Preparing auctioning software for high-traffic events | Case Study

Preparing for
high-traffic events

Auctioning software for collectors, galleries & artists


How the Wise team, entrusted with engineering optimization, made sure the Paddle8 auction platform has efficient performance and offers a better experience for their art-loving users.

Auctioning software for selling artworks
Industry

Media & Entertainment
Location

United States
Time frame

9 months

Project Scope

Paddle8, a New York-based auction house, approached us with a request to prepare an auctioning software for high-load online events and improve the experience for several user personas. Wise team’s tasks as engineering partner were to build a new admin panel for easier auction management, improve site search for collectors, create an in-house app for offline events, and optimize the overall project infrastructure.

Technology stack

Front end: React
Back end: PHP, Python, Django, GraphQL, MySQL, ELK Stack
Amazon Web Services: Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Amazon Relational Database Service, ElasticSearch Service, Amazon S3
Google Cloud: Google Kubernetes Engine, Compute Engine, Compute Storage, Vision Artificial Intelligence

Dedicated development team
Software audit
End-to-end app development
Mobile development
High-load system optimization
Improving UX

Background

As an online auction software for collectors, curators, and artists, Paddle8 showcased a broad range of fine art, collectibles, and luxury goods in collaboration with cultural institutions, influencers, celebrities, and more than 200 museums worldwide.
The platform could be used by collectors who were able to bid for the desired item online. It had already developed notification and alerting systems (mobile, email), as well as a tax and shipping calculation system. Auction administrators could use the platform to start, edit auctions, and generate reports on past events.
The Paddle8 team had small engineering teams in Poland and the USA and worked with freelancers for ad hoc tech tasks. Yet, for the complex technical efforts on the product roadmap, the management team decided to find a technical partner that would empower the existing teams with mature senior engineers.

Business & Tech Challenges

As the product started to scale, more visitors took part in the actions and more events were about to take place, the website performance began to decrease. Besides, admins needed an easier way to start auctions, and collectors – a more user-friendly way to navigate the art object catalog.

01 System unprepared for the high loads

The platform required optimization for high-traffic events. The marketing team in the USA was launching campaigns attracting more site visitors, and actions with world celebrities were scheduled.
02 Outdated legacy code

The project consisted of legacy parts that required clean-up and refactoring. Supporting old codebase parts took additional computing resources. Lack of documentation made onboarding for new engineers difficult.
03 A slow process of adding new auctions

To start or edit an auction event, admins could only hard-code images and related data. This made organizing multiple events time-consuming and could cause security issues as well.
04 Website usability problems

As the number of art objects on the website storefront increased, finding the necessary item became a heroic usability battle almost impossible to win.

Research & Project Assessment

Taking into consideration industry standards, we dived deeply into the client’s product vision and business goals. Based on our technology expertise, we offered a list of the technical environment, infrastructure, and security improvements, as well as a roadmap for the requested features – admin panel and site search.

Conducted technical state analysis and project audit
Prioritized project requirements
Compiled a list of necessary services and technologies
Created development process roadmap
Set up communication loop with the client

Empowering the Auctioning Software

From the beginning, three engineers started work on the project, cooperating with the CTO, the Marketing department from the USA, and the distributed development team from Poland. In several months, another three engineers joined the team.

Optimized development setup


We started with moving all services from legacy unsupported Vagrant VM setup to Docker Compose. Our team took care of the code clean-up, refactoring, and supporting an old codebase within the new functionality. It allowed us to reduce the ownership cost and continue work on infrastructure optimization.
With every new feature realized, the Wise engineers also created comprehensive tech documentation and simplified the onboarding process for new teammates joining the project, both from the Wise team and teams from other countries.

Integrated site search


To help Paddle8 users find art objects on the website faster, we performed data migration and integrated the software for auction with ElasticSearch Service.
Due to code clean-up, huge parts of the legacy code were deprecated, so we also made sure all the remaining parts are compatible with the newly integrated website search.

New auction software features


We decided with the client to launch a new Bid Retraction feature because deleting a bid was a time-consuming manual process for the admins. To delete a bid, someone from the tech team had to run a SQL query in the database and perform additional testing to make sure that it didn’t affect other auctions/bids.
With the new feature, admins could delete any bids placed accidentally or that are no longer valid directly from the auction admin page. It helped Paddle8 to unburden the tech team from multiple requests and made the overall process of removing misplaced bids more secure.

Improved storefront management


Using the Paddle8 website users could both take part in the auctions or buy collectibles at a fixed price. Before collaboration with the Wise Engineering team, administrators were able to add the item to the storefront only by hard-coding images, data in the code. This was a very time-consuming and insecure process.
The Wise team helped to implement the storefront management system to the Paddle8 online auction software. Now admins could publish new artworks, add images, data, and select the page they had to be published on via the web interface.

Mobile app development


There were two mobile applications the Wise team delivered. The first one was an iOS application on React Native that basically duplicated the functionality of the website from the collector’s perspective. There was a personal user profile with a history of bidding, users could buy items at a fixed price, and place bids taking parts in the online auctions.
The second app for iPad was aimed at in-house use in offline events exclusively. The app, also written on React Native, allowed guests to place bids for the artworks that were presented during the particular offline auction.

php
gcloud
python
django
react
mysql
aws
graphql-text
elixir

results

  • Improved user experience for different personas – artists, admins, collectors, and galleries.
  • Software for holding both offline and online auctions, as well as an online catalog for selling artworks at a fixed price.
  • Intuitive process for adding new auction events, new products to the storefront, and finding the necessary collectibles on the website.
  • Reduced ownership costs with the improved product infrastructure.
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