Modernising and migrating political publisher Crikey
As Australia’s most vigorously independent news publication with 20 years of fearless journalism under its belt, Crikey needed to modernise its publishing technology stack for the 21st century.
Outdated layers of technology
Crikey is one of the most respected political publishers in the Australian market, producing content online and a popular email newsletter available to paying subscribers.
Along with its unique heritage in the news world, Crikey was one of the earliest adopters of the WordPress Multisite platform, having run on it since 2008 – before it was even included in WordPress core.
Most of the site’s backend code was created in the early days of WordPress, which meant things were done differently from modern WordPress best practices.
An end-to-end migration
With their major redesign underway, Crikey engaged The Code Company to oversee the delivery of the entire project, This included the template code integration from an design agency, working with inhouse developers, the cloud migration and re-developing a number of critical editorial workflow tools.
A modern editorial workflow
When Crikey first moved to WordPress in 2008, WordPress was a basic content management system in its early stages.
In order for the website to work the way it needed, Crikey had to use a lot of manual overrides or ‘hacks’ to meet its business requirements.
One of the big goals of the 2016 relaunch was to remove all the cobwebs and rewrite custom business logic using WordPress best practices and standards.
We could then take advantage of the significant advancements in WordPress between 2008 to 2016.
“ Our existing solutions were as convoluted as our requirements — and the technology was full of loops and hacks and a zillion more queries.
The Code Company implicitly and explicitly understood our need to make things respond in a way that makes sense.”
implementing wordpress best practice
200% increases in frontend and backend performance
While Crikey’s new site was being rolled out, we reviewed the WordPress theme implementation. This ensured that the supplied HTML, CSS and JS provided by the UI agency integrated into a scalable WordPress theme.
We also made sure every aspect of the website took advantage of all the caching and performance tools available in WordPress to ensure the new site was lightening fast.
Backend load time from 1400ms to 400ms.
Average end user load time from 50 seconds to 5.
Publishing tech stack enhancements
In addition to their major website redevelopment, The Code Company worked with Crikey’s parent company Private Media on a number of projects to enhance their technology stack.
- Move to full HTTPS – we were able to resolve a wide range of outstanding, partially-implemented HTTPS issues, and manage the search engine implications for the transfer.
- Upgrade to PHP 7 – some legacy codebase would not be PHP7 compatible – this unlocked significant performance and ongoing development benefits.
- Clean user database – we developed a tool to sweep the user database, which contained hundreds of thousands of defunct, duplicate or corrupted user accounts.
- Go responsive – we moved away from the often clunky and ineffective approach of split desktop and mobile websites.
- Implement Google Ad Manager – we used our expertise in working with Doubleclick for Publishers to help transition the sales team from an old cumbersome adtech platform.
WordPress native emails
Newsletter Builder Workflow
One of the biggest member benefits is the much respected Crikey Insider newsletter.
The legacy newsletter builder predated most of WordPress’ APIs and very clunky to work with slowing down the creation of the daily newsletter.
The Code Company have extensive knowledge of publishing workflows and requirements for a newsletter builder. We custom built WordPress-native newsletter builder tool that allowed the staff to rapidly assemble the daily newsletter and send.