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The Payoff

Project management indicates that it's wonderful to maintain the common architecture. Rather than having two or three similar problems across our various sites, often it's one problem that can be solved with a single change and build. Previously, the team would be forced to prioritize issues like this according to which internal partner was the "squeakiest wheel" or had the most to lose from a revenue perspective, so the change has eliminated some political issues faced in the past.

Michael Hughes says, "The imprint newly added to the architecture [Fair Shake Press] is likely the most wrinkle-free implementation we've had to date. It wasn't perfect, mind you, but it was smooth sailing most of the way."

From the human factors standpoint, maintenance has been a fairly smooth ride. Changes that affect all sites have been extremely easy to make—considerably fewer files need editing than on the old system. Being able to address things affecting all of the clients at once is very nice. However, changes to individual sites can be a challenge. Some of the clients, naturally, want to do something different than what has launched. To a great extent, the team can accomplish the changes just by editing the CSS files. But the more the sites diverge, the trickier they become to manage.

Human factors' Evers says, "Of course, there's still more to do. We're not yet fully XHTML compliant, like we need to be. The code driving the advertisements was one of the culprits. Some pieces coming out of the CMS and a few of our back-end calls need editing as well. We're not there yet, but we're very close."

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