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 :: MCN Website

Whilst working for BuzzMyVideos, a leading MCN, founded by two YouTube executives I was required to completely rebuild their public facing website from scratch. The new site is WordPress based and in addition involved setting up a git repository and a staging and production site. A badly written premium theme was purchased (always good to allow a dev to view the code before purchasing :)) so in addition to setting up the theme I had to rewrite a mass of css and js to make it perform correctly. Custom post types for jobs were introduced and the legacy business logic was removed.

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.

Ibiza Delivers :: Magento-based SuperMarket / Delivery Site

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 was responsible for the UX, the UI, the Design, the functional and technical specifications and the management of the development of a range of custom Magento extensions modules.

Prana Wellbeing :: WordPress Website

Prana Wellbeing is one of Londons top Health and Wellbeing centers offering a range of services including Yoga, Pilates, Physiotherapy and Nutrition. I was asked to evaluate and then rebuild their existing WordPress based site. The work involved unpicking the legacy code and rebuilding a multisite-enabled platform allowing each part of their business to function with autonomy whilst allowing management to access all key areas. The site was based on Bootstrap 3 and the work also included some custom plugin development.

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.

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.

Momondo :: Website Performance and UX Optimisation

I was contracted as a consultant to assist Momondo, one of the leading online travel websites, to access and improve the user experience of their PPC, SEO optimised website that was based on WordPress. The majority of the challenges faced were orientated around the high traffic loads that the site was experiencing (in excess of 200,000 visitors per day) and a over-reliant, inefficient use of plugins. I was responsible for porting the site to a staging environment, fine tuning elements of the theme, upgrading and improving plugins performance and creating minified content, optimising caching for pages, the database and objects and making numerous recommendations on improving the site for users. I was also responsible for tailoring the work flow and administration screens to be more company centric.

Ellas Kitchen :: Global Website, Email and eCRM Platform

Ellas Kitchen, a Billington Cartmell client, is one of the worlds leading organic baby food manufacturers and i was responsible for the build and roll out of a new eCRM platform that consisted of a multi-site WordPress-based platform for websites with email, Facebook and customer service functionality built in.

Global Website Platform with Localised Sites

The website was designed on the clients request to emulate the cartoon look and feel of the brand including ‘wiggly borders’ on all assets. The site was a full rebuild mainly in PHP and HTML5 with the odd flash asset for selected animation. Full localisation for European territories, America and Australia is possible and further territories could be added at will. All content and functional modules could be seamlessly deployed between territories creating both content aggregation, convenience and economies of scale. Customer details were also stored centrally and a Single Customer view was achieved that proves invaluable in email marketing and intelligent design and communication. eCommerce was the most recent addition to the platform enabling all their products to be purchased and their inventory to be managed centrally.

Email Marketing

Part of the eCRM Platform was the ability for the client to login and create targeted email campaigns at will from editable templates that we had designed for them. Using Campaign Monitors API we seamlessly connected the global customer view from the websites and Facebook apps into a filterable mail list enabling detailed user segmentation for the creation and serving of highly targeted messaging.

Facebook Apps

The final significant piece to the Ellas Kitchen eCRM platform was the Facebook App management technology that we encoded within the environment and ran off a multi-site SSL. This enabled Facebook Apps to be deployed as easily as a new site, containing all the predefined generic functionality that apps require like like-gates, accepting permissions, sharing, identifying top ten friends, storing user data etc. The only ‘work’ that needed doing was the creative and content layer to sit on top.

To find out more about the Facebook Apps I technically directed for Ellas Kitchen please click here.