Case study: Swellnet

Case study: Swellnet


Develop custom CMS, back end administration and back end data management system for upgraded website.


Swellnet has grown from a small one-man operation sending out surf forecast faxes to Adelaide surf shops in 1999, to one of the largest surf webcam / report / forecast websites in the world. In 2002 Swellnet’s phase one expansion offered surf forecasts covering the whole of Australia, through the first version of its website. The phase 2 expansion in 2005 included a major overhaul of the website to include surf forecasts and reports covering over 150 locations around the country, and also to make way for a national network of beach webcams.  The company took on a dozen reporters and two new forecasters, filing updates from 4 timezones. The need for a detailed and complex backend management system was flagged early on in the redevelopment process.


swllnet_siteSmartsite partnered with Elk Creative, who were charged with visual direction and branding of the new site, as well as UI design and implementation. Elk Creative also developed  all the Flash charting and data elements. Smartsite scoped and developed everything else

Early consultation with Swellnet led to the creation of a  feature “wishlist”, which was then refined to a list of essentials. This formed the basis of the first draft scope document. Every piece of data to be presented on the site, and to be collected by reporters and forecasters, was then categorized and hammered into a fuzzy model. This model formed the basis for the first report / forecast database schema. There would eventually be three databases and schemas -

  • report / forecasts ( from surf reporters and forecasters )
  • archiving and collection of data (from meteorological websites worldwide)
  • content management ( for site content, editorial, ads etc. )

Key functions

  • simple data API for text and chart / graphical data
  • Admin reporter & forecaster management
  • Admin forecast & report management ( text & numeric parameters )
  • Home page + editorial content management
  • Automated online data collection, archive & retrieval system
  • daily overview ( what’s missing? )