CUSTOMER PROFILE:

Instart showed me how different user perception is from the actual load time. What do we care if it takes 10 seconds to load the full resolution of an image as long the customer can see and do something with it right away? Because it’s software-based, it’s completely flexible. And the entire system is built to optimize by delivering the highest priority content first and allowing users to interact with them as soon as possible.

Eric Marston
DAILYLOOK CTO and co-founder

The Challenge

DAILYLOOK’s traffic and transactions had grown by triple-digits, from $1 million in 2011 to $12 million in 2014. This meant the site was facing massive increases in bandwidth required to deliver its constantly changing image-heavy content to customers each day. “We are in the fashion space so images are everything. Our home page alone is 3.5 megabytes, due to the high resolution images we serve. That’s huge,” says Eric Marston, CTO and co-founder of DAILYLOOK. “As our traffic grew, our image serving needs increased by 100x over what we faced a few years ago. The performance wasn’t what we wanted it to be. Bandwidth costs from our CDN were rising sharply, too.”

As a result, Marston was facing rapidly rising infrastructure bills, particularly as he stared down the oncoming holiday shopping season in the fall of 2014. Marston also noticed that, overall, DAILYLOOK’s response times had become unacceptably slow. “The total page load time, when we looked at it from certain parts of the country or different countries, was way beyond acceptable. It was clearly affecting our conversion rates. We also saw higher bounce rates, in particular on mobile,” says Marston.

Additionally, the company was rolling out a new iPhone app and was looking for ways to accelerate content delivery into the app to improve performance. This is a notoriously difficult problem due to the constraints Apple places on cookie usage, geolocation data and general access to system resources by third-party services. DAILYLOOK wanted:

  • An innovative way to accelerate and optimize image delivery, particularly for mobile
  • Improved performance on key metrics such as conversions, page loads, and Keynote Systems benchmark numbers
  • Reduced infrastructure costs and offloading of compute tasks to an application delivery provider
  • Novel ways to accelerate performance of its native iPhone app

The Solution

DAILYLOOK began to look for a new web and mobile application delivery and content acceleration partner. “We were looking at Akamai and all the usual players. Then we came across Instart Logic, and I saw how completely different their approach was,” says Marston. He was impressed by the differentiated nature of Instart Logic’s Software-Defined Application Delivery technology, with its focus on quality-of-experience optimization rather than hardware, caches and network size. “It wasn’t about getting the biggest network and putting the content on the edge nearest to people. Instart Logic has a whole different philosophy of how to make the entire experience faster.”

In particular, Instart Logic opened Marston’s eyes to the importance of time-to-first-interaction and perceived page performance as opposed to more traditional measures such as complete page load times. “Instart showed me how different user perception is from the actual load time. What do we care if it takes 10 seconds to load the full resolution of an image as long the customer can see and do something with it right away? Because it’s software-based, it’s completely flexible. And the entire system is built to optimize by delivering the highest priority content first and allowing users to interact with them as soon as possible.” says Marston.

At the last minute, Akamai pushed strongly to win DAILYLOOK’s business with their Front-End-Optimization solution. “I was not impressed. I really don’t want to pay for something that rewrites my code. That is way too dangerous. It could break my site,” says Marston “But what really set off flags for me was that they wanted to charge me $18,000 just to implement FEO before I even started paying for the service.I was shocked.

The Result

Marston made the decision to move DAILYLOOK’s traffic over to Instart Logic in June 2014 and began running it through Instart Logic’s PCI compliant environment. “It was very quick to get the implementation up,” says Marston. DAILYLOOK already had a dynamic image resizing capability on its origin servers but the company was among the first beta users of Instart Logic’s revolutionary patent-pending SmartVision image categorization technology.

SmartVision gave DAILYLOOK an immediate 10% to 15% reduction in the bytes of image data for initial interactions, with no appreciable drop in image quality. “We are a fashion company. We don’t want to sacrifice by having an image look pixelated. SmartVision can do it on the fly and the customer can see images that are significantly smaller without ever appearing grainy,” explains Marston, who anticipates that SmartVision will be even more valuable as the iPhone 6 proliferates. This will enable application providers and publishers to put even larger, higher resolution images on their sites to handle the demands of the new, larger Retina displays. For traffic serving over Instart Logic, Marston saw big improvements in key performance metrics. Conversion rates soared by 35% and Keynote Systems benchmark performance numbers rose by 70% to 80%. “It’s gotten to the point where the site comes up so instantly its hard to even know where to go to improve performance further,” says Marston. Even better, the ability of Instart Logic to seamlessly absorb usage spikes that are a normal part of business for DAILYLOOK is yielding benefits in reduced infrastructure costs. “We know we will be able to reduce our cloud hosting spend by upwards of $2,000 per month because of the reduced load due to Instart Logic,” says Marston.

DAILYLOOK also has taken a novel approach to iPhone native app acceleration using Instart Logic’s unique features. By combining Instart Logic’s HTML streaming feature with its InstantLoad on-device cache optimization feature, Marston has been able to cache and deliver very quickly the JSON data that runs DAILYLOOK’s iPhone app. This effectively creates a native app acceleration capability. Say Marston, “Our in-app conversion rate is 20x what our mobile site conversion rate is. We want to put all the traffic we can on our app. So Instart Logic’s performance boost to the app has been insanely valuable. We are going to use the same approach to our iPad app. It’s just been amazing how much of a difference Instart Logic has made to our business.”

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