Large Format Review, or LFR to our friends and colleagues, was first launched in 2009. Since that time, it has grown to have an international relevance, with readers and subscribers from every corner of the globe trusting our weekly news bulletins and daily website updates to ensure they get all of the breaking news in big print, first and fast. Indeed we are incredibly flattered that one illustrious manufacturer of wide format printing equipment has instructed staff in its Sign and Display Print division to subscribe to LFR in order to keep track of industry developments. 'We use LFR as a form of business intelligence' was the apparent reason for this instruction.
Delivering the news fast has always been our intention; what we may at times lack in editorial glitz, we more than make up for by delivering the breaking wide format industry news as soon as it happens.
Alas and alack, our poor old web server has been getting slower and slower over recent months, creaking and straining at the prospect of delivering almost 1 million pages of news to some 150,000 monthly visitors to our website. We've also been somewhat remiss in terms of keeping up with the latest online developments. In short, we needed to upgrade. Desperately.
So here we are, and here it is: the new LFR. Of course we've retained the familiar look (our users tell us often that they love the LFR layout, and the index system that provides links to all of the latest news quickly and easily) so whilst it is now cleaner and leaner, it is still visually and recognisably good old LFR.
Enough flimflam, what's actually new around here then?
News delivered on every platform - As mobile devices and tablets are increasingly used to access online content, we've ensured the new LFR was built using responsive technology that adapts itself to the viewer’s device. If you are viewing LFR on a desktop, tablet or smart phone, you'll get the same news content and features, formatted and delivered to suit.
We haven't simply paid lip service to this usability either - we score a resounding 99 out of 100 in Google’s ranking for User Experience on a mobile device. Load us up on your iPhone and judge for yourself - and of course be sure to add us to your bookmarks!
Faster everywhere - We've moved servers. We had to. The old one was well past pensionable age. But we haven't moved to just one new server, we've moved to lots of them!
LFR now lives in datacentres in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific; what’s more, LFR also gets delivered on a CDN (content delivery network) from 23 countries all around the world. If you visit LFR from a trade show in Shanghai, or a holiday in the West Indies, you'll be getting LFR news delivered from a server local to you. It's faster, it's more efficient, and frankly, it's just better.
Speed was an important issue during this upgrade. Our new servers use the latest technology. As an example, database content is now stored on faster SSD disks (data stored in fast memory, not on slow spinning disks), dynamic caching is fully implemented and we've ensured strict adherence to Google Page Speed recommendations. We now score a solid 'A' on Page Speed tests - and that speed is there for rapid news delivery by computer, tablet and phone.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, enough with the technobabble, what's actually new for me the reader?"
We have got some nice new features and there is a lot of additional functionality in the pipeline - but already today you will find easier ways to share content on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms using right-at-hand industry standard tools, plus we've added the ability to comment on any and all news stories using the industry standard Disqus commenting system.
So LFR news is now fully interactive, you can jump right in on the end of any story, add your opinion and start a discussion with other industry professionals – and you are invited to do exactly that. We want to build a community here, and you Dear Reader are a big and vitally important part of that.
Why not get involved right now? Sign up to Disqus, and add your comments below. We'd be absolutely delighted (and ever so grateful) for feedback on the new LFR, particularly if you are a mobile user. We’re also all ears as regards to requests for new features and functionality to improve LFR further still. So tell us what you want, and together we'll get things done.