Libération is a major French daily newspaper. Its website, www.liberation.fr, gets 20 million visits and 60–80 million page views each month. In 2013, the website became the first among French newspapers to use responsive design technology, meaning its page layout changes depending on whether the website is viewed from a computer or mobile device.
But this technology caused problems with slow page loads, especially on smartphones since the pages for computers first had to be uploaded in full and then adjusted to the size of the smartphone screen. And viewing websites from mobile devices was already a tedious process in places without 3G network coverage. This had an impact on Libération’s SEO as well, since page load times are a factor in search engine rankings.
Libération’s digital technology team, headed by Xavier Grangier, decided to switch from responsive design to dynamic serving – a technology that enables companies to have two websites with the same URL address: one for use on computers and one for use on mobile devices. The team looked into the different solutions available to accelerate dynamic serving, and found that while most CDN companies offered it for a fee, CDNetworks – which had been providing Libération with CDN services since 2008 – offered to provide it with no extra charge. The only change needed was a new configuration. What’s more, Libération was already a satisfied CDNetworks customer: 98% of its website content is managed using CDNetworks’ system and only the remaining 2% is hosted on the newspaper’s own servers.
The new dynamic serving websites were launched in September 2015, with instant results: the website can now be viewed on the Paris subway, the mobile website loads four times faster, and Libération’s website now appears higher in search engine rankings. In fact, CDNetworks’ dynamic serving technology resolves one of the problems with responsive design, in that the latter is too slow for the EDGE network available on the Paris subway. But thanks to dynamic serving, not only is this problem resolved but also Libération’s website – especially its mobile one –ranks higher in Google. All this has led to a 165% jump in website traffic from smartphones.
“CDNetworks’ dynamic serving technology opens new doors for us without increasing our hosting costs. Website maintenance is now much easier and we can change the order in which articles appear depending on whether the website is being viewed on a computer or smartphone. We can also manage advertising differently depending on the type of device, which is extremely useful and perfectly in line with our organisation. The next step will be to adjust the content according to whether the viewer is a subscriber – another benefit that wouldn’t be possible without this technology that CDNetworks executes extremely well,” said Xavier.
Libération was once again pleased with CDNetworks’ service, including its effective technical support and experts who provided value-added assistance and advice at every step of the way.
During the Paris attacks in November 2015, traffic to Libération’s website jumped by a factor of 25 – but thanks to CDNetworks’ technology, the website was able to handle the surge without a glitch. The website had up to 248,000 simultaneous connections rather than the usual 10,000, and it was one of the only news websites that didn’t buckle. However, the website hadn’t undergone any major changes in infrastructure: just some extra RAM on two or three servers. CDNetworks’ advanced content delivery network was able to absorb the additional traffic by spreading it across several servers, and thereby preventing any bottlenecks.