[Product Update] Member Site Optimizations

The 2017 year was a great year of growth for Carrot! We talked more about that in our year-in-review post, but wanted to take a closer look at some of the technical growth that has come from our development team this year to continue to support the thousands of Carrot websites out there, and be ready for thousands more!

We’ve released and talked about many other features like automatic image compression that give our member’s site a performance edge, but here’s a behind the scenes look at what makes Carrot special and sets us apart from even the most sophisticated hosting service you might get from a “typical” web host.

Not your momma’s shared hosting

A huge benefit from Carrot’s growth has been the ability to create a full-time development team. Jason joined us full time this year and has tackled head-on the virtual nuts and bolts of serving Carrot websites to your customers.

It has always been important to us that Carrot websites be fast and reliable, and that can’t change as we grow – things should get even faster and more reliable!

You’re in good company on Carrot’s custom AWS powered platform.

Asset CDN

The first step for us was moving all of your site assets to a distributed CDN (content delivery network). This means once your website is loaded by a visitor, all the images you have uploaded to your site are served from an additional server located close to your visitor.

Faster because we are using a system built for speedy image delivery, and we are spreading the load of serving the whole site onto multiple systems.

Kinda like when they open that fancy new grocery store super close to your house.

App Cluster

Next, we took that same idea and applied it to the initial load of your website – spread that job of serving carrot sites out to a cluster of servers.

This is like moving from that single checkout mom-and-pop store, to multiple checkout lines at the grocery store.

Auto-Scaling

Finally, we implemented a system to control the size of our application cluster, so no matter how many visitors (or bots) are hitting your site at any time, we can keep up with the demand and scale up/down our number of servers accordingly.

Like when they open up more cash registers at checkout!


Top of the scoreboard – Pagespeed

Now that we knew Carrot sites were always highly available to visitors, we let Austin take a look at the way your Carrot sites load in your web browser.

What we found is that while Carrot sites performed better than our competitors in tests like Google’s Pagespeed test, we found more room to improve.

Member Site Optimizations: Allowing customization with optimization

Tests like Google Pagespeed are designed to show you how close you are to ideal conditions – this is very hard to get perfect while allowing for customizations!

These perfect numbers are typically achieved by web developers who can control the whole build process of their website – not a user-editable/customizable website platform.

For example, some of Google’s own websites score in the red:

And often times the things that Google’s Pagespeed test are warning about are when members are using Google’s own products like Adwords. So! There is no sense shooting for a perfect score… but the closer we could get, we knew we would be giving our members and their customers the best experience possible.

Latest Update

This latest release includes:

  • Asynchronous font loading (so we can keep our beautiful custom fonts without the penalty)
  • A new custom build process to reduce the use of separate JS & CSS files
  • Further mobile optimizations to make sure we are serving optimal image sizes in more places on mobile devices
  • A custom jQuery implementation to allow for the use of custom jQuery Javascript on your site without any delay in page load speed

The results

For our base sites, this netted an average Mobile Pagespeed scores increase of 26 points, up to 88/100.

And their average Desktop Pagespeed score increase of 15 points, up to 91.5/100.

These scores are fun to look at, but does this translate to more leads? Yeah, probably! We will need to continue to measure over the long term… but it is commonly accepted that a faster website has less risk of visitors on slow connections becoming frustrated and leaving without a conversion, and if Google starts factoring these sores into their ranking algorithm – we’re ready!

What’s Next?

We’re always looking at what’s next and will continue to monitor and improve our systems and service to keep things fast and modern. We’re finishing out our 2018 product roadmap right now and can’t wait to share even more improvements and new features in the future!

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6 Responses to “[Product Update] Member Site Optimizations”

  1. tylerweinrich

    Great work! I ran my site through the Google test earlier this week by chance and thought the results were better than last time. I think this is a great improvement and update.

    Is it possible to add an SSL certificate to a site so it delivers as https? With you all hosting that on your servers (rented or owned), is that possible?

    Reply
    • Trevor Mauch Trevor Mauch

      Tyler! Thanks man! Ya we always want to make sure we’re improving things and keeping y’all ahead of the curve. Glad you noticed the boost in performance :-)

      On the SSL side of things…. be on the lookout for an announcement in the not too distant future :-)

      Reply
      • Laurel Sagen Laurel Sagen

        Hi Trevor. Maybe I missed the SSL announcement, but can you send me information on what I need to do with our 4 oncarrot websites and getting their SSL certs? Thank You!
        …and thank you Trevor for the question on this subject.

        Reply
        • Trevor Mauch Trevor Mauch

          Hey Laurel! Yep here’s the blog post we put out last week on the SSL announcement.

          https://oncarrot.com/blog/ssl-announcement/

          It will take you literally a few seconds per site to activate it on existing sites and any new site anyone launches SSL is automatically setup on those.

          Enjoy! Let us know if we can help you with any of it!

          – T

          Reply
  2. stevenwilson1

    Whatever you said – sounds good. I am happy that you continue to improve my website. I feel confident that you have our best interest in using the cost of our website to make improvements that directly benefit us. Thanks for being a good service provider.
    Don

    Reply
    • Trevor Mauch Trevor Mauch

      Steven! Man that means a lot. We just want you to focus on doing what you do best and trust the system you’re using in your business is improving for you while you sleep :-)

      Thank you!

      Reply

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