🚀 Product Update: New search & faster high-res downloads

Live search is here 🍾

Our August Week 1 product update that we share internally with the Crew team, keeping them up to date on the product changes to Unsplash over the past week.

Live search 🐎🔥

As promised last week, we launched the new version of search: a ridiculously fast, live-typing search that adds collections and users to the search results.

Here’s a GIF of it, but better yet, go try it out ⟶

On the frontend, Naoufal Kadhom and Kirill Zakharov did an amazing job making the search experience quick and easy to use. A lot of sites, despite using frameworks like React, can’t get live search to work without being sluggish. Naoufal chose Netflix as a benchmark for how to do search right and I think this hits it 🏌 #perf

On the backend, this uses the new search API built by Charles that returns photos by keyword and location, collections, and users. Over the last week, we also added user boosting, joint primary and secondary tags searching, and a bunch of performance optimizations, getting the average search from 800ms down to under 200ms (results are also cached on our CDN so most searches don’t hit the server, meaning the results render in 100–200ms client-side 🔥).

Faster high-res downloads ⏱

Charles has been working with JPEGMini since January on using their technology to optimize the full resolution downloads. Their new AWS Lambda version of their software was ready recently and they were kind enough to let us use it for free, for the next 12 months.

They’ve developed a special type of compression that allows for huge file-size reductions, without any noticeable quality loss. In our usage we’re finding between 40–60% file-size reductions on the original versions of the photos, which means a ~2x faster download for end users 🔥 and of course, CDN savings for us 💰


Backend work continues on the feed; we shipped some small fixes for mailers and collections pagination, and we added a more explicit twitter username field in the users settings, so that we can continue adding more tweet notifications 🐦


TTU: 4.0M minutes (+4.28% over the same week a month ago)