Site Speed - How fast is fast enough

Published: 18 May 2012

Its almost a cliche to say that if your site isn’t fast enough, you are losing money on the table. At, we take this to heart though, and it was a design goal for us to build something that is blazingly fast, and that scales well.

When running on the magento platform, one perennial complaint was that the site was slow. Slight increases in traffic would force us to increase our EC2 Capacity, look for newer performance hacks like nginx micro-caching or client side javascript optimisations, and yet, at the end of it, we would have the same problem at hands. There is only so much you can do if you are starting with something like magento .For all its feature richness, magento trades off site speed and performance for flexibility and features.

Fast forward to April. On 5th of April, we launched our home grown e-commerce platform to visitors. On 19th of the same month, we switched our entire backend (Account Management, Order Management, Customer Management & Logistics) to the new platform. It has been a month since, the right time to reflect and see how it went. Here’s what GA reports about our server response time.

Note that the improvement is inspite of reduced hardware capacity (we entirely did away with the extra large instance we used for magento) and increased traffic (currently serving upto 3X more traffic).

If average visit duration is any indication of user engagement, here is how we do on that score with the new platform.

Finally, here is what Alexa has to say. Source: Alexa

For a comparison, here is how our competitors do.

How did we do this? For one, instead of chosing the well trodden paths of java backend + php frontend, we chose node.js, and run on a javascript stack end to end (The async, event driven programming model does make a big difference, and sometimes praying to the Event Loop Gods actually helps). Second, we make a judicious use of caching on the client side. Third - well, we believe we have only scratched the surface, and there are quite a few more tricks down our sleeves, so watch out.

If this sort of things interests you, we are still hiring - write to us at jobs at urbantouch dot com, to work on some of the most cutting edge stuff in web development and scalability.


blog comments powered by Disqus