IFLScience are "here for the science - the funny side of science." An internet phenomenon, they offer a wide range of scientific articles, quotes, jokes, memes and more. IFLS started as a Facebook page back in 2012, set up by Elise Andrew whilst she was still studying at University. Four years later and its growth is unparalleled - nearly 25 million Facebook fans and an eye watering 660 million all time unique website visitors, totalling nearly 2.9 billion page views.
In its current guise since 2013, the accompanying website for the IFLS Facebook page was feeling dated and tired. Design trends change on yearly basis and the possibilities of what a website can do even more frequently. The current website wasn't doing the IFLS justice.
The website needed to modernised with a sleek, new, fully responsive design, a bespoke admin area away from the open source Drupal system that it was using before and a range of new features and workflow improvements to make it easier than ever for the editorial stuff to write and publish their articles.
As the majority of the traffic to the website is generated from Facebook posts, the users read the article and leave resulting in a high bounce rate. Part of the brief was to include other interesting and related stories to retain users.
The new website was built from the ground up, using the Symfony framework to provide a solid foundation to work from.
The admin area was completely rewritten as a bespoke system, specifically designed to cater for the needs of the IFLS editorial team. It was built to work with the internal editorial processes and provide ease of use for their everyday tasks, which are primarily focused around writing, editing, moderating and publishing articles.
The front end of the site was given a slick, modern design, making use of bright colours, large images and easy to read text. Both the site and the admin area are also fully responsive, meaning that visitors can view the site and editors can manage it on the go.
One thing missing from the old site was the human factor, so more detailed author profiles were also added including pictures, a short bio and other information such as how many articles each author has written and how long they've been with the company. This helps make them feel more personable and shows visitors that articles are written by real people, rather than a faceless organisation.
To rise to the bounce rate challenge, multiple new features have now been added that take advantage of highest page views and social media shares, trending and popular stories, to name a few.
There were a number of challenges along the way which had to be dealt with.
The site's traffic is huge with over 100 Million page views per month. The server infrastructure needed to cater for over 100,000 concurrent page views, a standard dedicated or cloud server would fall over with these figures. Working closely with our colleagues at GlobalizeMe we designed a cloud based solution with Amazon AWS that scales up servers and kills them off when not needed. By using some advanced caching techniques and serving up static files to users, we are able to ensure that the site is quick to load and easy to use.
IFLS as a company uses advertising as a major revenue generator. The addition, configuration and testing of the numerous adverts on the site provided a number of challenges, particularly with them coming from various different providers and given that they needed to be integrated dynamically into a system serving static files. Getting this working well was a new experience for the team at Ansta, but one that will no doubt prove invaluable for future projects.
The final result is a website that both IFLScience and Ansta are delighted with. As far as functionality and user workflow is concerned, the enhancements made to the new system should help the editorial team at IFLS work more efficiently and effectively, allowing them to publish more top quality science stories than ever before.
Website visitors should have a much more pleasant experience too, courtesy of the new design, which gives the organisation a fresh new look and feel. Navigating around the site - whether on desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile is easier than ever and provides a great user experience.
There will be future phases to this development with an exciting number of new features in the pipeline, meaning that the site will continue to improve and provide an even better experience. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable project for Ansta to be a part of and we look forward to continuing to work closely with IFLScience in the future.
Elise Andrew the CEO of IFLScience commented 'Ansta have a full grasp of our specific needs and understand the challenges we face. Our previous site served us well but the growth in our editorial department required a custom solution to streamline our processes. Our traffic is also unique, the infrastructure Ansta have implemented is extremely stable and can cater for the traffic spikes we generate. One goal with the new site was to decrease the bounce rate and with the new features already in the first week we have seen a marked improvement.
We are extremely pleased with the design, build, training and hassle free go live with no downtime of our website.'
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