Delivering Days Out With The Kids

Find out how our health check works and how it helped the UK's biggest website for family attractions improve the user experience for content editors and users.

One of our Umbraco Health Check clients is Day Out With The Kids. 

Their website gives families ideas for days out in the UK, with thousands of activities and attractions to get involved in. It's not surprising that it attracts over 26 million visitors annually. 

The challenge. 

The backoffice was sluggish. During peak traffic times, editors could not publish content, and the front end would grind to a halt when they could finally publish! Frustrating for editors and parents of bored kids.

They came to us for a Health Check to find out exactly what was happening. 

What is our Umbraco Health Check?

Our Health Check is a thorough, easy-to-understand document that outlines every existing (or potential problem) your Umbraco website is facing.

We create the report using a balance of clever automations and real human insight from Cogworks Certified Umbraco Masters (a fancy word for Developers who know their stuff on Umbraco). 

Though every client's report will vary in length, they're always divided into three groups:  

1) Imperative

2) Important
 
3) Recommended 

Day Out With the Kids: Health Check results.

For Day Out with the Kids (DOWTKs), their report was a 26-page document that revealed several minor issues, but the major problem pointed to the configuration of the load-balanced environment! 

DOWTKs Health Check transformation.

From their results, Cogworks recommended they Migrate to the cloud; Microsoft Azure. With DOWTKs on board, our Umbraco and Azure specialists wasted no time transforming the site from sluggish to speedy overnight. 

Here's what we achieved:

1) Better stability. 

The site previously ran on two large dedicated servers (8xCPU and 16GB of memory each) in a load-balanced environment. 

We moved the DOWTKs project onto Microsoft Azure for better stability of the load-balanced environment, self-maintenance, scalability options, and better app management. Once moved over, we started with the major configuration issues. 

Keeping the site stable during our changes was imperative, so we introduced a set of automated tests that notified us should any part of the site be affected by deployments. Azure has a lot of opportunities; with a bit of know-how, we enlisted Microsoft Azure Web Apps so we could deploy with zero downtime (in other words, no outages to a very busy site).

To assist with their slow backoffice, we split the production environment into a front end and a backoffice. 


Microsoft Azure configures front-end and backoffice as two separate sites; the front end is accessible for all users under the main domain, and the backoffice is held under a separate domain and used by content editors only.

2)  Maximised performance.

 After launching the site on the new infrastructure, we noticed some issues with performance. To maintain such a high volume of page views, we autoscaled the Azure Web App to ten machines so the website could handle the heavy traffic.

3) Reduced spending opportunities.

 Migrating to the cloud allows DOWTKs opportunities to save money on hosting costs. Azure lets you scale "up" and "out", meaning you only need to pay for the resources you use, you can increase or decrease what you need with a few clicks. 

4) Better development practices.

After more investigation using the Azure Diagnostic tools and Application Insights, we noticed a legacy issue with the Umbraco Examine index configuration. One quick fix and smooth deployment later...the site purrs along beautifully on two machines (S3 instance on Azure - 4CPU and 7GB RAM) with the processors at around 20%. 

That's a wrap.

These are just some impactful changes DOWTKs made by working with their Health Check Results.

If you're concerned about the health of your site (or want it to reach its full potential), we'd love to chat about your project!

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