Not Invented Here syndrome (NIH) is the guilty pleasure that tempts engineering teams into creating bespoke approaches to problems that have already been solved. Even having your eyes opened to the temptation doesn’t immunize you from it. So, how do you know whether a bespoke solution warrants the effort or if it’s just plain hubris?
On July 1st, we activated the new Fortune.com, as well as two of their microsites, on new WordPress VIP Go hosting. While not much has visibly changed on the front end, the site has been rebuilt essentially from scratch, and will provide users and editors alike a faster, and cleaner, more reliable experience.
While Fortune.com was a strong site to begin with, there was room for improvement. There were many places in the codebase where inconsistencies had built up over time, both seen (such as different headers and footers on different pages) and unseen (front-end apps) by the average site visitor. After the property was sold to an independent owner in late 2018, they came to Alley to take a look and make a change.
After reviewing the codebases, it was clear that the site would benefit from a decoupled architecture, and the team would repurpose what they could, and rearchitect the rest. The design would remain unchanged (except for a few quick fixes), but we would build out a new headless backend, migrate all the content, and seamlessly swap to the new build without interruption in service.
The biggest part of our work was to remove or consolidate the majority of front- and back-end applications that were redundant, unused, broken, or not needed for some other reason. This massive effort simplified the code drastically, speeding up the site and allowing for easier maintenance down the road. All the code is now in one place, organized and detailed. No one person or team really understood the codebase from top to bottom, but now that’s a much less daunting task. Finally, on the editorial side, the interface is also cleaned up and made simpler to engage with and understand. Fortune is now taking a Gutenberg-first approach to their editorial strategy. As the WordPress open source community continues to grow Gutenberg and improve on the block editor, editorial will continue to reap these benefits for years to come.
The new site is built in our open-source framework for headless WordPress, codenamed Irving. Throughout this project, we were able to make many incremental improvements and add new features to the framework, such as asynchronous data loading, which will benefit future users, whatever they are working on. Fortune’s back-end is hosted on Automattic’s streamlined VIP Go platform, and the front-end is hosted on their Node.js offering.
But we aren’t the only ones excited about the launch! We’ve already seen a 60+% drop in load speeds and a 12% drop in bounce rate in just the first few days, so it seems like the users are in to the changes. And, the Fortune team says “We walked through fire to rebuild our websites, and we couldn’t be happier that Alley was by our side. The team found creative solutions to our problems and hit its marks every time.” We can’t wait to watch Fortune grow even stronger in the future. Check out the new site at fortune.com!