9 Years of Managing The New Stack
Over the weekend, The New Stack turned nine. And the requirements to keep the site maintained continue from that day on April 29, 2014.
Day two came fast. Today, writers and editors have contributed more than 11,700 stories. We knew from the start that this little site we created needed our attention and lots of it. There would be lots of posts, contributors, new features, etc.
The New Stack is similar to teams that develop, deploy and manage at-scale technologies. We wrestle with a monolith, have had to modernize legacy architectures, and must continue adopting new technologies to keep our edge today. Yes, we are experimenting with Generative AI.
We looked at developing a static site for The New Stack in 2014 but opted for WordPress. A static site would have allowed us to update The New Stack through git. But it would have meant educating our writers and editors in a way that would not have been scalable. WordPress made sense for us and still does. We’ve been quite pleased with WordPress as a content management system. It’s a workhorse and can easily manage contributors. We have more than 2,200 people who have written for the site.
We built The New Stack’s business on a sponsor model. From those first days, it became apparent that we needed a way to measure attention in a way that Google Analytics did not provide. But instead of using a data analytics tool from an established vendor, we decided to build our own. It worked well for a while. It allowed us to scale the number of sponsors we could serve. We do not have to dive into Google Analytics and pull out data for a sponsor. The homegrown platform showed us we could prepare reports for sponsors to review results.
Our challenge came with adding new reports and making them self-serve for users. We now use Looker, a data analytics platform that allows our sponsors to see their analytics on a self-serve basis.
The dev teams say we maintained the old WordPress template for years before developing the new one from the ground up last year. We tried eliminating most of the WordPress technical debt during our site redesign but carried over plug-ins and other things unrelated to the code.
Our general philosophy is “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” And that philosophy guided us to continue with WordPress as a platform for the next growth phase. We try to gradually pay down the remaining technical debt, as it is a balancing act against business priorities. Most importantly, we try not to add to the existing technical debt by implementing short-term solutions that will need rewriting in the future.
The developer team keeps us honest. They question feature requests and focus on automation.
We store all our images using Google Cloud Storage. Images get cached with Cloudflare, the CDN. The site’s redesign launched last fall, and the most notable optimization came with it. We cut almost 60% off our load times in the past year and doubled the site’s speed.
So, here’s to another year of development, deployment, and management of The New Stack. But even more, here’s to another year of writing about the scaled-out technologies developers, engineers, and operations groups build daily.