How Zephyr built a blazing-fast CMS and cut support tickets by 75%
- industryContent management systems
- headquartersIndianapolis, USA
Zephyr is a cloud-based content management system built exclusively for web design and marketing agencies. It allows its users to create multiple powerful websites for their clients with ease. Today, there are over 300 websites powered by Zephyr.
The platform is built on Microsoft Azure, and its infrastructure consists of microservices. As an entirely cloud-based solution, Zephyr puts the highest priority on the actual platform’s speed and the speed of deployment of web sites.
Zephyr works in a relatively specific segment: they offer their CMS to web design and marketing agencies only. But regardless of the segment, the CMS market is a high-density one. There are plenty of solutions, from open-source to six-figure enterprise-level platforms. To stand out, Zephyr had to pay close attention to its clients’ needs, including fast deployment and optimal web performance.
Instead of competing on the number of features, Zephyr focused on providing deployment efficiency and enabling their clients to make web design a breeze. They were looking for a technological partner that would ensure ultimate infrastructure performance and speed.
The biggest challenge for Zephyr was images. Proper image handling is a nuanced task, but people who manage websites often don’t know all the fine points. They get the wrong sizing, choose the incorrect formats, and fail to compress images efficiently. For example, they might take large raw photos taken on their digital SLR cameras and post them directly on the website, which dramatically hurts the overall performance.
Zephyr strived to take these struggles away from their end users. They wanted agencies to stop overthinking websites and focus on their core value instead, which would also help Zephyr stand out in the crowded CMS market.
In its early days, Zephyr tried some different CDNs and server buckets, so each server and each website held its own assets. It turned out to be inefficient and not scalable enough, so they decided to go to a distributed system and become a truly cloud-based platform. That’s why they were looking for a CDN partner to help them build a reliable product and scale its growth. The Zephyr team was looking for these four elements:
Since Zephyr was to become a fully cloud-based CMS, having a reliable media handling solution was crucial for its performance.
Mobile devices make up a significant share of the market, so it was essential to be able to automatically create responsive image sets to fit each screen without extra effort.
Zephyr required pre-processing options to be able to edit and manipulate files on the fly. They wanted their CMS to free up their customers from addressing image-related issues, such as size, shape, color, format, etc.
With prior experience working within a web design agency, the Zephyr team had a clear vision of the perfect solution for a purpose-built CMS. Uploadcare met all their requirements and proposed flexible pricing terms, so Zephyr ran with the solution.
Zephyr CMS has a microservice-based infrastructure, meaning it consists of building blocks that handle the specific tasks. Uploadcare works as one of these blocks and covers file uploading, processing, and delivery.
All media assets go to Uploadcare, where they are directed to separate projects linked to client websites.
Uploadcare enables Zephyr to relieve its end users from the need for painful manual image tweaking. The CMS automatically turns all the user-generated media assets into high-quality, lightweight files in the right format. End users don’t even notice this is happening: they upload images, choose the images they want to use, and Uploadcare does the rest on the fly.
Mobile is a huge part of traffic today, so that was a huge area of focus for Zephyr. Thanks to Uploadcare, the CMS automatically serves images that fit any screen: they’re resized automatically and look good on both smartphones and larger devices. Since the images are tailored to each user’s context, it results in an excellent user experience for websites built with Zephyr.
Uploadcare Image CDN automated and streamlined Zephyr’s media pipeline, so the best web performance and file handling practices are built right into the platform. That resulted in:
—Hey, I uploaded this image, and it's breaking my website because it's taking over the homepage/slowing down my site.
Zephyr uses a ticketing system for support to handle customer care. In the early days, almost half of the support tickets for agencies were related to images: wrong sizes, wrong dimensions, slowing down the website, and other problems.
Uploadcare helped Zephyr build a CMS that has guardrails for clients. They programmatically put in best practices for images, so they don’t have to worry about any technical issues or layout sizes. Over four years after implementing Uploadcare as a core feature set of the platform, the flow of the image-related issues dramatically decreased—the team has 50 to 75% less support load.
Having eliminated image issues for themselves, Zephyr also eliminated much of the support load for marketing agencies that use the CMS. They spend significantly less time troubleshooting and explaining to the clients that they need to resize their 6,000 pixel-wide image to be shown on a normal human device. Now, images are something they never have to worry about, and their end users don’t have to worry about them either.
One of the most prominent benefits of using Uploadcare as part of a CMS infrastructure is speedy content delivery. Zephyr made their web pages lose some weight: they scale everything down and resize everything on the fly.
The change was particularly noticeable for mobile website versions: Uploadcare was able to cut over half the weight of pages meant for mobile devices, making everything much faster.
Today, Zephyr’s internal benchmark shows that the CMS-based pages are rendered in less than 200 milliseconds; and right now, they’re under 100 milliseconds on average. Not only does this make Zephyr a super-fast CMS, but it improves the search engine positions of websites built with Zephyr and enhances the overall user experience.
Uploadcare, as implemented in Zephyr CMS, provides better performance and reliability, so Zephyr can easily convey those benefits to their customers, and even their customers’ end users.
Zephyr’s customers also don’t have to handle things like plugins, security, or maintenance because Zephyr is a fully managed cloud platform. Everything is scaled correctly, compressed, and delivered in a snap through a reliable CDN. Web design and marketing agencies appreciate that they no longer have to deal with image-related issues, and it helps Zephyr retain more clients.
Uploadcare is an end-to-end cloud platform that provides a next-gen infrastructure for file handling. It can cover any part of the media pipeline or all of them at once:
- One of the world’s fastest File Uploaders
- Automated secure Smart Storage
- AI-driven Image Transformations Engine
- Proprietary designed Visual Intelligence Algorithms
- Adaptive Delivery solution