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L.A. Tourism Optimizes Media Rich Site for Online Programming to Support Local Businesses

The City of Los Angeles’ tourism board overcomes demand spikes for its largest event and executes a major CMS version upgrade

Summary

Challenge

  • Image-heavy website for bi-annual dineL.A. program spiked traffic averages by 800 percent
  • Pages with images slowed dramatically, taking as long as 13 seconds to load
  • Preparing the site for upgrade from Drupal 8 to 9 in a matter of months with no downtime
  • Deploy two major initiatives with a small IT team

Approach

  • Use automation tools with Pantheon to perform iterative migration
  • Advanced Global CDN optimizes images at the edge for fast loading rich media sites 
  • Adopt Pantheon’s Dev-Test-Live for faster and consistent development workflows
  • Terminus command lines and CircleCI further streamlined the deployment process
  • Utilize Platinum account, including a dedicated Customer Success Manager (CSM)

Why Pantheon

  • Helps fulfill L.A. Tourism’s mission by providing excellent site visitor experiences
  • Advanced CDN Image Optimization accelerates image delivery and adds resilience
  • Built-in resiliency at the core platform level protects against downtime and data loss
  • Dedicated CSM delivers expert, proactive support to the IT team

Results

  • Website speed index improved by an average of 10 seconds on desktop and mobile
  • CDN Image Optimization enriched image compression by 70%
  • Website maintained performance during 860% spike in daily pageviews
  • Fast-loading images lengthened Time on Page by up to 140% 

Introduction

Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (Los Angeles Tourism) is the official non-profit destination marketing and sales organization for the City of Los Angeles. Through its brand marketing and sales efforts in the U.S. and abroad, Los Angeles Tourism works to inspire travelers to choose Los Angeles for a vacation, meeting or convention and, in turn, advance the city’s economic prosperity. Los Angeles Tourism is the ultimate resource for where to stay, play, shop and meet throughout the L.A. area, from Hollywood and Downtown to the Valley, Westside, South Los Angeles and Beach Cities.

Challenge 

One of L.A. Tourism’s major projects is creating the online guide to L.A.’s bi-annual restaurant week event known as dineL.A. While its primary site at www.discoverlosangeles.com serves as the online portal for Los Angeles Tourism, its sub site at www.dinela.com promotes hundreds of participating local restaurants, and at dineL.A. is one of the largest restaurant week programs in the nation.

However, the website was a victim of its own popularity. Twice a year, for weeks at a time, traffic on the Discover Los Angeles website spiked up by 200 percent. Website performance slowed, resiliency was under fire, and the lean IT team was hard-pressed to keep the rich media website highly available to its global visitors.

“The site was periodically experiencing downtime. Deploying Pantheon helped immensely with its use of dynamically scaled servers, but there wasn’t much we could do to improve the Drupal 7 CMS.”

— Bao Truong, Director of Engineering, L.A Tourism

Approach 

To increase engagement and modernize its site, L.A. Tourism first embarked on a site redesign that featured breathtaking edge-to-edge images of Los Angeles attractions and involved a migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. In deciding to update Drupal, the team adopted an iterative approach — migrating module by module instead of all at once. The team used the Upgrade Status Drupal module to automate as much of the process as possible. During the migration, the team took the opportunity to upgrade accessibility, and their actions were instrumental in helping the site achieve ADA compliance.

To streamline collaboration with their agency, Chapter Three, a Pantheon Strategic Partner, who drove much of the migration to Drupal 8, the team adopted Pantheon’s Dev-Test-Live environments for faster and consistent development workflows. Further, it simplified its processes using the Terminus command-line interface to automate routine tasks. Pantheon integrates smoothly with CircleCI, the team’s favorite Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD) tool, enabling the team to streamline their deployment process.

Its redesigned site quickly proved to be popular with visitors; however, the edge-to-edge format meant slower loading times for some. Working closely with its CSM, L.A. Tourism adopted Image Optimization (IO) via Advanced Global CDN to speed page loading and add resilience for its media-rich website. Adopting this innovative product allowed the team to deliver a fast-loading site without sacrificing performance for visitors.

The team deployed Image Optimization to cache and optimize images on the edge, taking the load off core servers. “Site performance was a problem because of our rich media and big file sizes -- I needed to solve the performance problem fast without compromising our great content. When our CSM told us about Image Optimization, I was immediately interested to learn more,” said Truong.

“Using the Pantheon WebOps platform, Chapter Three was able to quickly iterate with L.A. Tourism to deliver a high-quality site. The WebOps workflow transitioned perfectly into post-launch support iterations. Pantheon helps our developers move faster, iterate more, and deliver higher quality products.”

John Faber, Managing Partner, Chapter Three

Why Pantheon 

Building on a successful track record with Pantheon, when Truong and his team needed more from its website, they turned to Pantheon to deliver fast image handling, a strategic Drupal upgrade path, an agile deployment pipeline to support its developer team, and proactive expert support from a dedicated CSM.

The dedicated CSM worked directly with the team to proactively optimize performance and facilitate dynamic provisioning for dineL.A. “It's great to have the technical guidance of a CSM, especially for smaller teams like ours and for companies that have just a few developers. With Pantheon, whenever we experience knowledge gaps, the Pantheon team is there to fill them,” said Truong.

“It's great to have the technical guidance of a CSM, especially for smaller teams like ours and for companies that have just a few developers. With Pantheon, whenever we experience knowledge gaps, the Pantheon team is there to fill them.”

Bao Truong, Director of Engineering

Results

Pantheon’s cloud-native WebOps platform enabled L.A. Tourism’s modestly sized IT team to accomplish high-priority, complex projects for significant performance and visitor engagement gains. The organization’s restaurant week event, dineL.A., was made even more important due to the global pandemic. Aided by Pantheon’s resilient platform and advanced tools, L.A. Tourism ensured that critical local businesses received visibility and traffic from those looking to support local businesses.

Thanks to Advanced Global CDN with IO, the L.A. Tourism speed index improved by an impressive average of 10 seconds. According to Truong, “Adopting Image Optimization resulted in an amazing performance gain. The image-rich site was super-fast even on mobile. The huge speed improvement meant adopting Advanced Global CDN had real business benefits -- helping us drive traffic and visibility to local businesses.” Specifically, IO provided an impressive 70% improvement in image compression, helping deliver 20.1 TB of image assets requested as 6.11 TB.

Faster image loading and a site redesign on Drupal 9 also improved the viewer experience, subsequently increasing engagement. L.A. Tourism reported a significant uptake in Daily Page Views and Time on Page metrics. The most recent spring dineL.A. campaign saw an 860% spike in daily pageviews compared with the same period in 2020. And one popular article featuring full-screen images of L.A. hiking locations reported more than a 140% increase for Time on Page. 

“The huge speed improvement meant adopting Image Optimization with Advanced Global CDN had real business benefits — helping us drive traffic and visibility to local businesses.”

Bao Truong, Director of Engineering, L.A Tourism

Download the full L.A. Tourism case study here.

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