20 Minutes improves website performance
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If you’re in France, 20 minutes of your time will catch you up on international, national, and regional news as well as sports, lifestyle, and entertainment information thanks to the free, daily newspaper 20 Minutes (vingt minutes). Launched in 2002, 20 Minutes is the leading free news provider for commuters across 20 metropolitan areas in France, producing 11 print editions as well as online news via its website and mobile application.
With a reach of more than 21 million readers, it is the second-largest print news provider. It’s also the top media platform for reaching young urbanites (under 50 years old). The 20 Minutes website, 20minutes.fr, is France’s third most-visited online news site, with more than 7 million unique visitors each month.
From web to print
As Aurélien Capdecomme, CTO at 20 Minutes, explains, "We are one of the few major media companies that has one team responsible for both web and print content. Every one of our 100 journalists creates and publishes content on our website and iOS/Android application. Then overnight, our editors use that content to create the print versions of the newspaper."
To support this unique media model, the technology team at 20 Minutes created a new backend publishing platform. Now, 20 Minutes has one content management system (CMS) and one back office platform that all journalists and editors use.
Completely rewriting the publishing platform in PHP was a high-profile, high-pressure project for the technology team. The company wanted to deploy the new platform as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. While the technology group at 20 Minutes strove to meet challenging deadlines, Capdecomme acknowledges that there was little time available for optimizing code or testing for errors. "With the first release of the new platform, we had many errors and performance was very bad," says Capdecomme. That’s when 20 Minutes turned to New Relic.
Finding and fixing performance problems
Some of the technology team members at 20 Minutes had experience using New Relic products in previous jobs and knew that the detailed metrics and code-level visibility New Relic provides were what the team needed to quickly solve the problems with the backend publishing platform. "We deployed New Relic and then spent a month addressing the errors and performance issues it found’," says Capdecomme. "We were able to improve performance significantly and we even ranked better in Google as well."
Today, if you walk into the open space area at 20 Minutes, you’ll see New Relic dashboards on four screens showing different metrics. Everyone can track performance easily and see the health of the application at any point in time. Adds Capdecomme, "Every day our CEO comes into my office to ask me how performance is. So, every day, he gets a New Relic report." The company takes an Agile development approach and is moving towards DevOps as well. Gaining greater visibility into application performance helps the technology team deliver and maintain higher quality software development. "I can say that after deploying New Relic, all of our applications are much more stable," says Capdecomme.
Moving to the cloud
With the publishing platform running smoothly, the technology team at 20 Minutes is now turning its attention to the cloud. "Our next major project is to move to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for our computing needs and React for our technology stack," says Capdecomme. Cloud computing is another way that the small, innovative team at 20 Minutes works smarter and finds ways to be more efficient. Capdecomme sees New Relic as an integral part of the technology team going forward. "Every one of our developers uses New Relic," he says. "That’s not going to change."