Even though I no longer work at Yahoo!, I had to blog about the Messenger website redesign (internally known as project Aurora).
I started working on it around December 2007 on preliminary planning, scoping and design feedback. After we had the specs nailed down, we hired Ryan Parman as our main developer to build out the site. Adrien Cahen worked on a new PHP framework for our site to run on and I worked as the project lead/architect/go-to guy for anything tricky.
Awesome things about the site
- Shiny new CSS & HTML
- We scrapped everything we had and rewrote it all with YUI Fonts and Reset. MUCH cleaner and more semantic.
- Better Performance
- The old Messenger website had gotten quite slow over time and I spent a few months cleaning it up to get a decent ySlow grade for the homepage and download page. The new site is blazin’ fast, getting A grades on all pages except the Plugins page, primarily because the images are pulled from the Yahoo! Gallery website and they don’t set appropriate cache headers.
- Fantastic Configuration
- Building a site for nearly 30 localizations isn’t easy, and configuration is one of the hardest parts. Every locale has specific features and needs that increase the complexity of the site. Ryan, Adrien and I spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to do this and I think it’s much better than before. We have base configuration files for each locale and every page is locale agnostic, it simply loads the appropriate configuration file for the locale you are viewing.
- Automagical Content Updates
- In the old Messenger website, we had configuration for the IMV gallery in two locations, one of them remote. In order to display a page of IMVs, the data had to be merged, which ended up in lots of code and duplication of information. The new website fetches information for the IMV and Plugin galleries automatically and caches the content. No configuration resides on the webservers, so there’s a lot less work on our side to update and edit content.
Many thanks to Ryan, Adrien, Sarah, Lorraine and Tak at Yahoo!. Good work guys!