This was a large scale brochureware website that I was the sole developer on while at Plug & Play. While it was a standard, responsive website, it had some unique challenges, namely: it’s large number of visitors and huge amounts of legacy data.

Performance Considerations

Because of the large number of visitors performance was of particular importance. Various extra measures were taken in order to maximise performance:

  • Third party libraries were used sparingly to minmise the size of files
  • Lazy loading all images below the fold
  • The static html outputted from each page was cached and outputted to avoid database requests. When an article or page was edited only its cache was busted
  • All images were cached behind a content delivery network (CDN) and were dynamically minified (losslessly) when uploaded in the backend

Performance metrics were taken of their old site and compared with the new site which showed a significant performance increase

Data Migration

The other challenge was in migrating all their content across and integrating it with the new design – including on mobile, when their previous site wasn’t responsive.

My idea was to have two “rounds” of migration, the first would happen at the beginning of development, this allowed me to work with a copy of live data from the outset. This ensures any issues with particular articles or pages could be raised as early as possible and a solution agreed. The second round of migration would happen a day or so before go live, this way no data would be lost and disruption to their old live site would be kept to a minimum.

Because there were multiple rounds of migration and the quantity of data so vast, I opted to create a bash script that would perform the entire migration locally, saving lots of time and a few tears!

Result

The client was very pleased with the end result and their staff praised the ease of adding articles and pages compared to their old system.

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