Archive for the ‘Programming’ Category

Causes and Solutions for Slow Websites

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Does it take forever to load pages on your site?  Does it feel so much like you’re on dial-up that you can almost hear the modem noise?  In case you forgot (or you’re too young to remember), here it is:

There are a number of reasons your website could be running slow, even if you’re on a high-speed internet connection.

Slow Server

This is something you’ll have to discuss with your hosting company.  There are a lot of different reasons that a server can be slow, but there’s not much you can do about it if you’re not a server admin.  In the interest of brevity, I’ll just say that if the server is the issue and your hosting company can’t do anything about it, it might be time to search for a new website hosting company.

Large Files

In particular, I’m talking about images.  I’ve probably seen hundreds of websites where someone uploads a full-size digital image and then uses the image properties to shrink it down.  Sure, the image only takes up 300 x 200 pixels on the screen, but it’s actually a 3000 x 2000 pixel image scrunched down to that size.  Unless you change the size of the before you upload it, it’s still, in reality, a really big picture, and a big, full-quality picture is always going to take a lot longer to load than one that has been optimized for the web.  And when you try to create your own photo gallery of images that haven’t been optimized for the web, you’ll definitely feel like you’re back in the dial-up age.  Besides, a scrunched-up image looks terrible compared to one that has been properly optimized.

There are a few of options you can use for resizing a picture prior to uploading it.  There are lots of programs out there, such as Photoshop, GIMP and even MS Paint that easily take care of resizing picture.  There are lots of websites out there too.  Just do a search for image resizing and you’ll find plenty of them.

Another option is to see if your web designer can install a program that will resize the images for you automatically when you upload them.  For example, if you use our ecommerce solutions and upload a category or product image, we can set the parameters of the uploader to set the image to a specified height and/or width.

While I’ve mainly focused on images here, you could have the same issue with any sort of media such as Flash, music or videos.  Remember that the web, as nice as some things look on it, is geared (at least for now) towards low resolution.  For example, a client of ours recently sent me an audio file of a radio commercial she wanted to play on her homepage.  I noticed the large file size, re-sampled it to a lower quality and cut down the file size by about 75%.  And you know what?  It still sounded fine on her website.

Just remember that in order for your page to load fast, you’re going to want to make all your files as small as possible while still maintaining an acceptable quality.

Coding

This ties into my last point, to a degree:  The smaller the size of the files on your page, the faster it will load.  By that same token, the smaller your page’s file size, the faster it will load.  You’ll most likely have to talk to your web designer about this, but optimizing your code includes such things as converting the site to CSS, linking to external files (such as one consolidated CSS file and one consolidated javascript file) instead of coding them directly in the page and reducing unnecessary white space in your code.

Of the three suggestions I gave, the one that will usually make the biggest difference is converting a site to CSS.  Now, I don’t want to get into a CSS vs. tables debate, but the fact of the matter is that a site using pure CSS is going to have a lot less code than a site using tables, so it’s going to be faster.

The problem that a webmaster will sometimes run into in telling a client that they need to optimize their code is that a client won’t see a difference in the site, so some website owners are hesitant to shell out the dough necessary for a website coder to spend hours on updating their site’s guts.  Cleaning code isn’t sexy, but it can be extremely effective in speeding up a website.

Making sure your site loads quickly will not only make your website visitors happy, but it will make Google happy as well.  Search engines put a premium on sites that are quick to load, so it can also push your website up in search engine rankings.

If you have any questions about how to go about doing some of the things I mentioned above, feel free to leave a comment below, contact us or send us a Tweet.

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Flash vs. HTML5

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

This week a friend contacted me to take a look at a template that was purchased for building a photographer web site. He had purchased was a site template built in Flash. Not an HTML site with a Flash plugin, but a 100% Flash design. He wanted to know if I could advise him on how to make some changes to it.

My response was he would need the original .fla file that should be with the template that was purchased. Then he would need Adobe Flash in at minimum the version of Flash the template was built in to edit it. His site, as it is now, has very little chance of showing up in Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines for anything other than a search for the domain name, and perhaps the company name if he can get that in the Title tag. After years of trying, Google (and others) still cannot index Flash sites so they have no idea what is in the site.

Most of my clients have a need to rank high in search engines, therefor I have very little experience with Flash. Instead, I use HTML5 and AJAX to create the same stunning visual effects you can achieve with Flash. See examples listed at the bottom of this post.

My advice to my friend was if he wants to show up in searches he should build it in HTML5. If he doesn’t care about his ranking then he’s fine with Flash as long as he can afford to get it edited by a Flash developer. CMS for Flash – haven’t seen it!

One more slam on Flash and I’m done. His site is a big black blank on 2,000,000 iPads and over 50,000,000 iPhones/iPods Touches. Blackberry and Android typically only support lightweight Flash plugins. The proper way to build a pure Flash site is to provide an alternative version for mobile devices and other systems that do not support Flash.

The bottom line is the future for web design is HTML5, Flash is dying fast. Do a few Google searches on that subject.

Example sites we have created using non-flash technologies:

ORiEnTspiration Chinese-Inspired Gifts

CMS Imaging

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PHP Variables

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

I am going to start a new series on PHP programming 101. Check back often for new tutorials, ideas, facts and featured functions. If you have any suggestions or questions about anything PHP related don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

The concept of a variable is used to store information that can be used later on. PHP variables are very easy to setup and define; here is the syntax:

$nameOfVariable = Value;

where Value can be any string.

Examples:

$var = ‘Hello World’;
$data = ‘12345’;
$myString = ‘xyz’;

To print a variable out to the webpage, just use the ‘echo’ statement:

echo $var;

According to www.tizag.com, here are some important tips on variable naming conventions:

There are a few rules that you need to follow when choosing a name for your PHP variables.

PHP variables must start with a letter or underscore “_”.
PHP variables may only be comprised of alpha-numeric characters and underscores. a-z, A-Z, 0-9, or _ .
Variables with more than one word should be separated with underscores. $my_variable
Variables with more than one word can also be distinguished with capitalization. $myVariable

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PHP Programmer for small to medium sized projects

Monday, May 4th, 2009

If you have something easy you need done in a jiffy – send me an email. I knock out contact forms, registration forms, data entry forms, etc. pretty quickly. My prices are competitive and reasonable.

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HTML/CSS/PHP online forms for websites

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Impulse codes standard and custom forms online in HTML/CSS/PHP such as:

Mailing list forms
Contact forms
Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Employment Applications
Event registrations
Online order forms
Party invites
Lead generation forms
Bug tracker forms
Opt-in forms
**your form here**
These are just some examples, but we can code anything you have in mind.
Call us today if you need help adding a form to your website 910.538.6731 or email us: jonathan [at] impulsewebdesigns.com
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Database driven website design

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Impulse provides database driven web design services for users looking to create a dynamic website. Instead of having static content, a database is the engine that drives a dynamic site so the content stays fresh and updated.

Database driven websites manage date-sensitive information such as events, news and products so that your information is always up to date and relevant.

Contact us today if you are in need of a database driven website.

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Contract Web Programmer North Carolina NC

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I provide contract programming services for North Carolina for web design boutique shops who can’t afford a full time programmer. Maybe you do have a programming staff but they are getting overwhelmed and need some assistance – give us a call!

We program in PHP and Coldfusion – call today to get a free quote on your next project.
910.538.6731
Use our contact form
More info on our programming services.
We program backends, contact forms, advanced search forms and much more!
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Backend PHP Web Programmer

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Impulse Web Solutions offers PHP programming for website backends. Backends are usually set aside for site admins and employees who need special access. Backends are usually custom programmed to suit the needs of the site owner. They can be used to manage site content (CMS), manage an online database, provide sales information and manage employees. These are just a few of the uses of a website backend.

If this sounds like something you need for your website, call us today at 910.538.6731. Tell us how you want your backend to operate and we can customize it any way you want.

Link: Our complete web services page.

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Telecommuting web designer services

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

We provide web design and website programming contract work for small businesses looking to hire a telecommuter.

What is telecommuting? According to Wikipedia:

Telecommutinge-commutinge-workteleworkworking at home (WAH), or working from home (WFH) is a work arrangement in which employees enjoy limited flexibility in working location and hours. In other words, the daily commute to a central place of work is replaced by telecommunication links.

Telecommuting saves gas, time and energy because we are not driving to a central office everyday. If you are in need of a part-time, full-time or contract web master who will work from home, please call us at 910-234-0969, or use our contact form to email us:

http://www.impulsewebdesigns.com/website+quote+form.php

We provide telecommuting services to the following states: NC, SC, VA, TN.

Link: Our web services

Link: Our web design portfolio

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HTML/CSS coder for web designers

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Are you a web designer but know nothing about HTML or CSS? Let us help you get your web design to the web.

You deliver your website design to us in either PSD or PNG (Fireworks) format and we will slice it up for you into a format usable and visible on the web – namely HTML and/or CSS.

For more information, please use our contact form.

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