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USA Today

We improved performance, user experience and content distribution for the most widely circulated print newspaper in the USA.

USATODAY.com is an award-winning news and information website. We joined their in-house development team to provide ongoing development and consultancy for parts of their USATODAY.com Sports sites running on WordPress.

USATODAY.com runs multiple sub-sites in its Sports section; each site runs its own plugins, each with its own unique settings page. The in-house development team created a new user interface with each new plugin, so authors had to re-familiarise themselves with a new UI each time. To streamline workflows for both developers and authors, we extended the WordPress Fieldmanager plugin creating a clean workspace, and ensuring that every new plugin retained the same admin interface.

 

USA Today

One of the more challenging aspects of this project was updating USATODAY.com’s legacy codebase to meet current WordPress coding standards and improve extensibility. We refactored sections of their code, removing duplicate functions and facilitating future development by providing a clear structure for developers to work with. They had a continuous integration test in place which put each pull request through a vigorous sweep of test before it was merged. To increase code coverage, we enabled the test against more of the codebase.

USATODAY.com Sports wanted to push their content to new and emerging platforms, delivering news and information to a wider audience. We built integrations to automatically distribute content to Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. To deliver content to Facebook Instant Articles we extended the Simple Instant Articles plugin, building custom implementations to format embeds consistently using a custom markup language. The Apple News integration, which was also built from an existing plugin, pushed a JSON pack containing all the content and assets required for the post.

To engage their readers directly on the site, USATODAY.com Sports built the online equivalent of a social game they ran in their print version. The custom platform was originally written in PHP, which we then re-wrote in JavaScript enabling us to use WordPress.com VIP caching for the initial page load. The platform is used across all of USA TODAY products, and data is pulled in through an API and displayed in JavaScript. The bracket page itself is built on WordPress, which enables USATODAY.com Sports to keep the same admin menu.