REW + imgix

Canada’s leading real estate portal relies on imgix to deliver responsive images for its listings database.

The Customer

Real Estate Wire (REW) is a leading Canadian real estate marketplace that provides active market listings, rentals, new home developments, and agent services. The website attracts 4 million visitors a month and relies on imgix to quickly deliver responsive images for the 100,000 listings in its portal.

A property listing page on REW's website

The Challenge

Images are some of REW’s most important content—the real estate portal must be able to display thousands of listing images and optimize them for different browsers and devices. To achieve this, the development team was running a large number of background transformation jobs to meet image size requirements for the online portal.

As the real estate portal grew and visitor traffic increased, the team began receiving more listings than their jobs could accommodate. Using REW’s proprietary transformation technology, it would take at least one full day to conduct image transformations and publish a new listing. The team wanted to get their publishing time as close to real time as possible while simultaneously increasing the capacity of running jobs. Another key goal for the team was to focus on investing in features that would add value to their user experience rather than maintaining their image infrastructure.

Part of the reason listing images took so long was that every image had to be transformed to meet built-in breakpoint sizes and aspect ratios. REW had to transform raw image files from the MLS system as well as high-definition images provided by developers (who were conducting pre-sales and thus not yet in the MLS system). According to Michael Wu, VP of Software Development,

We had to pre-define the breakpoints for different image sizes. If we had to change the breakpoint or adjust image dimensions, we had to add that logic into the background, then recreate, store, and re-transform those images. It wasn’t an ideal solution, and it wasn’t our core business.

The Solution

Wu’s team considered building a dynamic sizing service themselves, but determined it would be too time-consuming and that they would miss out on key capabilities. For example, they needed the ability to easily adjust image settings like brightness and contrast. They also required face detection to ensure agents pictured on the site would have their images appear correctly within the circular framing function. Wu explained:

The agent-search page on REW's website

We wanted to spend our development time focused on building products in the real estate domain. We want to make sure our consumers and our agents have a better user experience throughout the purchasing or selling of their properties on our site.

REW evaluated multiple image service providers and ultimately selected imgix due to the cost savings of the pricing model. After trying one competitor, REW discovered that their CDN and image transformation costs spiked as traffic to the real estate portal increased.

REW + imgix banner image

The Results

Switching to imgix reduced the team’s monthly costs for image transformation by 70 percent compared to their previous image service provider. REW also experienced faster processing times and is now able to publish new listings within an hour, a 96 percent decrease from their previous timeframe of 24 hours.

Wu’s team is now able to shift their development efforts toward providing products that benefit the many agents, home buyers, and sellers who use REW.

imgix is a great service. Using an image service provider has freed up a lot of our time to focus on building real estate products.

— Michael Wu, VP of Software Development

Small Page Weight

A 70% reduction in monthly costs relating to image transformation.

Fast Image Render

A 96% decrease in processing times, from 24 hours to less than an hour.

Resource Efficiency

Redirected development resources toward building real estate products.

imgix is a real-time image processing service and CDN. Thousands of companies around the world use imgix to deliver the best images at the perfect sizes to their customers.

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