The Daily Meal is one of the largest food websites in the United States. It offers the latest news from the food industry, a wide array of recipes, informative articles, and guidance on healthy eating. Additionally, it features reviews of dining spots from editors, industry experts, and contributors from the community.
The Daily Meal website consistently receives between 30 to 50 million pageviews per month, with an average of 2.5 million unique users. It boasts an impressive collection of over 250 gigabytes of image assets and hosts more than 1.7 million recipes.
We worked with the Daily Meal for more than 5 years and maintained the website. Shortly after launching the website, we found the need to implement new features. Given the high traffic volume, we prioritized improving hosting infrastructure to enhance speed, maintain maximum uptime, and bolster security. The company’s goal was to attract more users and boost critical website metrics, ultimately improving SEO rankings.
- Location: US
- Product: Website
- Scope of our work: Back-end, Front-end
- Technologies: Drupal 7/6, DAM, Sails.js, Node.js, Apache SOLR, AWS, Akamai, integrations (Foursquare API, Edamam API, USDA API, Wine.com API, Mailchimp)
- Team: 2x Back-end Developer, 2x Front-end Developer, Project Manager
- Timeline: 5+ years
Most of the content on the site consisted of static articles, accompanied by a substantial number of assets and advertisements. Consequently, our primary focus for enhancing basic site performance centered on the effective utilization of caching, starting with web framework caches and extending to Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). Given that a top-tier, high-performance server was not imperative with proper caching in place, we made the decision to migrate the site from a customized AWS-based platform to Pantheon, a platform tailored specifically for Drupal and WordPress.
To fortify the website's resilience, we established a disaster recovery platform on AWS, mirroring the site's infrastructure. This platform remained inactive most of the time, incurring no charges for the client. However, in the event of a main hosting failure, the client could activate it, temporarily replacing the hosting.
For handling assets, we relocated them to a dedicated server designed exclusively for asset delivery. Regrettably, off-the-shelf solutions proved to be costly, prompting us to create our own solution based on the open-source application Thumbor.
In terms of advertisements, we carefully optimized the way ads were loaded and displayed on the site. We conducted a thorough evaluation of existing ad platforms to select the swiftest and most revenue-efficient options, and we continue to actively monitor and support them.
After completing refactoring, we achieved the following outcomes:
- Reduced monthly hosting expenses by 400%.
- Improved the cost-efficiency and reliability of the development process by utilizing specialized hosting to assist in maintaining deployment tools. This streamlined ongoing website support, requiring only 2-3 developers.
- Enhanced overall website performance, with page load times for HTML content improving from 50% to 80% completing in 0.5 seconds or less, and full page loads (including scripts, ads, assets, etc.) improving from 20% to 60% finishing in 7 seconds or less.