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Social Tap - Case Study

Social Tap Sees Up to 30% Jump in Website Loading Speeds with Cloudways

casestudy-socialtap

In Conversation With

Iain wang ClassBento
Chris Ard
Lead Web Developer

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Introduction

Social Tap is a digital marketing agency that offers digital marketing, branding, design, and development services. The agency was facing quite a few issues with their previous hosting provider.

They finally decided to move away from their previous host after 150 sites went down for over five hours on a Monday! The agency wanted a reliable hosting platform that offers improved speeds and simplicity. They wanted maximum server flexibility and control, and above all, they wanted support.

Their search for a new hosting provider ended when they found Cloudways.

With Cloudways, they got everything they wanted.

Cloudways offers maximum support with migration and server management to Social Tap. We sat down to chat with Chris Ard, the Lead Web Developer at Social Tap, to get better insights into Social Tap’s experience with Cloudways. Here’s what he had to say.

Cloudways: What services does your agency provide and to what kinds of clients? Tell us a bit about your agency.

Chris: We are a team of about 20 and we do digital marketing, branding, graphic design, web design & dev. Social Tap originally focused more on the hospitality and tourism industry in and around Noosaville, but over the last several years, we have expanded to regional Sunshine Coast, Queensland, and even to some international clients in Europe and the US.

At Social Tap we truly value a sense of family – in our team, how we work with our partners, and of course our clients. Everything we do is inherently social, and because we do what we love and love what we do, we consistently achieve work we can be proud of. We create and deliver engaging customer experiences and digital solutions that achieve results. Our USP has to be our commitment to over servicing our clients, often going above and beyond initial requirements and being proactive in problem solving for them (since they often are too busy to think down the track).

Cloudways: How did you first hear about Cloudways? And how did you decide to make the switch to it?

Chris: We decided to move away from our current hosting provider when we encountered recurring issues that just didn’t seem to get fixed. I think the tipping point was when we had over 150 sites down simultaneously for over 5 hours on a Monday. You can probably imagine my day as I walked in the office that morning.

It’s mainly a reliability thing for us since we have hundreds of clients who don’t really want to hear excuses for why their website is down for minutes or even hours at a time. The other issue is that as our clients are more international, we have to have the capability of spinning up servers that serve in that area (e.g. US, Europe, etc).

Cloudways: Before Cloudways, which hosting solution did you use? Are you using any other hosting service currently? If yes, why?

Chris: I’ve used many different service providers and even completely managed my own servers as a web developer/system admin. AWS, Google, Upcloud, a2 Hosting, Bluehost, Dreamhost, Siteground, really anything you can think of. ​

One issue I commonly run into is that all of these providers degrade in quality over time, and increase in server downtime. They up their prices to an unsustainable level once you’re with them for a while. And they do not scale very well with a large number of clients, and have very unsatisfactory support. I can’t think of one time any of those companies has actually solved a support query in which I didn’t end up having to sort the problem myself.

Cloudways: What was your experience like with Cloudways when you first signed up? Please tell us your first impressions.

Chris: I first signed up with Cloudways 3 or so years ago and had a relatively positive experience. At the time, we didn’t quite commit to the system as we experienced some intermittent 500 errors that appeared to occur randomly and were reported via an uptime service we use. That issue appears to have been resolved for some time now and since we have been moving more of our business to Cloudways, the experience has been pretty seamless. ​

One thing that really stands out is the overall speed of our websites, increasing approximately by 20-30%. We particularly notice this with site migrations, where the only variable is literally the hosting and we get this level of performance boost. One thing I really like in particular is Redis object caching and Varnish, which have helped optimise our server load and easily scale our servers to reliably handle multiple clients who use WordPress.

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Cloudways: How has Cloudways contributed to the success of your agency?

Chris: Cloudways has really sped up the deployment of our websites, saved us time on server config and management, and ultimately reduced the amount of time spent on chasing our tails because things aren’t working as they should.

As I’ve been with the company for over 5 years now, I have witnessed the amount of time saved first hand as I was often the developer tasked with resolving these issues. A lot of people think web developers are server admins and that obviously isn’t the case, I just know how to do it well, but would much rather focus on my main duties which is building websites and frameworks that save us time.

Cloudways: Out of the five cloud providers available on Cloudways, which one(s) do you prefer to use and why?

Chris: We’ve really found Linode to be the most reliable service on your platform, along with GCP. The only issue with GCP is that it isn’t cost-efficient, but it has performed very well and been extremely stable. Vultr has been up and down, and although it probably performs the best by a small margin, we’ve had some issues with their uptime which has led us to Linode. Since using them, we often go months at 100% uptime and the performance is excellent – it can net us up to 90%+ scores on Google Lighthouse, with loading on average between 0.5s – 2s.

Cloudways: How do you use Cloudways to solve your client’s problem(s)?

Chris: We can use Cloudways to spin up a new website or server depending on our clients needs. We don’t often use dedicated instances for one single client, but are starting to offer this to clients that can both afford and appreciate the option. Having the ability to offer any of the 5 currently is pretty good too.

Cloudways: Do you think that by switching to Cloudways, you were able to free up resources at your end? If yes, how were you able to utilize those?

Chris: Yes, definitely. I have saved days’ worth of time and been able to focus more on improving other internal procedures at Social Tap, especially more of the money-making ideas.

Cloudways: Could you briefly describe the values you perceive from Cloudways?

Chris: Simplicity and speed. It’s nice to have the flexibility to quasi manage servers and know that Cloudways is handling it at an infrastructure level. Usually, it is either you manage your own server completely or you pay ridiculous rates for managed hosting that isn’t anywhere near as fast as what is provided here. Seeing Cloudways grow over the years, it does appear the company is headed in the right direction, especially as long as the refinements keep on coming.

Cloudways: How do you feel about being one of the members of the Cloudways Agency Partnership Program? What additional value does the program provide to you? Do you think this program is going to help your agency grow in the long run?

Chris: It’s still early days but I think it’s a pretty neat idea in theory. Cooperation in the digital space is key to success and there is more than enough work to go around. We’ve especially noticed that since we’ve grown and think that the potential to acquire high quality clients will be key to further success, not just quantity.

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