Building a single enterprise-level solution
IDG’s portfolio of brands spans digital, video, events and print in 97 countries – some of its best known publications include Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive, which have millions of readers worldwide.
The global publisher appointed Big Bite in 2020 to rebuild and relaunch one of its biggest publications, Macworld, as well as also helping it improve on scalability, efficiency and production speed across multiple publications, which led to the development of a single enterprise-level solution powered by WordPress and built using Gutenberg.
Centralised content hub
The key objective of the project was to enable IDG to consolidate its global network of sites from across a range of CMS systems over to one central platform. This would not only simplify syndication between its many publications, which was a core requirement, but would also facilitate increased collaboration between IDG’s globally-dispersed editorial teams.
With approximately 100 sites to contend with, and Macworld.com alone having 85,000 posts, this was no mean feat, and we quickly decided that a multisite approach would be insufficient to handle the sheer size and volume of content as adding more database tables to an already large instance would likely cause significant performance issues.
To deliver an optimum solution, we developed a global content hub and extended WordPress to allow admins to register and authenticate child sites on different WordPress instances within the hub. This allows content and media to be published and syndicated from one instance to the other. The approach has proved to be very successful, with the content hub architecture massively reducing strain on infrastructure and enabling child sites for publications to be much smaller, lighter and more manageable as a result.
User-first multimedia library
To enable IDG to efficiently share a wide variety of media content across its many publications, we also developed a custom media library with a React-based UI instead of using the existing media library within WordPress. The custom solution can more effectively manage a much wider range of media types, including images and video, and IDG’s editorial teams now benefit from a user-first interface that enables them to more easily find relevant media assets through powerful search and filtering functionality. It also enables users to modify additional meta info where required.
As well as supporting a custom workflow and the specific media properties required by IDG, the media library has helped the enterprise organisation to speed up its publishing process, bringing together a vast amount of media assets all in one place.
Optimised ads and analytics
As for many publishers, digital advertising is an important revenue stream for IDG, particularly on Macworld which attracts Apple fans from around the globe, and so the enterprise organisation had a very specific set of requirements for advertising and analytics. In addition, the organisation’s advertising teams must be able to continuously monitor and adjust live adverts to optimise results.
We met these needs by building tight integrations between the IDG content hub and a number of analytics and ad-tech tools from multiple sources, with complex front-end behaviours to optimise engagement. We also implemented admin panel settings to enable advertising teams to easily control ad slot appearance, ad sizes, refresh rates and other custom behaviours designed to maximise revenue while remaining compliant with advertising guidelines.
Consolidation, speed and efficiency
The new content hub architecture combined with custom functionality provides a strong base to iterate on, enabling IDG to steadily consolidate all of its sites from multiple CMSs and technology stacks onto the WordPress platform. We helped the organisation to launch its redesigned Macworld.com, one of the largest sites in its network, in March 2021 – you can read more about the project here.
As well as achieving the overarching goal of the project, we’ve retained IDG’s complex workflows and features while successfully transferring the organisation over to a new environment with minimum disruption throughout the migration process.
The result is a significantly improved content publishing experience that enables increased speed, efficiency and collaboration for multiple global teams, with the added flexibility of block-based editing.