RBI :: Enterprise-level WordPress Consultant / Lead Developer

I was contracted as a WordPress Consultant (Lead Developer) for RBI who are one of the few enterprise-scale users of WordPress. I was responsible for technically owning the WordPress-side of Estates Gazette, the leading UK Property Data and Intelligence Publishers. The site consisted of a heavily customised WordPress backend that allowed their large editorial team to create and manage content and its associated workflow over print, web and mobile. The front end was a responsive, gated portal for paid subscribers (100,000+ property developers, lawyers, architects etc) with a wealth of useful content, tools and data. Free to air articles were also possible to entice interested parties to sign up. The site was hosted on amazon’s beanstalk, with daily auto scaling too. It has a very heavy caching requirement due to the high traffic / interaction nature of the site (100,000+ heavy users a month, 200,000+ news articles in database etc.) We used a heavily customised version of wp super cache that allowed for the wider organisations content gating requirements etc. The site I inherited was managed by a team of in-house (offshore) developers with a varied level of WordPress knowledge. The core theme (canvas), the WordPress version and the plugins were all very outdated and thus insecure too. Firstly I updated the stack, rigorously regression test it before release. I then undertook a full code audit (50+ plugins) and refactored the code using WordPress’s latest hooks. I was then able to start designing, prototyping, and developing new functionality (with iterative feedback from the product owner). This included:

ElasticSearch

Setting up and utilising Elastic Search within WordPress for all searches (ElasticSearch is a enterprise level search used by the likes of Tesco and Wikipedia). It improved search speed by 1100% and terms returned were up to x7 times more accurate. I also started investigations into the utilisation of ElasticSearch as a data source for high traffic mobile apps enabling WordPress to act as a Mobile Apps CMS.

Live Polling

Creating the ability for the editorial team to create live real-time, cache sensitive blogs for key events like Brexit, Budgets etc. Features included aggregation and subsequent real-time filtering of both internal and external data sources (including the BBC, Sky, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Linked In, Facebook etc). In addition I customised Word Presses ‘PressThis’ feature to allow both internal and external journalists to submit articles of interest straight to the editor by simply tapping a button on their browser or via their mobile. Other functionality I developed was wide ranging from new features like the automated the creation of a Digital archive for the Estates Gazette Print Edition (weekly glossy property magazine) to a wealth of technical debt and bug fixes. I also implemented a series of custom API endpoints utilising Word Presses new Rest API for use by WoodWing their magazine publishing tool.
I introduced a better, leaner git process that was based on feature branching and minimised contamination of old code from offshore development teams and worked alongside their Senior DevOps Engineer perfecting the local, dev, systest and uat environments and maximising their similarities with the live environment to minimise surprises (legacy) when code went live! I also managed to find time to educate and train both the editorial team, journalists and the testing team about key WordPress functionality and features. Tools used whilst there included: Vagrant, VVV, Git, BitBucket, Jira, Confluence, HipChat + Slack, Amazon’s BeanStalk and EC2, ElasticSearch, TeamCity, Command Line, WP-CLI. WEBSITES: www.egi.co.uk , www.estatesgazette.com , www.reedbusiness.com

BuzzMyVideos :: Mobile CMS, UX, UI and Build

BuzzMyVideos is a leading MCN with over 5000 YouTube channels. I reported directly to the owners (two ex-YouTube executives). The majority of work I was tasked with involved setting up and managing a new mobile arm for the business that enabled their creators (including Roberto Saviano) to have their own apps on both the Google Play and Apple’s App Store. The apps were targeting the fans of the creators and contained a social feed with timeline-based posts from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, a chat room, direct messaging with the creator and exclusive CMS-powered content and media not available elsewhere. My duties included planning and AB testing the UX, designing the base UI’s and creating detailed wire-frames and user journeys. I also setup an App CMS / Management suite on the Google Cloud and built a range of hybrid Mobile apps for individual Creators (JS / CSS3 / Rest API-based). I was also responsible for the day to day management of two offshore Mobile Development Agencies and built their new wordpress-based website.

Playabl :: IOS & Android Football Score Prediction App for Chelsea, Real Madrid etc

  • Technical Director for a range of Football Score prediction apps for the likes of Chelsea, Fulham, Real Madrid, Monaco and the Wolves.
  • Apps were built using the Ionic Framework within Cordova and are built using a combination of HTML5, CSS and Angular
  • All apps are ranked highly on both Apple’s App Store and Android Play Store.
  • Role included enabling the owners to gain clarity and visibility over the current state of the build and deliver the next steps to complete production on time and on budget.
  • Instilled process, setup and deployed project management tools, recruited developers and mentored the team.
  • UX audits, AB Testing and QA Control.
APPLE APP STORE: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/developer/playabl-limited/id1022893401 ANDROID PLAY STORE: https://play.google.com/store/apps/dev?id=5672004587872613797 WEBSITE: http://playabl.com/  

WPMotion :: Touch, Swipe, Gesture WordPress

I have just completed WPMotion a premium wordpress theme and potentially a web service too. This site is currently running in it. Its designed with portfolio and presentation sites in mind and allows you to navigate with click, touch, swipe and even gesture via leap motion. It utilises Reveal JS and supports all standard wordpress functionality (posts, pages, attachments, categories, tags, search, comments, galleries etc). Check it out at www.wpmotion.net.

Hogarth Worldwide :: Freelance Technical Director

I was recruited to assist when their Technical Lead departed and just before a new Head of Digital took over. My role was very varied and included:
  • Working on apps, websites, online tools and digital display advertising for the likes of HSBC, Santander, Dior, BetFair and British American Tobacco.
  • Assisted outsourcing the majority of their development work to their rapidly growing network of owned off shore development teams.
  • Assisting HR to recruit the right fulltime employees (developers and QA) and project-based freelancers (Mobile, PHP + FrontEnd) via the ‘right’ channels and subsequently interviewing them.
  • Helping align the design team with frameworks (Bootstrap) and principles (Mobile First) to ensure the minimum friction between London-based design and offshore development.
  • Using WordPress as both a CMS, Mobile App Foundation and rapid prototyping tool to assist conveying complex sites and solutions with the minimum of time
  • Assisting the trans-creation team (localization) in automating the translations of large Drupal, WordPress and custom CMS based sites
  • Working alongside client services to assist managing clients expectations
  • Creating a MediaSpec Hub that aggregated all the media (banner) spec from publishers and
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  • Gave significant advice on internal technical projects like Zadar, SocialStream and Dep (a highly customized version of Jira)
  • Ultimately owning all internal technical decisions relating to both projects and how they are built and how both developers and QA work
  • Extensive working with and managing of offshore teams based in Romania, India and Africa to build apps, websites and online tools
  • Writing technical documentation on sites, builds and apis and Helping PMs with briefs, SOW’s and Functional Specs.
  • Managing the entire multilingual build of the new Hogarth Worldwide website and all their global satellite office
  • Instigating the use of Atlassians HipChat and GitHub Enterprise to both increase accountability and visibility, and streamline the development process
*Hogarth Worldwide is one of the fastest growing companies in the UK. Acting as the production hub for fellow WPP agencies (JWT, Ogilvy, Grey) and its own clients (Nike, HSBC, Burberry, Dior, HTC etc) its rapid success has seen it grow from 12 – 2000 employees in just 5 years, with over 18 offices around the world.

BAT :: Android and IOS Social Location App

Whilst at Hogarth I was required to build a multi-language location based app for BAT. It used a wealth of APIs including Gigya for social login, GoogleMaps for Maps, Foursquare for locations and others for age verification etc. The idea was to show users the best places to smoke in specific cities like London, Zurich and Seoul. It was built for both Android and IOS and i was involved at every stage from numerous meetings with client, the UX, the UI, the recruitment of the wider team, code reviews and the occasional rewrite. The backend platform was built upon WordPress and utilised a clever MongoDB based API, it was hosted on an Amazon EC2 server that i also setup.

Santander :: Mobile Banking UI Framework

Whilst at Hogarth Worldwide (a WPP Company)  I was responsible for the creation of a new HTML5 Mobile Banking UI Framework. The idea was to allow Santander to rapidly prototype and produce mobile-based, platform agnostic, product-related Mobile App UIs, and potentially Web Applications, for their customers. I investigated using Semantic UI and other UI frameworks but decided to build something more bespoke and light. I led a team of UX Designers and together we created a range of reusable, stable, responsive UI elements including Navigation, Sliders, Knobs and Cards.

Santander :: Student Mentoring Network

Whilst at Hogarth I was responsible for overseeing the UX and Development of a new Student Portal for Santander that allows students to team up with mentors and allows them to gain work experience. The platform I chose was BuddyPress and great care was taken to ensure that the User Journeys and User Experience was married exactly to the BuddyPress platform ensuring massive efficiencies within the build. The site has lots of functionality including video uploads, YouTube channels, twitter feeds, private and public messages, secure areas etc. I also had to meet the client on numerous occasions to discuss the projects ongoing developments.

Native Design :: Lead Creative Technologist

Native Design is a leading integrated experience design company that delivers both industrial and interaction design solutions to many of the worlds’ leading brands including Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, HP, Audi, Mercedes, Bentley and the BBC. They are based in London, San Francisco and Amsterdam. I was employed as their lead creative technologist, helping them create the cutting edge, intelligent products of tomorrow that help disrupt key industries and markets. The majority of my client-based work for is still under very strict NDAs but involved working on key Hewlett Packard, Pernod Ricard, Bowers and Wilkins and SFR products. In addition to the client-centric creative technology i was also responsible for more Technical Direction-orientated roles like sourcing, recruiting and managing their Windows, Android, IOS and Arduino developers, establishing a secure, scalable developer environment (GitHub Enterprise Edition, Jira, HipChat), setting up a Dev, Staging and Production (EC2) server and the associated work flows to support it. I also technically vetted all their internal Labs projects, installed a company-wide knowledge sharing platform and assisted the directors, both technically and creatively, on many successful pitches too.

Pernod Ricard's OPN :: Lead Creative Technologist

Pernod Ricard: digitalizing the world of premium drinks

Press Release: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/technology/opn-pernod-ricard-cocktail-library/

Press Release: https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2017/01/pernod-ricard-takes-lead-on-cocktail-hometainment/

As the lead Creative Technologist at Native Design I was responsible for a new intelligent product and platform for one of the worlds largest drink manufacturers, Pernod Ricard whose brands include Absolute Vodka and Beefeater Gin. They have released a press release of the project I was involved with, entitled Project Gutenburg. An NDA prevents me from disclosing any specifics other than the fact that the product was extremely disruptive to traditional retail methods, it aimed to be sustainable, it utilised both Wifi Direct and Bluetooth LE and had numerous patentable aspects in software, hardware, data and the wider ecosystem.

In addition we had to build both IOS and Android powered control apps that demonstrated a wealth of functionality including rich interactive, premium photo realistic experiences, product catalogues, social interactions, inventories, mCommerce and logistics.

I was also responsible for designing and building the eCommerce Platform that was based on Magento, allowing realtime ordering and fulfilment of the product.

The project required regular visits to Paris to meet the clients face to face, and involved numerous board level presentations and demonstrations to the relevant parties.

The project was run using Agile methodologies, utilising both GitHub and HipChat for communications and versioning.