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/  

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.

T-Mobile :: Androids Launch in the UK

Whilst at Saatchi and Saatchi I was responsible for technically overseeing the launch of the Android platform in the UK for TMobile. Items included the creation of the UK’s first Android game, an AS3 Flash micro site and a wealth of online advertising for the UK launch of the G1 Phone from Google (the UKs first Android phone). The G1 Mapping Game / Engine utilised the new Open Source mobile Android operating system and could be played on the phone or downloaded as a Open Source SDK from T-Mobile to assist developers to develop new, map-based games. The AS3 site also included a game with full database driven scoring and viral functionality. Throughout both projects I had to liaise regularly with Google, their business and technical contacts and the our games developers. In addition to this, I also managed a series of multi-lingual rich-media banner campaigns including one for the launch of the new G1 Phone from Google and assisted in the procurement of suitable external companies to work on a new dance-based avatar’ campaign.

The G1 Mapping Game – The UKs first Android Game

The G1 Website

The G1 Banner

Dance Off

Double Your Credit Campaign Website

Double Your Credit Campaign Banners

Thomas Cook :: Technical Direction for broadband/ video travel site

thomas-cook-inspires-3 It was my responsibility to manage, plan, develop and implement a ‘revolutionary’ video-based travel website, specifically for broadband, for their client, Thomas Cook. The site featured detailed holiday searches that provided video-based content for all countries, resorts and hotels on their database. Another feature was the ability to send any of these videos directly to your mobile, you PC, Mac or even iPod. Developed in Flash, with a JavaScript powered Windows Media overlay for the video content, I also oversaw the development of the Java backend and its’ bespoke CMS that provide the site with XML based API’s, liaising daily with the third party providers on all areas like, video streaming, mobile delivery, tracking as well as attending numerous project and planning meetings with the Thomas Cook management.

Microsoft :: Technical Consultant

The Digital Curriculum (including the now defunct BBC Jam) provided e-learning for all schools in the UK. It delivers high quality video, audio and interactive educational content over the Web. I was employed as part of the IM Group, to work as a consultant for Microsoft (and whilst there, Hewlett Packard). I advised and instructed the project managers on the best way to implement a Flash GUI throughout the Digital Curriculum. I was also responsible for developing a range of Flash/JavaScript API’s in ActionScript 2 for integrating the projects Web Services for use by all content providers.