'Apartment Therapy' Increases Page Load Speed To Enhance Usage

Apartment Therapy and its sister site Kitchn produce more than 125 original pieces of content every week, but its images were slow to load and its archive difficult to navigate by its editorial staff.

Migrating to the Cloudinary platform has improved image load speed and the workflow of the sites' editorial teams, Vijay Nathan, director of product, told Publishers Daily.

Each post on the “Apartment Therapy House Tour Galleries” franchise, for example, averages five (and often more than 30) images. For the 12-year-old lifestyle site, “images are the core of what we do and how readers interact with our content and our brand,” Nathan said.

The image browsing experience on Apartment Therapy, called “Project Prism,” launched in mid-2019. Readers can click a “See More Images” button and arrive at an image gallery. Since it launched, users have browsed over 12 million images each month within that experience alone.



“This year, we’re on track to increase that by 50% or more,” Nathan said.

In total, Apartment Therapy receives over 800 million image requests each month.

As the company grew, the team sought to improve the reader experience. “How do we give them an experience that is fast, reliable, easy-to-use and scales with them, regardless of where they are?” Nathan asks.

The team also wanted to improve their internal processes, and “make it easier for staff to work with these images on a day-to-day basis.”

Apartment Therapy integrated a combined content delivery network (CDN) and digital asset management (DAM) solution by migrating its systems to Cloudinary, an SaaS tech company. Apartment Therapy moved its in-house built CMS to WordPress, with proprietary, custom tools built around it, and integrated Cloudinary’s components for its image management experience.

“We migrated over 350,000 images from our old CMS to Cloudinary, including migration of critical metadata like image credits and usage rights,” Nathan said.

Images were immediately delivered with a 10% to 20% reduction in file size, with no loss in perceived image quality.

The interface helps organize Apartment Therapy’s archive of photos and gives editors, freelancers, artists, photographers, graphic designers and videographers the ability to organize, tag, add metadata and image credits to the central repository, he explained.

Editorial teams no longer have to upload, resize, optimize and re-upload the same image multiple times. Cloudinary analytics also allow the team “to see in real time what’s working and what’s not.”

Nathan gives an example: “This image on this page is loading at its original size — so we should compress it to load faster. If [a user] is on a slow connection, we can load a low-quality image first, so they see something, then fully load the image when ready.”

He added: “Every millisecond the page takes to load is a millisecond you might lose a reader. Every second counts. It makes a significant difference in our ability to retain a user.”

ApartmentTherapy.com and TheKitchn.com serve over 74 million pageviews a month in total.


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