Unfortunately, photo and video-rich websites can still experience slow load times even when you use strategies to speed up the site such as compression and advanced browser caching. So what can you do to develop a website which incorporates multiple videos and photo galleries without drastically disrupting the user experience? Does a happy trade-off truly exist?
The answer is in the cloud. That’s right, the cloud. When most us think of cloud computing, data backup and security first come to mind. While the cloud does offer these services, did you know there are also options that can help you speed up website load times, especially those which make heavy use of photos and videos? And, the way to do it is surprisingly simple. This article takes a look at some strategies to consider.
Build the website to remotely access video and photo galleries
Did you know you can implement links, code and plug-ins to seamlessly redirect website users to separate video and photo galleries stored in the cloud? This obviously decreases the overall load time of the website since the web browser is able to request content from 2 or more different servers at the same time. And the great news is that for such a great solution, there are various, inexpensive cloud options specifically aimed towards facilitating the building of galleries and storage of videos and photos:
Private Cloud: This is probably the most complicated and expensive cloud option. Private clouds can be established within a company, but they generally require the expertise of an outside professional to set up – thus making the solution quite costly. However, if you have the knowledge and expertise in this area and manage several websites, it might be worth exploring the idea of setting up your own private cloud environment.
Public Cloud: Public cloud providers include commonly used platforms, such as the ever popular Google Drive. Some information technology (IT) companies also offer remote cloud services for clients. Be sure to shop around and specifically look at pricing and security. While it is true that you would not want to break your budget, you also need to ensure to make use of a secure platform. I have seen a website very efficiently incorporate Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) to improve load times. This particular company has an enormous number of videos and photo galleries securely stored on Amazon S3. A simple plug-in allows the website to quickly access this media upon user request. The website still loads quickly because the actual videos and photos are not stored within its pages.
Incorporate a content delivery network (CDN)
Content Delivery Networks (CDN’s) spread your cached files to different servers or data centers throughout the world. Therefore, if a user in London is viewing your website, a CDN in Europe may deliver the content as opposed to your content being delivered from a server in the United States. This would obviously make the website load much faster. CDNs generally deliver cookie-free content, which is always pleasing to the user. Companies such as CloudFlare have a network of data centers across the world. The way CDN companies like CloudFlare works is that as traffic is passing through their data centers, they are able to determine which parts of your website are static and which parts are dynamic. Static portions are then transferred to servers closer to your users, cutting site load times by up to 50%. Of course, there are numerous vendors out there, so always be sure to do your homework and compare services and offerings.
As an added bonus, cloud providers also offer excellent resources to back up website data. This can be important to the UX in the event a website is hacked, spammed, hit with a virus or becomes corrupted. Users are not happy when a website is down. The ability to quickly access “clean” backup files in the cloud means less down time for your website.
So, as you can see, the cloud can be used for more than just file storage. Proper integration of cloud options into your websites can have a significant impact on website load time and also save you lots of headaches should you become victim to a hacker or virus. In a day and age where user experience rules – lots of photos and videos and fast website load times can indeed live in harmony. Indeed, the cloud offers the perfect solution to provide it all without compromising the overall user experience.