As some of you awesome locals will have spotted, we updated the Game-Debate website last week. This is the biggest single update we have ever done on GD.
How big was the website update?
Every aspect of our enormous website was re-written (front and back end code, if those terms mean much to you). And then we re-homed it in a completely new server architecture. This was a task I had been putting off for years. Because I knew the rebuild would take a long time and the end result, on the face of it, would just reproduce Game-Debate as it already was. It would have little obvious improvements, it would include any failings from the original site and upon first rollout of the updated site, would have lots of new bugs. So of course, from a business point of view this task is a very stupid thing to have to do.
Now my gut instincts above were spot on. We have been working on the site rebuild since September 2020. As all our resources were focused on this rebuild it meant that we were unable to improve existing areas of GD or create new features, and as you noticed we rolled out the newest version last week and it comes with new bugs all over the huge site. Obviously we are trying to find and fix these new bugs and would like your help in spotting these. See the end off the article for more details on this.
So why would we go ahead and rebuild a huge website like Game-Debate?
Over the years the site has slowed down and numerous bugs were cropping up. Some were unfixable bugs that were caused by us being stuck on old versions of coding languages and using deprecated code and dated querying. The only way to get around these bugs would be to upgrade the code base/ language versions and infrastructure. But doing that would break the whole site until all existing code had been upgraded and rewritten, including the rebuild of all queries and databases.
It’s not all bad though, if we could perform an upgrade then we were in for some treats, like page load speed improvements, more powerful/comprehensive and faster database querying, better pre built code libraries that we could bolt in and use, which would all mean quicker build times of new more powerful features.
But this undertaking for such a small company like us was too daunting to attempt, when we could just bimble along making new features that might deliver more traffic and more ad revenue. And so I chose not to do it. Instead to try and push forward, until there was no choice. Well the “no choice” option came along when the search engine giants started saying they would heavily penalise our already dwindling ad revenue if we didn’t provide certain infrastructure and code base upgrades.
Search Engines still might kill Game-Debate
Now one final thing that held me back from doing this sort of upgrade, apart from all the stuff explained above, is that no one has any idea how Google and other search engines will deal with Game-Debate’s site re-coding. Despite our best efforts of making the site look exactly as it did, the search engines will read the page code and see it is all completely new, which may make them go, “hey this is a new website, so we don’t trust it just yet and we will reduce the traffic we send to it until we decide to trust it”. And that reduction in traffic is sent off to competitor sites and means a reduction in ad revenue. And that traffic may never come back and that might spell the death of Game-Debate.
But I thought, let’s give it a go and if the website does die at least we would have had a good run and learnt some very rare insights along the way. Like how does Google respond to a site wide code rebuild over the short and long term.
Websites rebuilding and worried about Google search rankings following a site rebuild
If any other websites read this article and are considering something similar and are concerned, then by all means get in touch and I will let you know how it goes and happily chat you through the pitfalls of the process.
Money ran out to test, so we have swapped over to the updated version of GD
Now if we could, we would have sat in the development cycle even longer, trying to squash all the bugs. But time and money ran out and after a year of building we decided to do the swap. We have been running multiple servers in parallel during a lot of this period as we test the new site, but still need to keep the original site running.
Debugging and the awesome GD community
As you guys know, over the years Game Debate has developed into a wonderful community of like-minded and passionate gamers. Whether it’s your love for gaming, or your love of PC hardware, or even both, GD has become a place where we can all gather, discuss, and report our own findings in order to better help everyone interested in the gaming and PC hardware space.
But, as is the case with most recoats of paint, we may have missed a few spots. As such, there may be one or two or a dozen bugs laying around, and so this area will remain as a place where you can submit your bugs and findings. We know some areas of the site are currently buggy, lacking content, or are just not very intuitive anymore, so please let us know everything you find and we can do our best to fix it.
Now, like me, I know you will be spotting many many improvements that could be applied, but right now we are looking for bugs. Things that don't work, perhaps forms you fill in that aren’t being sent, or pages not displaying information when you know they should. Big obvious bugs. After that we will move into the next phase where we are looking for style bugs. Sections of content that are overlapping or perhaps buttons are odd etc.
Then after that we will be looking at new ideas and features that you help think up and we have a ton of awesome ideas already, that with the new code base should be far quicker to roll out.
However, to be honest, this final stage, while it’s super fun and what I really enjoy doing, may never happen, as GD dies a slow death at the hands of the search engines, loss of traffic and loss of ad revenue.
You can help further keep us alive though, by supporting GD and removing our ad dependency. Please become a Premium member for as little as $2 a month, and we turn off ads and you also gain access to extra features across the whole site. These features can help you better understand hardware, gaming and potentially save you thousands on your next PC upgrade.
Otherwise, please help us find the bugs and add a link in the comments section below to any area that delivers a serious bug. And describe how the bug happened and where you saw the bug on the page, if it is not obvious.
Whatever happens from here on, I thank you for your wonderful support and will speak again soon. For now, pop any bug findings in the comments area below.
Big hugs, F