The high-speed future of Epicurious
By Guy Ellis

The client

Epicurious is the go-to site for serious foodies. Part of the prestigious Condé Nast media group, it offers recipes and expert advice from the world’s top chefs and A-list celebrities. It has a highly active visitor base, with 9.1 million unique visitors per month and 5.3 million followers on social media. Epicurious has won numerous awards and has cemented its reputation as a strong digital voice in the world of food.

The brief

Condé Nast wanted to migrate Epicurious to a system that would be fast and agile enough to deliver a great visitor experience. The goal was to develop a system that would be easy to maintain, future proofed and simplify the user experience. The time frame was a tight 13 weeks, with a go-live date at the end of January 2015. 100% uptime was expected while the system was being built, and it was critical that visitors to the site wouldn’t perceive any change to the website’s performance during that time.

The challenges

nearForm needed to do a complete transformation of the client’s system within 13 weeks. During that time, it was essential to maintain the quality of the user experience. Implementing the new system in line with Condé Nast’s core technical processes was also vital to the success of the project.

The solution

nearForm completely redesigned the system, especially the database and the functionality for managing user accounts. Under guidance from nearForm architects, Condé Nast chose to make the switch from Ruby on Rails to Node.js. nearForm’s developers took the existing database and rewrote the API so that it replicated the existing functionality. This helped to make the handover as smooth as possible.

The structure of the project followed ‘the nearForm way’. This combines the expertise of strong developers, the advantages of open source software tools, and a strong understanding of customer requirements to deliver above and beyond expectations. The nearForm team worked closely with the builders of the previous system and organised a weekly demo for the Condé Nast team, so the client was always up to speed with the changes to the system. The demos also made it easy to identify deviations to the client’s system and remedy them straight away.

The result

The project team achieved the goal of 100% uptime during the system build, with no disruption to user experience. nearForm was ready to press the red button on the new system a week ahead of schedule. The previous system was switched off and the new system went live with full user functionality from the moment it launched.

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