2021 has been a wild year for the speed optimization world.
With Google releasing the page experience update, everyone is suddenly interested in web performance. The Core Web Vitals are the hot new trend, which is awesome since they quantify essential aspects of the user experience.
The growing interest in speed also meant an incredible year for us. NitroPack went from optimizing around 20,000 websites in January to over 90,000 in September. It’s been a crazy ride, and we couldn’t be more grateful to our users.
These action-packed months haven’t left us with a lot of opportunities to reflect. That’s why we wanted to take this time to zoom out and provide a bit more context on where we’re headed.
The following four pillars have been (and will continue to be) our top priorities.
At the start of 2021, we had big problems with providing timely support.
The sudden and unprecedented demand for our service increased the load on our team more than we could have imagined. While unexpected, we still should’ve been better prepared for such explosive growth.
Since then, we’ve made a big commitment to bettering our support in every way:
Our support team has grown almost 5x since January. We hired and trained customer, payment, and technical support experts to resolve all issues quickly;
We added a team overseas to guarantee coverage for users in all time zones;
We redesigned our Help Center and uploaded more content to help users resolve issues without needing our help.
Right now, we’re trending in the right direction. Our users are much happier, as we’ve seen from our internal satisfaction score and external reviews.
Our internal satisfaction score went from less than 70% at the start of 2021 to 91% now;
Between May and September, NitroPack’s Trustpilot rating went from 2.7 to 4.2 stars. Many of the new reviews mention timely, high-quality support.
While this is a promising start, we’re far from done. There are still many opportunities to improve our response and resolution times. That’s why we’re looking to hire even more customer and technical support specialists.
Our goal at NitroPack has always been to improve the user experience via fast load times.
According to the Core Web Vitals Technology Report, compared to popular speed optimization technologies, NitroPack had the highest % of origins passing the Core Web Vitals assessment as of August 2021.
The data for this comparison comes from real users. We believe it’s crucial to also provide similar information (field data) to NitroPack customers inside their Dashboard.
That’s why our next major updates will focus on showcasing NitroPack’s real-world impact, especially in the context of Google’s Core Web Vitals.
We’re testing the new Telemetry report that collects field data (i.e., real-user metrics) and displays it in real-time. The goal is to show users how real people experience their site and help them find performance problems;
Part of our prototypes for the upcoming Telemetry reports.
We’re also redesigning the Dashboard to include more relevant information.
A few of the new widgets that will be present in the updated Dashboard.
We announced part of these updates a few months back. We couldn’t release them as fast as we hoped, but we’ve made big progress since then. Ultimately, we want to make sure that they’re relevant, accurate, and easy to understand before making them publicly available.
Again, one of our goals with these updates is to show NitroPack’s effects on the user experience. However, it’s equally important to spread the word about the importance of measuring speed’s real-world impact.
R&D has always been at the heart of NitroPack. We’re constantly working on something new, and this year is no exception.
Here are a few of our bigger recent projects:
A few weeks back, we released an update to our WordPress plugin. It improved support for cache proxies, resulting in better compatibility with popular hosting providers, like WP Engine, Flywheel, Kinsta, SiteGround, Pagely, and more;
We’re also working on simplifying our optimization modes. Our preset modes help reduce complexity for users, but we believe they can be even simpler. In the near future, we’ll likely remove some old modes that don’t produce great results anymore. We’re also looking to strike a better balance between speed improvements and stability for our default configuration;
Some of our most ambitious projects have to do with our Content Delivery Network (CDN). Currently, we only serve static resources (images, fonts, CSS, and JS) via our CDN. In the near future, we also want to use it to cache and serve HTML. This capability can significantly speed up Time to First Byte and open the doors for other potential improvements. We’re in the very early stages here, but ultimately, that’s where we want to go.
We’ve also started a few initiatives that help us understand and serve our customers better.
First, we ran a large customer survey across all our existing customers. This survey was crucial as it gave us a much better insight into the types of people we’re currently serving and what’s important to them;
Second, we’re currently doing a lot of interviews with NitroPack users. These interviews allow us to see not only how website owners use NitroPack, but also tap into the bigger story of why they need our service and what we can do to create even more value for them;
Finally, we also launched our Speed Insiders program. Members of this program are the first to experience new updates before their public release. This helps us ensure the performance, stability, and effectiveness of new features for everyone using NitroPack.
Going forward, the Speed Insiders community will also be at the core of our R&D work, along with our development team. A massive thank you to everyone who signed up to be a Speed Insider so far!
We’re also working on many other projects, but we don’t want to turn this into a novel. We plan on doing these types of updates more often, so let us know if you find them interesting.
Is there anything else from behind the scenes that you’d like to know? Drop us a line in the comments or our Facebook group.
Evgeni writes about site speed and makes sure everything we publish is awesome.