Top 100 university conquers global website downtime by moving to Strattic, improves FCP by 85%

The Rothberg International School at Hebrew University
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About The Rothberg International School at Hebrew University

Hebrew University is one of the top 100 universities in the world, and the Rothberg International School is their program for international students. Today, RIS attracts more than 2,000 students from around the world annually from more than 90 countries.

The challenge: website downtime and unavailability in certain countries

RIS’s website – developed on WordPress – is the main way for potential students around the world to learn about the program and apply to study at Hebrew U. The site contains hundreds of pages with information about academics, student life, finances, and even a shop to order merchandise with the RIS logo.

However RIS had a major problem – their site was experiencing a lot of downtime and was not always available when people from around the world wanted to access it.

“We would get an email saying ‘I would love to apply to your program but I can’t,’ and we’d realize that the site was not available in China, and then another time it was unavailable in South Africa. Once someone said the site wasn’t accessible from anywhere in Asia!” said Yafit Sherer, Vice Provost of Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School. “We were knocked out of the Chinese market for at least three months, and I would estimate that around 20% of our potential candidates were affected by the outages that jumped from country to country.”

Besides the localized inaccessibility of the site, the site also experienced a tremendous amount of global downtime. Yafit estimated that the site would go down at least every six weeks, and sometimes as often as once a month. Downtime is terrible for customer experience, brand reputation, and even affects search engine rankings badly.

“It’s challenging to assure our recruitment partners that we are functioning in a professional manner when our site is not available to convey the information that they need at the time they need it,” Yafit said.

RIS considered various technological solutions, such as creating a dedicated site for China or adjusting the firewall, but none could solve every aspect of the problems they were experiencing in every region.

Strattic to the rescue: smoothly running site, worldwide

RIS also considered switching hosting providers, but after investigating several of the industry’s leading managed WordPress hosting services, they came to the conclusion that it would not overcome the innate challenges of the site. “The solutions we looked at with other hosting providers did not add up to a solution; they weren’t significantly different from what we had already,” Yafit said.

Strattic seemed like a different type of offering, however, and was willing to let them evaluate the solution before making a final decision. Within days, the Strattic team had built a model of the RIS site that their global network could check and verify to make sure the site was accessible and fast before going live.

Fast, reliable site

The site is much faster than it has ever been, and the move to Strattic improved first contentful paint by 85% and largest contentful paint by 72%, without changing a single line of code.

“Everyone says how much faster the site is since we switched to Strattic,” Yafit said.

“And best of all, there hasn’t been a single incident of downtime or people contacting us to say they can’t access the site.”

Easy to update

Publishing new content or updating existing content on the site can be done quickly and easily, since the backend of the site is the same familiar WordPress that the RIS team has been using all along.

Great customer service

Customer service from Strattic has been top notch, according to the RIS team. Strattic’s support is not just reactive, but also proactive “Support is so important to us and I feel like the support we get from Strattic goes so far beyond our expectations – response time is quick, and by knowledgeable WordPress experts,” Yafit said.