A quick recap of what went on behind the scenes
National Burger Day is one of biggest days of the year for Shortlist Studio. We normally receive a lot of national press, trend on Twitter, and even feature on TV. So we experience a lot of traffic, and that brings a couple of interesting challenges.
Did you know maps are really difficult to build? Calculating which venues are nearby is computationally “difficult” for a computer to do. It’s pretty much impossible to have a response “ready to go”, for an individual user, as they’re likely to be in different positions, and searching for different streets/postcodes. So every visit to the map requires a new calculations to performed. (Everyone wants the same words and images for an article - so we pre-prepare it on the server and there’s only 1 calculation every 10 minutes or so (this is the fabled “caching” we talk about)
In the past we’ve used services from Facebook (parse.com), and Google (firebase.com). This year Leo Gilmour built our own Venues service from scratch. It’s a really impressive bit of kit, fast and scaleable to the point where it’s coveted by other tech teams.
It’s called Kitchin, after a cartographer for London Magazine. All the more impressive, is that Leo built it in her first couple of months here, solving a problem we’ve struggled with for years. It worked perfectly all day yesterday - under very high load from 2000 people simultaneously at points. A real achievement and something we’re proud of as a team. It’s a great foundation to build some more interesting functionality around.
As I mentioned earlier, 2000 people on a site simultaneously is a non-trivial amount of traffic to deal with, roughly 4x the load Shortlist.com & Stylist.co.uk receive on average.
One of our more recent additions to the team, Daniel Liburd, built the National Burger Day site on our new mobile optimised platform as his first project for us. Not only does the site look great across devices - courtesy of Vivien Ilett’s design overhaul (I love the favicon and the “how does it work” illustrations), there’s neat interactive functionality in there too.
Check out Tapestry here: https://github.com/shortlist-digital/tapestry-wp
It was a great acid test for the platform, which all our sites will be deployed onto in the next couple of months - We’re pleased to report that it handled the same amount of user sessions as Shortlist.com yesterday, with aplomb.
(We also sent 38.5k thousand emails, generated on the fly, with individually tailored details for 1k restaurants)
So all in all: 📈
Thanks go to Will Bays for keeping us on track, Elliot Coad, Mathew Hawley, and Thomas Digby for contributing to the project in ways too numerous to count, and the NBD team over at Emerald Street for being a pleasure to work with (and the free beers on the day).