The Icelandic name generator was just a fun project created after a morning meeting idea in the newsroom. It was designed and programmed to be brief and simple: Type in your own and your father’s first name, push a button, and voila: You get an Icelandic sounding name.
Then you could share the name and the image of the Icelandic national shirt on social media (e.g. Facebook & Twitter).
What we didn’t expect was the huge traffic this small app would generate after publishing the web-app the day after Iceland’s 2-1 win over England (28th July 2016).
The idea was inspired by previous services. During the World Championship two years earlier, one of our competitors created a Brazilian name generator. For us it was an inspiration, but we wanted to be more ambitious, and create names that was recognizable for our readers, but still sounded Icelandic. The idea came from our newsroom during the morning meeting, and our algorithm for creating an Icelandic name was checked by visiting «Tommi’s burger joint» during our lunch. The small restaurant is owned and runned by people from Iceland. The employees gave us their thumb’s up for our names, and gave us a few pointers for improving our name-algorithm. Then we went back, worked until 6 pm to design and optimize our app, before launching at 8pm the same day.
No data sources used. Part of the algorithm was tuned against Wikipedia, which listed the squads of the national football squads for both genders.
One developer and one designer for a day. Then we had to add one addional workday for the developer, because of the traffic impact.
The project went viral worldwide shortly after publishing 8pm, and crashed in a spectacular way. Some of the code was rewritten, and we republished midnight, and the traffic went through the roof. Within five days (days between Iceland’s win over England, and their loss agains France the 3rd of July), the generator had almost 5.4 million views. 340,000 names were shared on Facebook and Twitter, which is more than the population of Iceland!
Additionally, our traffic spiked right after kickoff between France and Iceland, with 12,000 pageviews per minute. If half of this shared their name, it will give a hundred shares on social media per second. The viral spread was monitored, and we translated the generator into ten languages, in order to follow the viral spread.
The traffic. We had to rewrite the service several times in order to meet the viral traffic, which is visualized here: https://jarib.carto.com/viz/6dc580a0-41c3-11e6-8c88-0e5db1731f59/public_map