Mystudenthalls.com offers the fastest service in their sector with Cloudflare’s Argo improving performance by over 40%.
Mystudenthalls.com is the UK’s first and most comprehensive student hall search engine, helping students find student accommodation in cities across the UK. Every month, tens of thousands of students use Mystudenthalls.com to search across thousands of listings to pinpoint their future home-away-from-home.
Mystudenthalls’ Challenge: Performance at global scale
Mystudenthalls faced two challenges as the platform expanded and scaled. First, as the platform expanded to international users the Mystudenthalls team wanted to ensure a consistent experience for their new globally dispersed users. “As international traffic continues to grow it’s vital that our overseas users receive the same speed and experience as those based in the UK,” explained Dan Roberts, founder and managing director of Mystudenthalls.com.
Second, as new listings are added to the Mystudenthalls platform, the site is still expected to load extremely quickly while serving more content to more people. Roberts noted “Mystudenthalls is a very image heavy site and our users rightly expect these pages and images to load almost instantly. That begins to be difficult when both the number of users and the number of listings on our platform are growing at such a rapid rate.”
Mystudenthalls’ Solution: An Advanced, High Performance Global Network
Roberts and his team searched the market for a solution to their performance challenges. “We did examine a number of options but the majority could not match Cloudflare’s global coverage nor its additional features,” related Roberts. Now, Mystudenthalls.com is accelerated and optimized through Cloudflare’s Railgun, Argo, CDN, Mirage, and Polish services.
Mystudenthalls uses Cloudflare’s Argo Smart Routing to deliver site content to their users as fast as possible. By leveraging the insights from approximately 25 million Internet properties on Cloudflare’s network, Argo routes Mystudenthalls traffic on the highest performing, least congested pathways available. Mystudenthalls saw a 40% improvement on time-to-first-byte through Argo alone.
With Argo optimizing the routing of Mystudenthalls’ traffic, Cloudflare’s CDN further improves Mystudenthalls’ global performance by caching and serving static content from data centers in 200 cities around the world. By serving content closer to Mystudenthalls’ global users, site load time is dramatically decreased, while Mystudenthalls is saving on bandwidth costs. Plus, by using Railgun Mystudenthalls’ improves the delivery of their dynamic content by only pulling the parts of content that have changed from their origin servers with Cloudflare serving the unchanged parts directly from the cache.
Additionally, Mystudenthalls implemented Cloudflare’s image optimization tools Mirage and Polish to make images load even faster. Roberts stated “Mirage and Polish mean we can make sure that even on a slower connection, the user will be served those image assets at the speed they expect.” Mirage works by storing two versions of an image the cache and then first serving a “virtualized image” (often 1% the size of the original image) until the original image can be loaded, which allows Mystudenthalls to give users full functionality of their site before all assets have completely loaded. Furthermore, Mirage optimizes images for the device they are being viewed on, serving smaller to mobile devices so that they load faster without sacrificing quality. Plus, Polish programmatically optimizes images removing metadata and reducing file size to serve images as quick as possible.