• Season:

Ep. 3, Featuring Stuart Feldt from Multiply

The XWP Tonight Show — Season 1, Ep. 3, Featuring Stuart Feldt

In this episode of the XWP Tonight Show, Amit Sion sits down with Stuart Feldt, Director of Engineering at Multiply, about our work on Answers.com. We touch on Google Core Web Vitals, the benefits of AMP, and play a little game we like to call Random Answers.

Transcript:

Amit 

If you have a burning question in this world, my guest tonight will have the answer. That’s because he’s from Answers.com. Please join me in welcoming to the show, from Answers.com, Stuart Feldt, director of engineering. Coming to you live in the virtual WordPress theater, this is the XWP Tonight Show.

Stuart

Hey, Amit, thanks for having me. It’s great to be here tonight.

Amit

When I was a kid in life before the internet, if I couldn’t get the answer to my question in my encyclopedia, I was out of options. But in the last 20 years, people have been able to go to Answers.com to get answers to all their questions. Stu,  Answers.com is such a well known notable site. Please give us some of the cool stats of Answers.com. 

Stuart 

I’m just on the edge there, of experiencing life before the internet. I remember my parents had a big stack of encyclopedias on the bookshelf that I would have to go to and find answers the old fashioned way. All that has changed now.. Some of the cool stats that we have on Answers is, we have close to 100 million questions and answers, which is quite a bit. So most of the questions that you do have, we should be able to find an answer for you. We get 10s of millions of bot crawls per day, which is an incredible number. We actually have more bot crawls than we have users on the site at any given time. We have 10s of 1000s of daily engagements through answering, asking questions, people reacting to answers and questions, voting, and commenting. For our traffic, it’s very, very seasonal. You can kind of tell when schools are out of session, when business hours are on, and when people go to lunch. We’ve seen some impacts to our daily traffic patterns from COVID. We can kind of see that people are waking up later in the day and  taking longer lunches. And we can kind of see when certain schools and school groups are starting their school years. 

Amit

That’s really interesting. So for a site that has that sort of engagement, you want it to be fast and easy to use. Is that part of the reason why you reached out to XWP?

Stuart

Yeah, so we had done some business together with XWP, some some consulting work when we were doing WordPress, and we already had a relationship and rapport with XWP, and we trusted them very much. XRP seems like a source of authority on a lot of internet technologies that we use. It was a very complete picture of what we needed to do, and one of the suggestions that we got very early on, surrounding web vitals, was to improve our FID: first input delay. We were sitting around 1300 milliseconds for FID, and we got down to 25 milliseconds, which is an incredible boost. I personally did not think that we would come anywhere close to that goal, but I was very, very happy to be proven wrong by the team.

Amit

It really is all about performance, core web vitals, and making the site as fast as possible. And that was part of the reason why we integrated AMP into Answers.com. What is it about AMP that really appealed to you for answers.com? 

Stuart

The plan integrated very deeply with our current ad tech, so we didn’t have a diverging code base where we had one set of ad configurations for AMP and one set for web. Everything just kind of meshed very well together. A huge selling point to us was the fact that you didn’t have to rewrite any of our ad stack.

Amit

Speaking more broadly, what was your experience like in working with XWP? 

Stuart

Very, very pleasant. All the engineers that we worked with were extremely knowledgeable on the technology that they used. The team in general integrated very well into our existing processes.

The PR process in particular was extremely thorough, which is very nice to see that the team takes pride in all of their code and takes the extra step just to make sure that everything is checked, everything works correctly, and everything is up to what we, the customer, actually wanted.

And towards the end, the team even contributed an automated testing framework, which we still use, which was not in scope originally for the AMP project, but it kind of shows that working with XWP helped our engineering team kind of come into a better process.

Amit

With the improvements to performance of Answers.com, have you noticed this to have a positive impact on the traffic to the site?

Stuart

Right away, we saw single digit increases in just sessions from Google, which, when you get as much traffic as we do, single digits is huge. We feel that, we noticed that every day. Instantly you see a performance improvement. It feels better. On mobile, it’s just very, very quick, very sleek.

Another web vital CLS, cumulative layout shift, decreased drastically, which

is mainly due to the static nature of AMP. And we do have a lot of traffic from countries that traditionally have very, very bad bandwidth in their internet. And so we were able to dial up our delivery to 100% AMP to those populations, which really gives them a faster, more delightful experience and just helps those populations in general. 

Amit

To close up our show tonight, let’s play a little game called random answers. I’m gonna grab my buzzer, and we’ll ask a random question, and let’s get the answers off of Answers.com.

Why do footprints laid on the moon last for hundreds of years? 

Stuart

I believe that is because there is no atmosphere on the moon, no forces of nature to erode away those footprints.

Amit

Why don’t libraries smell as nice as bookstores?

Stuart

Yeah, I actually saw this one on site the other day. I think it was, as books age, the binding and the glue, ink etc. start to break down and release chemicals in the air. Which is why a library smells like a library. 

Amit

Stu, thank you for Answers.com being a great customer of XWP and thank you for being on the XWP Tonight Show.

Stuart

Absolutely. It was great. Thanks for having me Amit.

Amit

Thank you, and we’ll see you next time.