Content Delivery Network (CDN) services are commonly referred to when discussing website optimization, and speeding up load times. But, what exactly is a CDN, and how can it help boost your site’s usability and improve user experience? In most basic terms, a content delivery network is a system of globally distributed networks that serve up content to users based on their geographic location, speeding up delivery of the content of media exponentially.

In order to understand how this works, imagine a website hosted on one side of the world or country, and a user accessing it from thousands of miles away. The data has to travel through a long series of public network cables and servers before loading on the user’s access point. CDN’s on the other hand, store the media or information in the cloud – with thousands of server farms around the globe, the server nearest the user will be the one to serve up the data, and by doing so, effectively reducing load times for a better user experience.

The use of delivery networks and cloud storage is an essential part of website optimization, especially for media heavy sites or sites that experience heavy traffic. The content delivery network effectively spread the workload over thousands of servers, either by directing the request to the closest server, or to the one with the most capacity at the moment.

Developers and webmasters looking to speed up their sites should consider the use of a CDN service to provide optimal load time, and minimize server overload.