This story began with one company that realized that it was time to move on to new web publishing platform. A collaborative of national broadcast stations was seeking to convert all 20 of its media sites to WordPress.com VIP and came to Doejo as its rapid transport from idea to realization.
We started building the project: brainstormed, wire-framed it, designed it, developed it, and of course, rethought and reworked features here and there. Just this month, we released our first site, with more to follow. Everyone who was at least once involved in a software development and integration project probably knows that the release phase is just a mark in product lifetime. The thing is, software development is gardening.
Software developer and author, Dave Thomas says, “With a garden, there’s a constant assumption of maintenance. A garden is something that you’re always interacting with to improve. We want people to view software as being far more organic, far more malleable, and something that you have to be prepared to interact with to improve all the time.” So, we planted this beautiful garden, and by the time we’ve seen first sprouts and blossoms we realized that we had a problem.
Ad Operations (AdOps), the vital feature of the news sites that managed and helped generate ad revenue, was a complete disaster. I mean it worked, but instead of beautiful flower or ripe tomato it was a carnivore that fed on the sanity of developers, users and ad sales. We could’ve burned it with Napalm and started over, but that would kill our precious garden as well. So we tried to keep it contained and started to carefully think on the new strategy in AdOps.
The first step was switching the ad network. The second step was developing a plugin for WordPress that would allow end-users to easily maintain their ads (and sanity) with a nice and clean user interface. Instead of building something in-house only, we decided to go Open Source and wrote something that could be used by everyone. We did it in collaboration with awesome folks from Automattic (who refered us to our new client in the first place actually). We named it, Ad Code Manager.
We wanted to make everyone’s lives easier (well, maybe not everyone, but anyone who is involved in AdOps with WordPress). This means we needed to give the ability to developers to easily implement it in their themes and we needed to make sure that end-users will enjoy ad management as much as possible. And may I say, we chose the right path.
AdOps Quality Assurance for the first site took about one month, a brick, and a bottle of free Scotch, long story (but we made sure that every piece of code was in place, connected to ad campaign and could actually generate revenue). The first implementation with Ad Code Manager Quality Assurance took less than week, and all consecutive ones – less than one day. It would be unfair if I said that it was an easy ride. We wrote the plugin with idea that it should be easily extensible with different ad network configurations. Currently, (v0.1.3) only Doubleclick For Publishers is supported, but we plan on adding support for different ad providers in v0.2.
The project is on github. Feel free to follow, fork and comment on issues.
Also available on WP.ORG plugins repository.