Port of Antwerp

Port of Antwerp-Bruges

With our sustainable approach & smart integrations, we were able to revamp the digital presence of Europe's second largest port. 

Revamping the digital presence of Port of Antwerp-Bruges

Port of Antwerp-Bruges is the second largest port in Europe, with more than 300 liner services to more than 800 destinations, thereby ensuring worldwide connectivity. It is an important lifeline for the Belgian economy. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is also a leader in sustainable development, with a strong commitment to the circular economy and a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. With over a thousand employees, the Port Authority fulfills four important roles, being the landlord, operator, regulator for the ports of Antwerp and Bruges, as well as the community builder for all stakeholders.

Results of this partnership

Organic visibility

Improvement of page load time

Contact form effectiveness


Organic visibility


Improvement of page load time


Contact form effectiveness

The Challenge

Port of Antwerp

The Port authority of Port of Antwerp-Bruges deals with a large variety of different audiences: internal and external stakeholders, daughter companies, partners, and clients, both national and international in both B2C and B2B.

To support this ever-expanding range of innovative services and various audiences, in light of the rebranding and merge with Port of Bruges (completed in April 2022); the Marketing & Communications department was in urgent need of a new futureproof website platform to support all their online communications and services. 

This first project was to create a new mobile first, user-centric corporate website in line with the business and online strategy, allowing for a more effective use of inspirational and impactful content towards their various audiences. 

The solution

Port of Antwerp Bruges all platforms

Starting from the business strategy, brand values, and the unique role of the Port Authority, we co-created a new online strategy for them. This was translated into a multi-stream implementation roadmap for the information architecture, design, development, and content creation of the various streams. These included:  

  • An MVP for a new integrated corporate website, replacing the corporate websites of Port of Antwerp and Port of Zeebrugge 
  • A new job site for the job opportunities in the port authority
  • A sustainability website/annual report to support sustainability initiatives 
  • A new information architecture for the intranet/employee and guidance on the platform selection
  • Guidance on a top-notch search solution providing superior user experience and allowing to aggregate various data sources across the digital ecosystem
  • Various website applications and back-end integrations specific to the Port Authority
  • And many more to come...

Adhering to the highest standards of security and IT operations, we created a composable architecture allowing to update all existing legacy platforms. This approach involves using a collection of carefully selected tools and technologies that form one connected platform through a series of APIs. For example, the platform has live integrations with a translations provider, a SAAS Search Solution, a CRM system, a mailing system, a job vacancies system, and a newly created nautical message tool.

The new platform allows for the development of an ecosystem of digital services, with proper lifecycle management of applications in mind. At the same time it reduces risks and dependencies, while providing a faster time to market for digital marketing communication iniatives. As a result, by being able to add, extract or change tools and technologies as needed without impacting other components of the architecture, Port of Antwerp-Bruges can quickly adapt to future changes if needed. 

The Reference’s team was able to understand very well the needs of our organization that communicates with a wide range of stakeholders. They challenged and advised us on our future-oriented technology architecture in a very pleasant way. It is agile and allows us to quickly respond to changes in the market and demands from our customers and partners.

Nathalie Van Impe, Chief Communication & Marketing Officer at Port of Antwerp-Bruges

Ship at port

Besides the build part, our marketing department also played a key role in this project. Port of Antwerp-Bruges had a lot of new content to create and translate, and lots of existing content to update. They were struggling with this monumental task to organize and prioritize it effectively.

To address this challenge, our team conducted a comprehensive SEO audit, keyword research and content gap analysis to identify areas of improvement. By identifying priorities and creating a content roadmap, the team was able to guide Port of Antwerp-Bruges towards an efficient content production and translation process, while keeping tabs on SEO best practices.

How we made this work

Search at its core

Through a series of workshops with stakeholders in- and outside of the organization, it was clear to us that given the huge and diverse volume of content and audiences, a traditional navigation structure with lots of menu’s would result in website visitors getting lost and frustrated. That is why we opted for Algolia as a SAAS search engine with categorized search results as the focal point of the corporate website. This allows visitors to quickly and easily find the content or contact information they need, without having to navigate through multiple menus.

At the same time, it provides the marketing department with insights on how the website is used, what content is lacking, and to provide synonyms for common searches, further improving the user experience. 

port of Antwerp Bruges mobile

Smart integrations

By smart integrations, we were able to streamline and enhance various business processes to improve efficiency and drive results. First of all, since Port of Antwerp-Bruges relied heavily on storytelling in their marketing efforts, we integrated their digital asset management system (DAM) to ensure that everything was centrally managed and tracked.

Next to that, we implemented a solution to efficiently publish foreign-language content live on the website. By using an API connection to their translation agency, we were able to easily integrate translated content back into our platforms, drastically reducing the effort and cost of content management across multiple languages. 

To improve employer branding of the Port Authority and list the job opportunities of Port of Antwerp-Bruges, we created a new job vacancies website integrated with SAP SuccessFactors, which acted as a backend system for the HR department. Job postings from SAP SuccessFactors are pushed to the website and candidates who expressed interest in a job are pushed, directly into the SAP SuccesFactors flow for follow-up by the HR department.

Understanding the Port Authority's activities and working on a multi-stream roadmap during the merger of two ports was challenging. Our success was thanks to the teams' flexibility, partnership, and entrepreneurial mindset. We're proud of what we achieved together and excited for new opportunities in the ever-evolving digital space of Port activities.

Frederik Taevernier, Program Manager

An efficient content review and approval workflow

To manage content Drupal CMS is used. To ensure that only approved content can be published on the websites, we configured a content validation process in Drupal allowing various teams and departments to manage their content on the website in a decentralized, but controlled and coordinated manner. Also, to ensure that no outdated content is present on the website, we set-up notifications in the CMS to alert teams when a page has not been updated for a long time. Given the volume of content on the website, this proved to be of real added value for the Port Authority.

The services that made this happen

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