What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
Despite our extremely high traffic, we haven’t had any outages. In one case, we had an article go viral in India and our visitor stream shot up from 5,000–6,000 to 27,000 within in a few minutes. Traffic stayed that high for a couple of hours but we had no hiccups or downtime. It’s a testament to the kind of infrastructure and performance tools Human Made has built for us.
From an internal standpoint, they’ve also sped up our production process. We’re able to respond to changing consumer needs, convert ideas into product development, and push code out much more quickly than in the past. Human Made’s created an environment that’s empowered us to set our own pace and it’s allowed us to broaden our vision for future development.
How did Human Made perform from a project management standpoint?
Typically, we’ll hand them pieces of work on a project we’re managing in-house. We have a private Slack channel that we use to communicate with them regarding our product development roadmap; it’s also how we send code for review. They always exceed our expectations, even if we haven’t given the clearest instruction at the outset of a task.
What did you find most impressive about them?
They’re at the cutting edge of WordPress development. Whenever we want answers, solutions, or new build ideas, they know how to provide them. Their team are active participants at WordCamp and they’ve led the charge on helping Automattic roll out their WordPress API. They have the deep technical understanding of the platform that we need in order to keep innovating and elevating our business.
As one example, there was a point when we were kicking around an idea we wanted to implement and we spoke to Joe, their CTO, about whether or not it was possible and how difficult it might be. He emailed me 150 lines of PHP the next day, saying we could use that as a base and that the problem wouldn’t be that hard to solve. Our internal team picked up the code and we eventually pinged one of his developers to finish up the project. We really appreciate how often they over-deliver.
Are there any areas they could improve?
Since we’re so big, they’re actively working on implementing tools for managing our account. These aren’t must-haves or failings. As their business grows and they become more sophisticated, I hope they’ll give us better tools and insights into the performance of our stack, among other things.
Their other issue is learning to balance our expectations with what a typical client needs. There are some really advanced tools and resources we’ve asked for, that they just didn’t have readily available, although they helped us obtain them from elsewhere. I expect that this is on their roadmap and will change as they get additional large enterprise clients.
Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?
Respect their expertise, but also make an effort to learn more about the WordPress platform and how it’s meant to be used. We found many things that hadn’t been implemented correctly in the past and, while Human Made has fixed some of them, it was too costly upfront to address them all.
Looking back at our own migration, we should’ve been more aware of the information architecture for our existing site, as well as what our future ambitions were. We didn’t communicate that to Human Made as effectively as we could have in advance. Any client migrating their website should make sure to be transparent with Human Made about where they want the information to be migrated and what they want the future of their content management to be. This might avoid our problem of inheriting or carrying over technical debt.