TechForge is an independent publisher with a digital portfolio of technology news sites. Boasting over 3.3-million readers and 15 brands, the UK-based company publishes a range of thought-leadership content to industry professionals and other niche audiences.
TechForge were managing seven large Django-based websites and two WordPress websites. They liked the flexibility of WordPress and needed to standardise web development and editorial workflow across all websites for their small team of professionals.
Previously their development team would custom build their websites and CMS functionality using Django’s Python-based framework, meaning code would need to be written when feature updates were required – driving up operational costs and hampering editorial workflow.
“We had to use an external contractor to make design and dev changes to these sites as they were built in with Django,” said Steve Jones, TechForge’s head of design and development. “As a result they were neglected and became slow and dated visually.”
Migrating to an off-the-shelf WordPress CMS and plugin framework would give the Techforge editorial team more agility to add functionality in a modular fashion, simplify workflow while avoiding vendor lock-in.
We decided to develop a modern and standardised WordPress Gutenberg theme and supporting plugins to replace the seven Django websites and two existing WordPress websites. We needed to move all websites into a WordPress multisite environment for easier plugin updates and optimisation of hosting resources.
Extracting Techforge’s website data out of the Django solution would prove to be a challenge for the Publisher’s Toolbox team. The development of an API for migration was not viable, with only a bulk JSON extract of website data available.
We developed a configurable and repeatable editorial import process for JSON data extracts by leveraging market-leading AWS cloud infrastructure. We then set up a pre-production environment that mirrors live content, making go-live a straightforward switch. The import process would parse the complete JSON data extracts with linked images – and incorporate the necessary data structure into our WordPress multisite.
Due to the large amounts of data involved and snapshot nature of the extract, it proved a challenge to import high-quality data in a short space of time. We took an iterative approach to checking the data for quality, reimporting affected data when issues were found.
We developed a strategy to detect changes in the JSON extracts by making use of Amazon’s Simple Storage Service – so that only changes to the data needed to be processed. This radically improved content synchronisation times and ensured the go-live process for editorial users was easier to manage.
Once we had a reliable mechanism for importing the content into our WordPress environment, we set out to develop a modern theme to manage the needs of the TechForge group websites. This theme would support Gutengurg blocks for flexible and intuitive post and page layouts, ensuring the websites remain relevant for longer while better supporting future WordPress framework updates.
The customised content needs of TechForge’s authors and contributors was incorporated. The phone and tablet screen resolutions were fully catered for in the design to ensure a seamless mobile experience. A diverse inventory of ad slots was incorporated into the different page templates to ensure stronger monetisation opportunities.
THE TECHFORGE WEBSITE PORTFOLIO
The editorial workflows for TechForge’s group websites were standardised into a modern WordPress Gutenberg environment. Once a reliable import mechanism was in place, the release process for each website was simplified. This was done by creating pre-production environments and synchronising any updated content. This empowered the client to review the solution as it would be in production, and go-live when they were ready.
“We had regular check-ins to monitor progress and they were very responsive to any questions or changes that we needed to make,” said Jones. “Publisher’s Toolbox has been really helpful making sure I’m up to speed to take over management of the sites.
“I’m really happy with the new design of the sites they seem to be running a lot more quickly and smoothly than before.”
Are you frustrated with the lack of flexibility and cost of maintaining your content-rich website. The Publisher’s Toolbox team of WordPress specialists are standing by to assist.
Contact us at [email protected] and one of our account managers will be in touch to see how we can assist you.