Back in 2012, site speed wasn’t a big deal.
Sure, the likes of Google and Amazon cared about it, but on the whole, most website owners didn’t. Mobile hadn’t taken over yet, and people somewhat tolerated slow websites.
That same year, our founding team developed the first version of NitroPack. Back then, NitroPack was a caching solution for the eCommerce platform OpenCart.
This version of the product was a far cry from what we offer today, but it was a vital first step for our company.
Since then, we’ve worked exclusively on solving the speed problem for as many sites as possible.
Again, back in 2012, speed was one of those “nice to have but not mandatory” perks for a website. Or at least that’s what most site owners thought.
In reality, consumers have always cared about speed. Faster has always meant better.
This applies to both physical and online experiences. Longer wait times mean more friction for buyers, leading to fewer sales.
The big boys have talked about this principle since at least 2009. And still, it took years before more people got interested in web performance.
A big part of why people dismissed the speed issue was the lack of ways to solve it. See, if you wanted a fast website a few years ago, you had two options:
Hire a developer to optimize your site.
Cobble together different tools and hope they work.
Hiring a developer is usually pretty expensive. And there aren’t many web performance experts out there. It's also hard to scale as your website grows.
Don’t get me wrong, it's great to have a performance expert on your team, but most businesses either can’t afford it or want their developers to...you know, develop things.
On the other hand, the speed optimization tools that existed back then didn’t do a great job.
First, they were extremely fragmented. Each tool took care of its own little area of speed optimization. You had to get one tool for caching, one for image optimization, one for Critical CSS and so on. Before you knew it, you had eight new tools to monitor and update.
Also, these tools weren’t built for non-technical users. They all required at least basic coding skills, so most website owners had to hire a developer anyway.
Not to mention, most tools weren’t built to work together. This resulted in long and expensive integrations that still didn’t produce great results.
When the options to solve a problem are so limited, people tend to sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away. Regardless of how important the issue actually is.
For example, most people who cared about the environment didn’t drive an electric car before Tesla. It’s not that climate change is a small issue. The options to find and purchase an electric car were just too limited.
But back to site speed.
The people who tried to speed up their site usually ended up extremely frustrated. And who can blame them?
Imagine buying a bunch of tools, hiring developers and reworking your website only to see its Google PageSpeed score go from 20 to 50.
Speed was a massive issue that people weren’t aware of or ignored because the options to fix it were so limited.
This is where NitroPack comes in.
Now, it’s fair to point out that best practices for improving web performance have existed for years.
And as we said, there were some tools already out there, although they were very limited. None of them were good enough to solve the speed problem quickly for a lot of sites.
That’s why we didn’t set out to make just another site speed tool. We started building a new type of product altogether.
This didn’t mean putting a nice UI on top of a bunch of features that people had been using for years. Doing that certainly would have been easier, but it would’ve produced the same mediocre results.
(And it would’ve been a boring engineering challenge.)
Also, new web technologies and APIs were appearing all the time but were underutilized by most sites. We wanted to bring these new technologies to everyone, not just companies with large dev teams that could integrate them.
That’s why we started working in a new direction. We took what worked, discarded what didn’t, and built on top of all the best practices.
For example, here are a few things we decided to do differently:
Being entirely cloud-based;
Including a built-in CDN into the service;
Building a proprietary resource loading mechanism;
Including a complete image optimization feature stack in the service;
Adding advanced caching features like Cache Invalidation and Cache Warmup;
Adding a Free Plan with all of our features that doesn’t expire or require a debit/credit card;
For a technical deep dive on our most important features, check out our article about How NitroPack Works.
Now, almost 10 years after its inception, NitroPack has turned into the complete speed optimization solution for OpenCart, WordPress, WooCommerce, and Magento sites.
Today, NitroPack combines everything you need for a fast website in one service. It works out of the box and is incredibly easy to set up.
There’s no need for coding or installing multiple tools to complement NitroPack. You create an account, connect your site and watch the results.
NitroPack also performs all optimizations in the cloud. This shifts the burden of heavy operations like compression, minification, and image optimization from our customer’s servers to ours.
(For a complete list of everything NitroPack does today, check out our Features page.)
But most importantly, through the years, we’ve received amazing feedback from our customers.
Reviews like this:
Show us that we’re on the right track.
Today, with a few clicks, real people use NitroPack to solve a complex technical problem that directly affects their business.
That’s why, in 2020 alone, the active websites using NitroPack more than tripled.
In the future, we want to continue making the web better. Of course, we can’t do that alone, but we can play our part in it.
Our role is and will be having a real-world impact on the web performance of our customers. This means keeping up to date with all emerging technologies that could benefit them, updating our existing features, and building new ones.
With that out of the way, our customers can direct more of their time and effort to their business.
Bloggers, publishers, and all other content creators can focus on creating and distributing amazing content. Ecommerce stores can focus on building and selling new products. All without worrying about speed ever again.
Or, to put it another way:
We’re passionate about speed, and we’ve taken on the challenge of making NitroPack work reliably in any environment. And even though the current feature set provides awesome results for thousands of customers, we have a lot more on our roadmap.
In the broader sense of things, speed’s importance is also growing exponentially.
In 2018, Google made speed a ranking factor for mobile searches. In 2020, they introduced a new ranking signal (Core Web Vitals), consisting of performance metrics like Largest Contentful Paint and First Input Delay.
More and more case studies are also showing the power of site speed for businesses of all sizes.
At this point, it's clear that speed isn’t a “nice to have” anymore. It’s a must. And we’re committed to providing an easy way to achieve world-class performance on as many websites as possible.
Evgeni writes about site speed and makes sure everything we publish is awesome.