AngloInfo :: Multisite WordPress Consultancy and Development

Angloinfo is the largest online community of global citizens, with over ninety local sites across the globe . I was contracted both to advise, spec and deliver a massive overhaul of their multisite WordPress platform that’s used both as a CMS to manage their sites content and over five hundred customised blogs with tens of millions of monthly page views. As the sole developer my work was 40% front end and 60% backend. My first task was to undergo an audit of the site and its structure and then to make recommendations to the necessary stakeholders about the options available and the time, cost, risks associated. Once the plan and process had been agreed and signed off my first task was to update WordPress from version 3.0 to the current version 4.7. This was considerably challenging as no downtime was allowed and the legacy system had been highly customised 5 years previously to allow functionality that wasn’t available within WordPress at that time. All functionality had to be mapped across into the new WordPress environment and workarounds were created to implement the bespoke existing customisations. The data involved was colossal (terabytes of images, hundreds of gigabytes of data, millions of posts and comments, thousands of users) and it all needed seamlessly porting to the new environments. Numerous Automation scripts were written, tested and then deployed to assist with this task (legacy data was ported first and new ‘current’ data was continuously mapped during the pre-live phase). The responsive sites frontend had to follow strict design / brand guidelines and utilized a laravel-powered Rest API to manage the navigation and other custom elements of the site including managing cookies, analytics, user states and advertising. The backend was highly customized too allowing the different user types to access and control a variety of areas of their sites ranging from Network & Site Admins, Franchisees and individual blog users. Documentation  was written to assist in the transition for both internal AngloInfo users and the end users (bloggers). The site was hosted via Amazon EC2 and had to continuously scale to cope with the significant traffic loads. All media was served via a CDN and the utilized Cloudflare for caching. Other areas that were investigated and proposed included the use of AMP pages, leveraging ElasticSearch for heavy queries, Domain mapping and personalised websites and native Mobile blogging apps for AngloInfo bloggers. WEBSITE: www.angloinfo.com

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/  

Ibiza Delivers :: Magento-based Yacht Provisioning Website

Ibiza delivers is a online supermarket offering 24/7 deliveries to hotels, villas and yachts on the island of Ibiza. It has been compared to Ibiza’s version of Ocado and is used regularly by thousands of customers including celebrities like P Diddy, Jay Z, Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and David Cameron. I have been heavily involved in all aspects of their Magento-based site from its inception and on an ad hoc basis as a Technical consultant. I have just created a new site / app for them that caters for their growing business in Yacht Provisioning enabling Chefs to order provisions for same day delivery via boat. It has been optimized for both Mobile and Tablet.

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.

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.

Hewlett Packard :: Android Customisation & Launcher

Whilst lead Creative Technologist at Native Design, the integrated design agency, I was required to oversee the technical and development aspects of three new Nexus devices for HP – a 7, 8 and 10 inch tablet. The majority of the project was the modification of the Android platform to make it more aligned with the HP brand and improve certain core experiences through its customisation. This fascinating, yet uncommon area of Android, included rewriting and redesigning core aspects of the Andrid core including First Boot, Standard Boot, Lock Screen, Home Screen, Widget, App Drawer and System Fonts, Colours and Effects. Many interactions had to be done as the fine tuning of aspects like animations were critical to the products performance with the aim of producing the best android experience without impacting the quality of the HP brand at any stage, especially on a new product range. These Android powered devices had a range of hardware specifications and each experience had to be tailored and optimised accordingly. HP had a global team working on the hardware and compliance aspects so we had almost daily contact and numerous face to face meetings with HP’s senior management throughout the project. The project was run in an agile, sprint-based environment that utilised both GitHub and HipChat.