of their income, account handling and reporting. Their customers’ experience should only be affected in the payment and renewing processes.

Initial estimations of the proyect duration was about 2 months.

Opening the box


Finding the right match for the role

Among the many subscription plugins in the market, we needed to find one that best suited our needs, and that we could integrate with local payment options. There were special requirements that were not always available.

After some testing, we found one that suited the client´s needs, and developed internally a plugin to integrate it with the local payment platform that was already in use.

This allowed us to work very closely with the platform’s representatives to make the transition smoother.

Opening the box

The curses released


When we changed the payment pages, things started to break. Some out-dated plugins and the base theme had to be updated, and that lead to a series of errors in the website that affected user experience. First it started small, an avatar Icon that did not show, an image that was not in the right size… but the moment we fixed an issue, 2 or 3 new ones appeared.

Soon enough we were using backups to start from scratch.

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All the curses

The curses released

Trying to close the box

No Hope

At this point, most of the work was debugging problem after problem. The site had every bad practice in the book. We found manually added pieces of code almost everywhere, hidden pages that could not be modified from whitin the site, but only directly with the asgency that built the site, just to mention a few.

And every time we believed we had solved everything, some new issue appeared that stopped us from going live with the new version.

Time passed and the original release date was long gone, and we didn’t have security that we could make the change and keep the site running.  

The curses released



At this point, in the team we learned that the only way to deliver something of the necessary quality was to build everything from scratch. So the challenge was to do so, with minimal changes to the user interface.

Once that desition was made, we went up to the challenge.

All the curses


We are emotional beings

During this whole process, we had recurrent meetings with the client, who grew more and more impatient as the release date kept being posponed. People feared that the desition to make the change was a mistake that could cost them their jobs, and started to look for someone to take the blame. At this point, the whole project was in danger of being cancelled.

Understanding this emotional state, allowed me to not only explain the situation in detail to the main stakeholders, but also to take full responsability for the delays, releasing some of the internal pressure our counterparts where suffering, and buying enough time to deliver a product of the desired quality.
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The red carpet


The final product took almost 3 times the original estimations. It changed from a partial change to a complete reconstruction of the site. It became a human relations challenge, besides the technical challenge it already was.

But it paid off.

The final site runs smoothly, and improvements in user experience were added to the site, taking advantage of the fact that we had to rebuild it from scratch. Every problem is an opportunity.

Retention grew within estimations, increasing CAA’s monthly income exponentially. We even added a subscription option that requires no credit card, wich made the site much more democratic (one of their values).



Personal Lessons

This is probably one of the most challenging projects I’ve faced so far. There are many things that I would do differently now, and that I do differently now, thanks to this project. But one of the things tha make me proud and that I maintain is excellency. Being straighforward and delivering a quality product were and have always been my priorities. We delivered a site that worked the way it should have worked from the beginning, delivering both users and our client the best possible experience, given their particular needs, and did not yield to the pressure of fear, by delivering a website that did not meet the highest standards.
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Post Credits

For those who stay until the end

A gift

As a Marvel fan, I had to add at least one post credit scene.

¿So why did I choose this case?
A case with so many problems, having so many others that went smoothly, to choose from.
Because it was a difficult process. It is in hard times when we put ourselves to the test, and working under pressure can break people, or worse, can make people loose their values.

I am a leader, and a leader does what’s right, not what’s his/her best interest of the moment.
I hope this case reflects that.

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