Top 5 Factors You Should Consider Before Choosing a Content Delivery Network
Visitors will likely leave your website in a snap if your website loads slowly.
According to data, one in four visitors will abandon a website if it takes more than four seconds to load.
That’s a lot of potential customers you could lose because your web pages load slowly.
Fortunately, you can speed up your website’s load speed and improve its performance with a CDN.
However, not all CDNs are made equal.
Besides looking at the features of a web hosting service, you need to consider the essential factors when choosing a CDN that best fits your needs.
In this guide, we’ll cover the five things you should look into before selecting a CDN.
Let’s get right to it.
Table of Contents
CDN: A quick overview
Before going over the critical factors in choosing a CDN provider, let’s first answer the question, “What is CDN?”
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a group of geographically distributed servers worldwide. It speeds up web content delivery by bringing it closer to where users are.
Data centers use caching, a process of temporarily storing copies of files to allow web users to access content from a browser or web-enabled service faster via the nearest server.
CDNs typically cache content (images, videos, and web pages) in proxy servers near the user’s physical location.
It allows users to do things such as downloading software, streaming movies, posting on social media, etc., without waiting for content to load.
Think of CDNs as ATMs scattered at convenient locations. They make it quick and easy for users to get cash since they won’t need to wait in line at the bank.
Important considerations when selecting a CDN service
Consider the following factors to find the best-fitting CDN service for you.
1.The content you will deliver to users
Various content types require particular solutions.
For instance, videos and photos need more bandwidth than text-based content, and the requirements increases as your content become personalized and dynamic.
If most of your content is static, assess vendors that offer many Points of Presence (PoPs) dedicated to your resources.
Many CDN providers highlight the size of their networks in terms of server numbers or PoPs globally.
However, you need to dig deeper to evaluate how much of the PoP footprint (and the servers) are available for your content.
Bigger isn’t always an advantage for dynamic content, either.
What matters more is the end-to-end connectivity quality, software stack optimization, and the intelligence of the middle mile.
Some CDN services can do a decent job at caching long-tail content or videos locally, which is great if you’re a streaming media company.
If you run an enterprise with premium delivery requirements with business users frequently accessing your website, you’re better off choosing CDNs with an enterprise focus.
Additionally, look for vendors that provide dynamic website acceleration services to speed up your web apps, customer-facing portals, and dynamic and personalized web content.
2. The location of your most important users
Website users should get the same quality experience with your content no matter where they are located.
As such, you need to know which locations have a significant number of your end-users and if the CDN provider has PoPs geographically close to the users’ footprint.
For example, if your end users are spread out globally, opt for a CDN provider with PoPs on all six continents and where business significantly happens.
Consider other factors, such as how well a CDN provider can scale with your business and the additional costs of expanding or upgrading your current service.
3. How well a CDN provider meets your current and future needs
The best CDN solution is the one that can give your money’s worth.
However, this doesn’t mean you go for the cheapest option available.
After all, if you need responsive support or global visibility, for instance, choosing a low-cost option could get expensive in the long run.
The key is to plan and map your current and future needs.
The planning and mapping stage is also a good time to assess whether your potential CDN provider can provide security protection.
For instance, check if the CDN service includes protection against Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks in the package.
Ensure you consider these as part of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Also, assess the opportunity costs of downtime and performance lags from any cause.
Try to look for a provider that can justify your Return on Investment (ROI) in terms of uptime and performance.
Your safest bet is a CDN service that offers 99.99% uptime SLA since anything below this number can be considered an opportunity cost.
4. Support for personalized content delivery
Personalized content delivery has become indispensable to providing an excellent website user experience.
After all, real-time targeting and personalization based on geography, cookies, devices, and behavioral triggers can turn passive visitors into loyal customers and subscribers.
Some common ways to deliver personalized content include providing mobile-responsive web pages.
You should also be able to adjust on the fly based on the device used, subscriber profile, and consumed content.
However, lag times and slow content performance can hinder your website from delivering personalized content seamlessly, ruining the user experience.
That said, ensure your CDN provider supports flexibility and customization, including the network to support that functionality.
5. The ease of working with the CDN provider
Choosing a vendor that offers transparency and is easy to work with is always practical.
However, while your relationship with providers is primarily business-focused, a vendor that only cares about making a sale should be a red flag.
Choose CDN providers that will work with you and help you get what you need.
Research, read reviews, and reach out to potential CDN providers to get a sense of how they treat and work with clients.
A reliable CDN vendor should be willing to discuss your unique requirements. They should treat your problem as a priority and offer a proof of concept you can try before purchasing.
Find the best fitting CDN provider for you
Selecting the perfect CDN vendor can involve a lot of factors, but putting in the work now can save you future heartache and money.
Cover all the bases and consider crucial factors before investing in a CDN solution.
Assess your needs and check whether a potential provider can meet those requirements.
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