The newest addition to the Design Menace family is a company I have followed since I stomped around the North Shore of Boston. Barstool Sports is a Boston based company, who’s reach has spread into New York City as well. It’s 30 Million plus page views a month warrants it to be load balanced over 4 servers, have a CDN (Content Delivery Network), and utilize a Varnish caching system, to handle all the millions of eye balls taking in the riskè content each month.
The objective of the new build was to have easier access to Social Media, as well as, to be able to quickly create new Regions, like what already existed with NYC.
At the time, creating a new region proved to be somewhat challenging because of the way it was setup. Meaning…there were multiple installs of WordPress for each region. So, Boston had it’s own, and NYC had it’s own, and so on. On top of this, it was sitting on a version of WordPress with known exploits, and was very outdated. Also, the way the code was structured was slowing down the page load significantly, and the CDN was not being used to it’s full potential.
So, I did a bunch of research and in the end the solution I found was to move to the new WordPress 3.0, and activate the Multi-Site feature. This, paired with a new and improved theme, along with a few custom Plugins, has given Barstool the ability to build regions in a matter of minutes rather than days. Fixing the social media “problem” was just a matter of implementing the proper code into the template so that viewers could share stories.
On the back-end, I did create a new Plugin that enables you to be able to automatically publish stories to Facebook and Twitter (and soon Digg if they ever get off their arses.) Why create one, there are several out there, you ask? Plain and simple…because they didn’t fulfill my client’s expectations. Anyway, it has all come together nicely.
Re-launching a site that gets over 30 Million page views a month, has over 2 Million database entries, hundreds of thousands of photos, and 400 people signing up daily, is a challenge no matter how you look at it. Especially when you have to combine 2 old builds of WordPress, into one new build, and re-populate a new database from multiple sources. So, inevitably, I had to take the site down late Friday evening for several hours while I transferred all of the information, and brought it back up live in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Yes, there were a few hitches along the way, but as always that is to be expected. All in all, it went very smoothly.
What I Learned
I’m not going to lie…to date this is the “biggest” site I have ever handled. Sure, I had read about large sites and scaling them upward (Building Scalable Web Sites: Building, Scaling, and Optimizing the Next Generation of Web Applications by Cal Henderson is amazing), but getting your hands dirty is always the tough part. No one wants to trust you. Bottom line there are three things that made this possible.
- Doing my Research.
- Have a good support crew (Hosting company and colleagues).
- Test your launch process for a few weeks.
I will go into detail more on this in a future post. Overall, this was a huge success and I couldn’t be happier with the result.