WhisperGifts Re-Launch

Posted by Ross Poulton on Sat 23 June 2012 #whispergifts

Way back in 2007, my wife Lauren and I got married and went looking for a good bridal gift registry service. We didn't find one, so we built our own - WhisperGifts was born. It's now 5 years later, and today we are re-launching with a completely new look & feel and a 100% new code base under the hood.

I'm new here - what is WhisperGifts?

WhisperGifts lets couples who are getting married put their gift registry online - i.e. make available to their guests a list of the wedding gifts they'd like to receive.

In many cultures this is done by utilising the services of big chain department stores. This has two major downsides: the items are typically more expensive, and the range is moderate at best. Why not have a gift registry that lets you get gifts from anywhere?

So we built WhisperGifts - an online service that lets you list items from anywhere you like. In fact, you don't even list where the item is from - you simply say "We'd love a toaster that cooks crumpets." Your guests are still given enough latitude to select which toaster, from where, and at what price. It's win-win!

As a hobby, I can't say that WhisperGifts is too bad. Enough couples make use of it for me to say that it's worthwhile, and it's a great place for me to try out new tech and startup skills. But I've hardly put enough effort into it, which leads us to today: WhisperGifts 3.0.

WhisperGifts 3.0

I re-skinned WhisperGifts a few years back, but I've never been happy with the layout. A visitor to the website isn't really introduced to what WhisperGifts is, and there is no obvious call to action. There's a thousand and one problems that can be pointed out by anybody who has ever worked on a startup.

The old look and feel isn't the only thing that's gone, though. About 90% of the old codebase has been re-written, but not just for the sake of it - until now WhisperGifts has been running on 5-year-old code, a lifetime in web development. Every now and again I make minor updates to keep it compatible with up-to-date versions of Django, but purely for security purposes.

With a new back-end powered by all the goodness of Django 1.4, I'm able to have a website that runs faster, uses niceties like SQL aggregation, has proper form definitions (my old code still has comments referring to forms and newforms as two separate things) and is more maintainable to boot.

In terms of LOC there's about 50% less code to do the same end result.

So we've got a new visual style and a new back-end, but what else?

  • Our old "Premium" package is now "Standard" and a new Premium package has been created. It includes things like printed guest information cards and an unlimited number of items
  • Sharing of registry details via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter
  • Custom domains - so you don't have to have your registry at 'ournames.whispergifts.com'
  • Coming very soon will be custom registry templates

The new website is now live, at www.whispergifts.com. I'll be blogging again shortly with some more technical details of the change, which are probably of more interest to those who read this blog for the Django posts as none of it will be WhisperGifts-specific.

Getting married? E-mail me and I'll see what we can do about a few freebie premium accounts :)