Choosing the Best Content Delivery Network

Circuit boardEvery webmaster has to be concerned with two main focuses: creating high-quality, compelling content and then delivering that content quickly and consistently to visitors. One way to achieve this is to use a content delivery network, or CDN. How will this help – and how can you choose the best option for your business/website?

A content delivery system is a network of web servers that are dispersed across multiple areas. Data copies are placed on the servers, which can respond to requests based on which server is closer in proximity. While data should move at the speed of light, it still takes longer for it to travel 3,000 kilometers than 20, so the CDN can help put a turbo-booster on your content. Many CDNs have a dozen or more servers, from Amsterdam to Los Angeles to London to Osaka, so they can be nimble and agile.

This is important because even small delays in load times can harm your conversion rate. When you eliminate the delays loading images, scripts, videos, stylesheets, and other elements, you can cut that time. Here are some tips for choosing your CDN:

  • Look for services that focus on content delivery and front-end optimisation (FEO). Front-end elements account for as much as 90 percent of users’ wait time, so it is important that your CDN be able to reduce this and increase speed. Techniques include minification, compression, versioning, and resource consolidation.
  • Consider setup times. This should be minimal, and the cost should be equally minimal.
  • Speaking of price, it will vary based on geography. But gone are the days when CDNs cost thousands. The first computer was purchased for $6800. Today, we can buy computers for £255. It is the same with CDNs. In fact, some, like Amazon CloudFront, charge based on use.
  • Does the CDN offer intelligent routing and redundant networks?
  • Is the content served from their edge servers or yours? The former can reduce bandwidth demands and speed up delivery.
  • Does the CDN offer reporting tools so you can track performance?
  • Some top CDNs to consider: Amazon CloudFront, MaxCDN, CloudFlare, Akamai, and EdgeCast.

CDNs can help you lighten your content load, improve user experience, and keep your content moving in an efficient and effective way.

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