Unlocking growth with a complete WordPress rebuild

After years with an off-the-shelf WordPress theme and a growing list of dozens of plugins, FreightWaves was struggling with a slow and fragile site that was causing poor SEO scores and substandard UX for both readers and internal editorial teams.

This affected the company’s ability to implement new site features and grow the business.

The Challenge

A seamless transition with zero downtime.

Identifying that your tech stack has become an unpalatable risk is just the first step. The challenge comes in rebuilding a lean, fast and flexible version of a site where a lot of the functionality was handled by a bloated theme and endless plugins.

FreightWaves required a site that handled everything from programmatic ads, to capturing first party data, to integrating with APIs from Brightcove (Video) and its logistics data platform SONAR. 

This functionality would need to be included on this rebuilt site, which needed to be relaunched with zero downtime while also moving to a new hosting solution, WP Engine.

From the media side of FreightWaves, one of the most valuable ROI we’ve made was the work The Code Company did. It’s almost unmeasurable the amount of potential and growth we’ve unlocked.

Nick Torres,  Director of Media Technology FreightWaves

The Solution

The Code Company approach

The problem with off-the-shelf themes is that they are one-size-fits-all, built to work for a variety of different use cases. The result is superfluous code a site may never need, causing bloat and a myriad of issues from performance to SEO to difficulties with editorial teams updating the site.

The Code Company in these cases rebuilds themes from scratch, built specifically for a client’s unique business needs and requirements. As part of this audit, we also reduced the number of plugins used by FreightWaves by 50%, with no loss of required functionality.

Our technical debt was essentially cleared to zero from a WordPress point of view. That in addition to the SEO optimisation we were doing really lit a fire under our Google numbers.

Nick Torres,  Director of Media Technology FreightWaves

The Results

An immediate improvement

FreightWaves saw Google’s performance scores improve drastically on completion of the rebuild, leading to a growth in pageviews by 35% and new users by 26%: 

  • Performance scores increased 266%
  • First Contentful Paint improved 87%
  • Time To Interactive improved 83%
  • Speed Index improved 81%

    An Optimised Experience

    Better UX all round

    • Speed improvements resulted in no loss of business-critical functionality.
    • A leaner site has resulted in significantly faster load times for editorial teams in the backend.
    • Original front-end design was maintained while the backend was completely refactored.
    • Homepage curation was significantly improved using the WYSIWYG Gutenburg block editor instead of the previous experience involving hundreds of settings.
    • FreightWaves’ internal tech team can maintain the site after handover from The Code Company. 
    • The new stack allows for a more robust version control and integration/deployment workflow.

      When I’m evaluating partners to work with, The Code Company is my benchmark in terms of having confidence in their expertise.

      Nick Torres,  Director of Media Technology FreightWaves

      Hosting Migration Expertise

      WP Engine

      The FreightWaves project came with an extra level of complexity – migrating a completely rebuilt application to a new hosting provider.

      The Code Company has worked with managed hosting providers across the spectrum, knows the nuances of each, and where the landmines are hidden when doing complex migrations. 

      The rebuilt FreightWaves application was moved to WP Engine with zero downtime.