Behind-the-scenes at Latest Deals
In our mission to become the best deal hunters we must push, push, push. There are many hurdles to overcome - it is like a race without end. But with each one jumped over, crawled under and broken, it becomes clear: The obstacle is the way.
Latest Deals is almost one year old (time of writing: August 2017). Our community has grown to about 100,000 members. That effort has come without big marketing budgets which other companies would have enjoyed. The technology used through which you read this now is built entirely by Kelsey from his basement in Bristol. These words are written from a loft in London, and the deals you like and comment on are from across the country. People on their sofas and often, no doubt, toilets.
Some would call these factors limitations. I call them assets. It is because we are small we can be fast: "Shall we do this?", Yes, yes, yes. OK, done. "What about this?", No, no, no. OK, next.
Making Latest Deals faster as it grows bigger
- Kelsey has re-made the database we use to be smaller. Two-thirds smaller. Despite growing 100,000x since day one, our database is now 66% smaller.
- We have moved our servers from Dublin to London because of Brexit. Who knows what that event would imply for cross-border internet access and servers? Just to be sure and for peace of mind, we are two years ahead of the game. This will also mean an imperceptible speed improvement (milliseconds) - but then again, that is how Olympic gold medals are won.
- The way we fetch deals from the database for tag pages is now 25% faster. You will see that spinning wheel less and less. Collectively that is years of deal hunting time saved.
- If you changed your profile picture it would take while to reflect across the site. Now it is instant.
Removing duplicates and maintaining quality
- The number of deals being shared on our site has quadrupled in recent months. Sometimes we are beating the biggest deal sites on the web. However, we must maintain quality for Latest Deals to move from good to great.
- We have updated the way duplicates are monitored for voucher codes and competitions. This should mean fewer get through and a better experience for Latest Dealers.
- We have announced several new volunteer Mentors who specialise in each of these sections to help keep these areas in top tip condition. We are incredibly lucky to have such great members - thank you.
- You can now flag posts as duplicate. Press the three dots to the right of a deal, report, duplicate. Share the URL you think it is a duplicate of an a Mentor will receive a notification to take a look.
Moving a mountain starts with lifting one single stone
If you were to print Latest Deals on paper, each web page on a single sheet of A4, the stack would be higher than a mountain. Making each and every page useful, easy to find and up-to-date is difficult. Most of what happens behind-the-scenes is a combination of tiny updates and improvements:
- You can now like comments encouraging better quality (or funny) responses
- There is now a welcome video explaining points in your dashboard
- If you get multiple notifications for the same deal, they will now be summarised into one
- If someone marks your post as expired, you will get a notification
- You can now contact us directly via a contact form
- On mobile, we have improved the menu so you can access deals, vouchers, freebies and competitions with just one press instead of two
- On desktop you can switch from Popular to Latest in one click instead of two
- When you sign up, if you accidentally make a spelling mistake we will suggest a correction
- When you first post a deal, you are given links to our Tips & Tricks
- You can now search within Chat to find old forum threads and advice
- Stock Checker now clarifies when something is pre-order vs. in-stock, and we have even added a list of naughty companies who pretend you can pre-order when really you cannot.
- Some companies do not like us and try to block our servers. It is difficult but we always find a way - Latest Dealers come first
- Domino's Pizza Finder is more stable and fast becoming the nation's favourite tool to find discount codes
- Search now shows new deals first, rather than older popular deals. You can still change it though if you want
- We have added contact information and company history to 150+ of the UK's biggest retailers. You can find this at the bottom of each merchant page
Community growth on Facebook
A large part of our community's growth is from taking Latest Deals to where the people are: Facebook.
- We started a Facebook Group which has grown to 25,000 members in two months. It's a great place to share your photos of deals, yellow stickers and freebies - as well as ask questions.
- The group receives over 1,400 posts a week and 4,000 requests from new members to join. Each and every single one is reviewed to maintain quality. This is a huge amount of work and done primarily by more volunteer Mentors. Without them, the group could not succeed. Fact. For this we are very, very, grateful.
- Our Facebook Page has over 70,000 fans and is one of the most active in the UK. With it, we managed to crash a Swarovski jewellery website. Whoops. It is continuing to grow at a steady rate and remains a great way of introducing people to our community.
What isn't next? The long-term mission remains the same: to be the best deal hunters.
Whatever we can do to make that happen is on the list. New tools, better data, more members...
In the short-term that means voucher codes and a refer-a-friend bonus. More on those next time.
Thank you for being part of this journey, I hope you're enjoying it and please if you have any questions just pop them here in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.