Case Study: Printing for Less

"If you're a potential first-time customer encountering a slow website, you’re much more likely to leave and go to a competitor's site. We wanted our site to retain all those first-time visitors, as well as satisfy our longtime customers. We performed manual performance tuning, but this wasn't an efficient use of our best developers. With automated optimization, Strangeloop took us much farther, much faster than we could have gone on our own."

-- Mark Currence, Network Administrator and Security Analyst, PrintingForLess.com

"Be easy to do business with." This is a core value at PrintingForLess.com (PFL). As the first and leading online commercial printing company in the United States, PFL prides itself on providing unmatched customer service. This service extends to the company’s website, which serves millions of unique visitors a year.

Performance Challenges

PrintingForLess.com is comprised of two separate entities: an HTML-based product section hosted on Apache web servers, plus a robust customer account management portal, supported by a SQL database and hosted on Windows servers. While both PFL and its customers were very happy with the features the website offers, performance lagged well behind functionality. The site loaded quickly for PFL staffers when they were at their desktops, close to the server, but its performance problems became apparent when they travelled and checked out the site while on the road.

PFL’s Web Development team recognized that performance optimization was a crucial next step. The team performed a round of manual optimization, hand-coding the website’s pages to make them as fast as they could with a reasonable amount of effort. But they realized that performance tuning was a neverending task that was not an efficient use of their in-house time and resources. The complexity of optimization demanded the efforts of their best developers – people whose expertise would be better served on other projects.

The Solution

PrintingForLess.com conducted a three-week trial of the Strangeloop Site Optimizer service. PFL conducted an A/B test in which half of the site’s visitors were served the accelerated site and the other half were served the unaccelerated site. The trial was an unqualified success. PFL reported the following highlights:

  • 40% decrease in page load times. The average page load time dropped from 5.6 seconds to 3.4 seconds.
  • Seamless implementation, zero downtime. "The entire implementation has met and exceeded our expectations. The process was completely seamless, with zero downtime. We’re very happy."
  • Superlative customer support. "One of the best pieces of the whole project is the fact that we had one single point of contact at Strangeloop throughout the entire implementation. He was available to us morning, noon and night on weekdays and weekends, and he made us feel very confident and comfortable with the entire process."

 

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