Grounded for Enhancements

Aug 24 2012

When you’re Southwest Airlines and you’re running one of the most recognized and awarded corporate blogs, you take your website performance and updates seriously. As the main portal for news and culture, Southwest wanted to make sure their users were getting the best experience from their website. For RD2, this meant not only taking a microscopic look at the website and it’s servers, but also tweaking the design and layout functionality to improve the websites usability.

On the front-facing side of the website, RD2 added new endless scroll functionality to the website so that users don’t have to click to get to more content, updated and re-engineered the log in process to make it smoother and easier to connect your Blog Southwest account to other accounts like Facebook, and upgraded the social streams to give users new ways to connect and engage.

Behind the curtain, RD2 worked heavily to test and optimize the website to deliver content to the user faster than ever before. While a site like this runs on a custom-built server, RD2 took things several steps farther, utilizing multiple rounds of content compression, virtual and real-time caches, and a host of server level customization tweaks that now allow the website to support a new level of concurrent users. When load testing the SWA Employee Blog with similar server configurations, it was able to support enough virtual traffic to warrant a direct call from the hosting company to complain about an unprecedented slowdown across their entire network.

Below is a full list of the enhancements.

Note: As part of the new RD2 initiative to create our new framework, we are integrating many of the tips, tweaks, and magic spells that were learned into our standard operating procedure.

Enhancements:

  • Implemented infinite scrolling on blog roll & comments
  • Turn off anonymous commenting
  • Updated and styled Facebook Connect
  • LUV Mail & SWA Star of the Month (read the LUV Mail post)
  • Commenting: Set order Newest to Oldest
  • Implemented “Featured Comments” and “LUV it” on Comments
  • Add Foodspotting, Instagram, and Pinterest to the “More Ways To Go Nuts” global feature
  • Removed Gowallas links and/or references from the “More Ways To Go Nuts” global feature and from within the user profile feature “Connect with Me”
  • Reduce Social Stream Spamming
  • Add Google+ to sharing

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