When our client Z24 obtained the rights to create a Dutch version of Business Insider, they approached us to help them merge their existing site into a rock solid platform that would not budge under the pressure of thousands of simultaneous visitors. We created a fully streamlined WordPress platform. We developed custom software to import content, as well as embedded media, from both the US and UK channels of Business Insider. And we adjusted the dashboard to fully support the newsroom’s workflow. Currently the site welcomes over 77.000 unique visitors a day, adding up to 1.6M visitors a month. The site responds to almost 200M requests and sends out close to 10 TB of data each month, without even wincing.
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Business Insider, the world’s largest business news platform, was launched in the Netherlands in 2016. Our client, owner of the Z24 business platform, appointed us to merge their Z24.nl site into a new, larger, Business Insider.nl.
Similar vision, increased reach
Z24.nl used to serve business owners and managers with a bright and striking perspective on business news. When the owners of Z24.nl had the chance to obtain the rights to a Dutch version of Business Insider, they decided to merge their existing site into the new Business Insider.nl. Both tone of voice and perspective were so much alike, that maintaining two separate channels did not make much sense. Z24.nl was known for topics like strategy, tech and finance. Other topics Business Insider is known for, like Politics and lifestyle, were added to the mix. To make news more accessible, more variety in reporting styles, short updates and appealing imagery were added.
While Business Insider will continue to feature ads, paid branded content is becoming more important. People increasingly ignore ads and use ad blockers.
To help advertisers get the most out of their advertising budget and help position them as friendly experts, Business Insider is offering them access to BI Studio. This specialized department helps them conceive, create and publish branded content that is both educational and entertaining. These advertorial style posts are labeled as created by a “partner expert”.
Z24.nl already attracted a nice crowd but for Business Insider.nl expectations were much higher. We therefore set out to create a platform that wouldn’t even cringe when facing the crowds that were expected. Our assignment was clear:
- Make sure the site keeps running at top speed, even with thousands of simultaneous visitors.
- Arrange timed imports from both Business Insider US and Business Insider UK.
- Create a dashboard that helps administrators process imported content quickly and easily.
- Structure the site in such a way that Google and other search engines can optimally index it.
- Structure pages in such a way that visitors are persuaded to stick around.
- Make sure the site design is compliant with international Business Insider branding guidelines but don’t hesitate to fine-tune for the local market.
Scrumming to succeed
We had three months to get this site up and running. To make that happen, we recommended an agile approach, using the Scrum method. Using this method helped the entire team keep focus. Daily standups with the product owner ensured we kept our priorities straight.
Along the way, we tweaked the design for improved user experience and web accessibility.
“Using the Scrum method made this journey truly pleasurable. We were of one mind quickly and major accomplishments followed right after. Back in June of 2016, right after the first meetings, I reported back to the US holding that we were planning to go live in September. That got me a few raised eyebrows. It’s outstanding that we did meet that deadline. Scrum helps everyone prioritize and focus on specific elements. That helps me, as product owner, too. Developing something as technical as this, requires you to keep prioritizing and making choices. It gives structure to a planning.”
Streamlining for speed
For Business Insider.nl, we recommended a fully streamlined and mobile responsive WordPress platform. For websites with huge amounts of visitors at the same time, every file byte and every millisecond of loading time counts.
Fine-tuning the hosting environment
To ensure quick loading times, even when using slower connections, we fine-tuned the hosting environment. As a result, the site runs smoothly, especially considering the fairly compact hosting setup.
“We have extended WordPress’ already user friendly back-end with additional features for the newsroom. The dashboard, for instance, allows administrators to structure the homepage at first glance. The order of posts, location of ads, widgets and related feeds can all be moved around freely.”
Timing content imports
To import content from both the US and the UK sites quickly and smoothly, we developed a custom API connection. Since timing is everything for news sites, this API continuously imports and releases fresh and updated content.
Supporting existing workflows
To help administrators process content quickly, we redesigned the dashboard in the back-end. It now fully supports their preferred workflows.
All content enrichments, like imagery and social media embeds are imported alongside the copy. This makes publishing translated content much easier. Newsroom staff now just needs to curate, translate, optimize and hit the publish button.
“We have created a smart API that imports content from Business Insider UK and Business Insider USA into the WordPress backend. Embedded content and attached media are imported as well. Updates in the original content automatically trigger updates to the copied content on the Dutch site. And all of this supports the newsroom workflows. A selection of the UK and US content will be translated and published in Dutch as well. Besides this international API, the API we previously created to import news from the Dutch ANP, will remain active as well. "
Both Z24.nl, Business Insider US and UK already had a substantial following in The Netherlands. People residing in the Netherlands keying in the url for the US and UK Business Insider site are now redirected to the Dutch site. They get to enjoy a nice variety of content: original Dutch content, imported content in English and content that has been translated from English to Dutch.
The art of persuasion
A media-rich dropdown menu persuades even more to click from one piece of content to another. Also, each piece of content is surrounded by related content. The magnetic titles and appealing imagery make it hard to resist the curiosity it feeds into.
Largest platform for business news
As of November 2018, Business Insider.nl informs and entertains an average of 1.6 million unique visitors a month. These numbers make the site the largest platform for business news in The Netherlands.
Serving 1.6 million unique visitors a month in the case of Business Insider.nl also means responding to close to 200M requests and sending out close to 10T of data. And this is now all possible without slowing down even a notch.
“I was astonished by how well you all partnered up with our US based developers and were able to get this platform launched so quickly. A collaboration doesn’t take shape this smoothly, and rarely happens without pointing fingers even once. The development agency in the US raved about your skillset and your dedication. I loved watching how everyone focused on accomplishing a shared goal: making this connection happen. “
Launching Business Insider.nl did not equal handing over the key to the kingdom and wishing each other best of luck. We joined forces on an ongoing basis and have continued to improve the sites performance. We have, among others, implemented several improvements to the mobile experience, including the release of an AMP version.
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