Complete Tenders were reliant on a complicated Wordpress website with the majority of their essential website tender data, fed by a single Wordpress plugin. The plugin was used to ‘scrape’ content from Government and EU tender portals and post it to the Complete Tenders website.
The existing website suffered with a number of points of technical deficiency. Each issue needed to be overcome to provide resilient services to raise Complete Tenders’ position in their sector:
- The core Wordpress data scraping plugin was failing and had become obsolete.
- Due to the sheer amount of data in the Wordpress database the website was running exceptionally slowly.
- The Wordpress Admin had become painfully slow to use.
- New services could not be delivered without a solution to the website’s shortcomings.
- Each technical issue had the potential to affect the user experience.
The technically critical website implementation relied on a method of scraping data from live web pages. Although this solution has its merits in some environments, for a website that relies on good quality data 24/7, scraping data isn’t recommended. The original website development would have been much more successful and resilient if it used an API (Application Programming Interface) as a data source.
To develop complex web integrations that run smoothly 24/7 takes experience. One of the foremost reasons that Complete Tenders partnered with Tonic Fusion was down to our problem solving prowess and significant experience in developing a multitude of websites and web systems that plug into APIs and software solutions.
Phase 1 – Investigate salvaging the Wordpress website
Initial investigation was undertaken to provide options to solve the problems with the existing website. A new website wasn’t on the table at the start, we were initially tasked with an investigatory project to provide answers as to why the feed plugin had failed.
Phase 2 – Reporting and brainstorming
Having fully investigated the problems with the existing website and uncovering a number of additional issues we presented our findings. The report didn’t make easy reading, with such critical technical failures behind the existing systems we had to provide alternative solutions other than just patching error strewn Wordpress plugins and systems.
Phase 3 – Decision time
We always endeavour to provide clients with informative options to make calculated business decisions, this project was no different. Each option that we provided took into consideration; technical web development, the user experience and focused business development strategies.
Having dismissed all options to save the current website, the decision was made to redevelop a bespoke website without reliance on third party plugins and data import systems.
Phase 4 – Website design and development begins
Web design and visual approach – Out with the old and in with the new? Not exactly. One visual area of focus was brand continuity. The old Complete Tenders website looked good and we didn’t want to lose its visual appeal. Therefore the new web design enhanced aesthetics and built on the user experience and website flow.
Technical web development and API integration – Nothing is ever simple when it comes to API integration. Utilising the API provided for source tender data was a challenge in itself. Not only was the API (provided on the UK Government tender portal) poorly documented, it also included various data tables not relevant to the existing portal structure.
Overcoming hurdles – Making the data reliable
Having built the API interlinking to the Contracts Finder database, we had to understand if the data that we were gathering was sound. What we found was that the data was only as good as the person or department that uploaded it to the tender portal. In the future, the development of a set of AI rules to restructure and recategorise tender opportunities would provide tender results that are a closer match to search criteria.