The wild west of media performance: A Vox story

Performance Images Fonts Ads  -  2016-06-22 -  VelocityConf

A little over a year ago, Vox Media created a dedicated performance team, which immediately set out to make all Vox Media sites as fast as possible—and has since made significant progress. The first day the performance team convened, team members knew they had a few mountains to climb. From that day, the team has worked to measure how to best collect and interpret the performance information it had for all of the Vox Media sites. One year later, the team has made big strides but has still found areas that it needs to improve upon.

Ian Carrico and Jason Ormand discuss what the team has done, how it did it, and what it’s still working on. Ian and Jason start with the big items that the team knew it could improve upon—images and fonts. Both are very large parts of Vox sites (in both importance and size): the team needed to get images sent down the pipe as small as possible, implementing WebP where able, and fonts needed to be sent as asynchronously as possible without hurting UX.

Ian and Jason then go into the difficulties Vox has faced being an ad-based business—in implementation of new performance features and in metrics collection and interpretation. They explain how members of Vox’s performance team embed themselves into various teams to teach and implement best practices, how the team is figuring out how to determine the signal from the noise in its performance testing (both page-based and individual ad testing), and the tools it’s using to do it. Ian and Jason end with a discussion of what the team is working on right now, how it intends on progressing throughout all of Vox’s verticals, and how the leadership of Vox Media is helping the team do just that.

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