Case Study

Improving performance at America’s largest fact-checking site

Boosting performance, managing ads, and establishing well-defined DevOps, for America’s leading fact-checking website

Humans

K. Adam WhiteKAdam White
Human, Person, AccessoriesFrank Klein
Samuel SidlerSam Sidler
Shailee ShethShailee Sheth
Joe HoyleJoe Hoyle

About Snopes

In its field, few can claim to have the same legacy as Snopes.com. The fact-checking site has been online since 1994: almost as long as the internet itself has existed. It is one of the oldest and best-known resources of its kind, spearheading a culture of empowered media consumers with a unique approach to investigative journalism.

Unpredictable traffic spikes

Snopes handles an average of 12 – 20 million visitors a month, with demands on the site occurring unpredictably and causing large peaks in traffic. Vinny Green, VP of Operations and co-owner of Snopes, approached the team at roots.io, an organization focused on supporting open source peer production with WordPress. The project was then handed over to the infrastructure expert at roots.io, Nathaniel Schweinberg, who is also a Systems Engineer at Human Made.

Our expertise in managing websites of this size and scale meant we were confident in being able to tackle the challenges of this project, so we were able to quickly step in and boost delivery, supporting Snopes throughout the transition to our fully managed digital experience platform, Altis.

A migration built for scale

Human Made joined Snopes to migrate their hosting stack to our cloud infrastructure – a stack geared towards complex, high traffic WordPress sites at scale. Our goal was to deliver a service that ensured Snopes remained highly performant, fast, and always available.

Due to the automation we have setup in our infrastructure, we were able to build the stack within a short period of time and successfully deliver the project. Helping Snopes to return the focus back to their core business: fact-checking and publishing.


Once the migration kicked-off, the team at Snopes were able to benefit immediately from adopting the well-defined and structured DevOps Human Made implemented to complete the project. This gave them confidence in pushing forward with the project at speed, and ensured the integrity of the code.


Working with some of the most respected professionals in the industry created an opportunity for the technical team at Snopes to enhance their knowledge and understanding of WordPress, and WordPress’ native publishing capabilities and potential. Not only did the Human Made team instill a secure and scalable workflow with proper version control and a push-to-production pipeline; we were also able to help Snopes make quality decisions faster, boosting the efficiency of the project overall and helping it progress successfully.

“They’re at the cutting edge of WordPress development. Whenever we want answers or new build ideas, they know how to provide them. They have a deep technical understanding of the platform that we need in order to keep innovating and elevating our business.”

Vinney Green, Vice President

Boosting site performance

DescriptionIn order to speed up their local development and improve the performance of the live site with more optimisation’s, we rebuilt Snopes’s production and development build pipeline by moving it to Webpack. We did this for several reasons related to improved performance and facilitating developer processes:
– Improved frontend features: Using Webpack makes it easier to build on and improve frontend code. We were able to add improved features such as hot reloading, style swapping, and better source maps, to name a few.
– Future-proofing code: It allows Snopes to use modern language features for SCSS (‘Sassy’ CSS, a superset of CSS3’s syntax) and JavaScript, making the code more secure in the face of future changes, as well as encouraging better development practices. In addition, it also better prepares Snopes for a move to Gutenberg: the new WordPress editor which was merged in the WordPress 5.0 release.
– Greater control: It gives us more control over how the code is built out for production, so Snopes can efficiently reduce the final amount of code served to the user and speed up the site.


To further improve site performance, we minified Snopes’ production JavaScript files: a process that removes redundant or unnecessary code and converts it into a smaller form without jeopardising the functionality. This significantly reduced the amount of code served to the user, and in turn, significantly improved site speed.

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