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The Daily Meal provides the latest food industry news, recipes, articles and advice on healthy eating as well as food spots overviews.


The Daily Meal is one of the largest culinary sites in the US. It provides the latest food industry news, recipes, articles and advice on healthy eating as well as food spots overviews.


The site has a very high load and the wide audience and the total number of recipes available on site exceed 1.7M. It has the highest engagement in the category: #1 in minutes per visitor, per view and per visit.

To keep the website performing at such a high standard, the team should be knowledgeable and stable.


When we started working on the site back in 2012, our task was to implement simple video player functionality.

After that we joined the permanent team and since then have been providing ongoing support and worked on multiple improvement tasks.


All the work we have done since 2012 can be classified as full-stack development, SEO, ads management, hosting, design and editorial workflow improvements.

Full-stack development: migration from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7, Edamam Nutritional Database Integration, USDA Nutritional Database Integration, Foursquare Search and Venues, Menu Planner, Mailchimp Integration, Integration, Singleplatform Integration, alerting and mailing systems, Whisk integration, сustom a/b testing with results in google analytics, DAM integration with Drupal 6 and then Drupal 7.

SEO: AMP, Google structured data, Facebook instant articles.

Ads management: header Bidding, video Advertisement, Teads integration.

Hosting: content Network scripts, Thumbor integration.

Design: re-design implementation, building a responsive layout for the site.

Editorial workflow: advanced content scheduling, Digital Asset Management (DAM) for Videos.

It should be noted that such high-loaded projects are interesting because the programming goes far beyond the core technology. In addition to the site’s functionality, different systems such as caching systems, CDN, load balancing systems, backup systems, continuous delivery systems, and automated alerting systems have particular importance.


We have achieved 100% uptime of the website. Due to its good quality, is at the top of Google results.
From 2012 till now the number of unique users per month increased from 100K to 2.5M.

Case studies



The Daily meal website has around 30-50M of pageviews, 2-3M unique users in a month on average, ~250GB of image assets and 1.7M+ articles – it is very high-loaded. To provide good speed, uptime, and security, the hosting conditions were being improved constantly. With time, this resulted in overpriced hosting.

Solution & Result

Most of the content on the site is static articles with a lot of assets and ads.

Thus in terms of basic site performance, we concentrated our focus on the proper use of caching, starting from web framework caches and up to CDNs. Caching is expensive and the very performant server is not a necessity, so we moved the site from a customized AWS based platform to Pantheon, that is specialized for Drupal.

To increase the robustness of the website we have built a disaster recovery platform on AWS which copies the site’s infrastructure. It is disabled most of the time and the client is not being charged. When the main hosting fails the client can enable it.

Assets we have moved to a separate specified server working only with assets providing. Unfortunately, all out-of-the-box solutions were expensive, so we have provided our own based on open source library Thumbor.

In terms of ads, we have very precisely tuned the way how the ads appear and load on the site, investigated existing ads platforms to choose the fastest and the most money efficient.

As a result, the monthly hosting charge has been decreased by 4 times.

Moreover, the development process has become cheaper and more robust because specialized hosting is now partially responsible for maintaining deployment tools. Now only 2-3 developers are enough to provide ongoing support.

The overall website performance has also increased from 50% to 80% of page load (only HTML) finished in 0.5 seconds or less, and from 20% to 60% full page loads (including scripts, ads, assets, and so on) finished in 7 seconds or less.



There are cases when a release can cause minor issues – JavaScript errors, wrong ads display and others. These issues can quickly affect the Google algorithm and the number of users. Moreover, they can also affect user behaviour and conversion. We needed a tool to help us find and solve these issues as quickly as possible.

Solution & Result

We came up with a dashboard that would show the most important metrics. The idea is to be able to know whether the site performs as planned. A dashboard with graphical and tableau representation is built to monitor the metrics.

Given predefined/planned metrics for the site like page views, sessions, conversions (of a various kind – video plays, ad views, scrolls to the site bottom, form submissions) and the set of sections of the site, e.g. Home Page, Video Network, Content Archive landing pages, managers are able to see if site overall or a specific section satisfies, exceeds or does not match the planned values within the picked period of time – e.g. last day, week, month, month to date.

The data is primarily GA but it is also possible to use internal event tracking to see things fast and in one place.

Another use case is to send this data daily and weekly in the form of the email newsletter to the authorized staff members. That data includes a comparison of the data between this week and the previous one (for weekly reports) and between today and the previous day and weekly average (for daily reports).

Having this dashboard helps us to solve the problems of conversion and SEO stabilization.



The editorial team of The Daily Meal is one of its keys to success. There are editors and individual contributors who produce different amounts of content of different topics. The revenue from it varies a lot and is hard to track considering different user behaviour factors.

Solution & Result

The dashboard mentioned in the previous case may also include internal editorial metrics like the number of posted content records split by the editor, by topic with the reference to the number of page views, sessions, conversions they brought. It may be used to monitor editorial performance, the popularity of a specific topic and whether when the topic is “effective”, e.g. 500 articles posted in one category may bring the same number of conversions as 10 in another – that information will be helpful to know what areas of the site editors should focus on.

Having this information in one place helps the editorial team to be more efficient and keep up with the users’ demand for topics.