Web Site Maintenance For The Register

The Register is the UK's most-visited IT news site (frequently around 3/4 million page impressions a day) and amongst the world's most influential.

GBdirect maintain The Register website, providing the following services:

The system was originally designed and installed by a company which no longer trades.

GBdirect were, nevertheless, able to take over and extend the site's capabilities without access to documentation or transitional support (e.g. we didn't even have the Superuser/Root password to one server and a lot of archeology went into finding out where different parts of the system were actually located).

The scale of this task may be put into perspective by considering the fact that only one of our people does the job at a time, and the fact that none of them has ever seen the machines they manage (all our work on the site's London-based machines is done from Yorkshire by remote control and a good part of it is done through automated scripts).

We would like to think that our success in managing a seamless transition was entirely attributable to our own highly developed software skills, but some of the credit must go to our predecessors for choosing to implement the site in open source software and the Perl programming language, i.e. tools which are easier to interrogate and adapt than closed (proprietary) equivalents.

Our developers can, however, take all of the credit for patching and fixing some pretty creaky parts of the infrastructure whilst adding new and commercially valuable functions to it, e.g. ABC auditing of visitor statistics, sponsored sections, etc.

We believe the Register provides an excellent case study of how real-world commercial web sites ought to be maintained.

From a site visitor's perspective, the software infrastructure has never failed since we have been responsible for it, despite ever increasing traffic and commercial functionality.

From an advertiser's point of view, fully audited traffic statistics can now be accessed and a whole new range of advertising formats can now be placed on the site in real time.

From the journalist's point of view, the site's performance has increased by an order of magnitude, e.g. news updates on the system we inherited took around one hour, they now take about 15 seconds. We like to think that improving performance by 240 times constitutes pretty good value from a mere maintenance contract.

The Register's owners and managers also get a whole range of direct support services which only a maintenance contract of this kind can bring.

Most importantly, our response to Register requests is instant, complete and exclusive, i.e. when they call us with a request for changes to the site they get immediate and complete changes to it.

They never have to wait for time or staff to be scheduled to a job, because they have direct and exclusive control over the priorities of our maintenance staff.

In addition to this direct control over our skills and resources The Register, and any other maintenance customer, also has free access to our other consultants' specialist skills and advice.

In emergencies, we can deploy whole teams of specialists who are used to working together under pressure.

In more mundane circumstances, our maintainers simply have immediate and cost-free access to specialist consultancy across a wide range of relevant fields (e.g. specialisms as diverse as operating system device drivers and search engine ranking techniques).

If your company has a site which is valuable enough to have it maintained by professional specialists, why not contact our developers to discuss the services we offer?

Even if you want to keep your maintenance in-house, you may want to talk to them about our consultants' "webtherapy" services, i.e. a whole family of techniques and tricks for increasing your website's visibility, usability and commercial effectiveness.