UX Design & Custom WordPress Development
Completely overhauling a subscription-based, multi-channel digital media platform with a brand new user experience
ImpactAlpha is a team of hundreds of industry professionals working to redefine business journalism around social and environmental value. The brand serves over 70,000 professionals and influencers; yet their website could barely serve a page in less than 10 seconds. I worked alongside the team to completely overhaul their old website - designing, building and carefully migrating to a brand new web application architecture; exponentially improving site performance, user experience and platform management.Preview in a New Window
When I was approached by ImpactAlpha in late 2020 to review their old website and see where we could make improvements, I quickly discovered that their old WordPress website was hacked together with over 40 outdated plugins, and now they had grown to the point where it couldn't support their business. They had 70,000 members trying to access thousands of content items, wherein the application would serve a page after about 10-15 seconds, if it didn't timeout trying to do so.
After an exhaustive review, I worked alongside the management team to scope out the process by which we'd not only rebuild the entire application from the ground-up, but in the process we identified a need to also overhaul the user experience, and design a new website that better promotes the high-quality content they publish every day.
I started with 2-3 weeks of UX design concepts, going back and forth on different approaches and how the user state may vary based on whether a user was logged in or not, or whether they were a paying subscriber or not. Elements that were designed within Adobe XD include not only page designs and states, but interactive elements such as hoverable cards, scrollable feeds, and social-media sharing functionality that went one step above your typical news outlet.
With UX locked in place, we moved into the second biggest hurdle, recreating the entire application from scratch. It was built upon WordPress as a completely custom theme, featuring a HTML5/CSS3 (SCSS) base and well-organized, modular code. A lot of custom logic went into place to clean data up and to migrate away from old plugins, while also integrating deeply with their user management and payment processing portal, Piano. On the back-end, process and marketing automation work went into place to make managing the whole application a breeze; hoping saving the writing staff a few late nights in the process.
After an extensive round of Q/A, we moved to migrate to a new hosting environment (WPEngine) and to migrate thousands of posts, authors, and other types of data into the improved data structure. After implementing application-level best practices for performance, optimizing for CDN delivery, and working to configure CloudFlare for DNS-level improvements, we saw the average response time drop from 10-15 seconds down to less than 200ms per page. The entire website, despite now being media-heavy, feels snappy and quick no matter how deep you dive into their content. Within 2 weeks of launch, we saw over 2M hits to the website, with no slowdown whatsoever, and over 80% of the content being delivered from cached edge points.
With the new website in place ImpactAlpha has been empowered to take bigger steps towards growth and user acquisition, and their users get a much better experience when accessing subscriber content. With several next phase improvements in the works, and marketing campaigns to drive traffic and engagement, they're fully setup for success with the new ImpactAlpha.com.
"Thanks Simon, this is wonderful! It's fast and seems to be performing well. We love the way this is headed and really appreciate you going above and beyond to make this happen.”
Director of Operations @ ImpactAlpha
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