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The client

Sonovate was founded in 2013 as a way to provide embedded finance and payment solutions to the freelance workforce. As the first fintech “unicorn” in Wales, Sonovate initially started as a challenge to the banks, and has since grown to become the leading finance platform for funding the future of work, helping businesses of all sizes access and manage their funding requirements through its app or via its API. 

Created to make it easier for businesses and individuals to run and manage their working lives, to date more than 3,300 businesses funded by Sonovate have paid 30,000+ freelancers, contractors, and gig workers over £2.75 billion in over 40 countries.

The challenge 

Led by a philosophy of “smarter pay for the new working world,” the Cardiff-based company aims to be the funding platform for the future of work—a focus that’s proven particularly prescient in recent years as remote roles and the gig economy have rapidly expanded. 

In tandem with that success, Sonovate’s digital marketing strategy has also widened over the years. In 2021, the company began working with us for assistance with SEO and content optimisation. 

What we did 

Once we started exploring their digital footprint, our team discovered that technical performance issues were hindering the site’s success. Although Sonovate had created a beautiful website, its underlying infrastructure wasn’t providing the power and compute resources needed to ensure a seamless user experience. As such, the site was not living up to its potential.

Long server response times were causing pages to load slowly and, given the potential for this issue to go beyond SEO and cause things like site abandonment and lower conversions, we wanted to tackle it immediately.

Time to First Byte (TTFB) – which is a key indicator of page load speed – became a key area of focus. While Google lists a “good” TTFB as 800 milliseconds or less, Sonovate’s site was in need of improvement, showing an average TTFB of 1.7 seconds.

Our team began discussing options with Sonovate, examining the best path for moving the site from its original hosting provider to WP Engine’s platform.

Our team began discussing options and, as the site had been built on WordPress, we moved to a WP Engine staging site to show just how much faster it could be, quickly demonstrating the values for various pages and performance metrics across the site, including TTFB. 

As a WP Engine Agency Partner, our team has access to free staging and development environments, advanced developer tools, and a dedicated team of agency support specialists who work hand-in-hand with agency partners and their clients to ensure the smooth delivery of each and every project. 

We then migrated the previous site over to WP Engine’s platform and pushed it live, with the performance benchmarks we had seen in staging holding up just as well on the production side.

The results 

Post migration, performance improvements to the Sonovate site were immediately apparent, with average TTFB dropping to 90.5 milliseconds—a decrease of more than 95%.

Additional enhancements made by our team improved page speeds even further, providing Sonovate with the high level of performance it requires to deliver a fast, seamless digital experience to its online visitors. 

Additional performance improvements post-migration include: 

  • Avg. Page Load Time (sec) -43.84%
  • Avg. Page Download Time (sec) -76.49%
  • Avg. Server Response Time (sec) -30.70%

“As a fast-growing scale-up, website performance is crucial. Hallam helped us quickly identify speed issues, proactively offered to run a proof of concept and introduced us to WP Engine. We relied on their technical expertise throughout the process. The results have been great, our website speed is back to where it needs to be. The quality and quantity of new business leads has followed.”
– Dania El-Kadi, Head of Marketing at Sonovate


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