Archive for the ‘Website Maintenance’ 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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Lead Tracking for Medicare Supplement Website

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Venuecom and Impulse Web Solutions have completed an overhaul of the website turning65nc.com.  Though the site looks almost exactly the same as it did before, major changes have been made on the back end.

The changes were initially brought about because the client wished to be able to track leads coming into the site.  A separate website, medicaresupplementsforless.com, was initially going to be built based off of the the original website, but after some discussion the decision was made to redirect turning65nc.com (which caused confusion for people already over the age of 65, since the website was for them as well) to the newer medicaresupplementsforless.com site.

In addition to adding a way to track leads, the code of the site was updated to be 100% W3C compliant and the design was widened to fit within a 1024 x 768 resolution monitor, which is now much more common than 800 x 600 resolution screens were when the site was initially built.

Since the site was undergoing a major coding overhaul, the opportunity was taken to also connect it to the Venue Editor, Venuecom’s content management system (CMS).  This will gives the client the ability to personally manage most of the content of their website going forward.

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Splash Page Redesign

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Longtime Venuecom client William Poole Designs will soon feature a redesigned splash page based on a mockup sent by the client.  The new splash page will make it quicker and easier for site visitors to reach the most popular pages of the website, as well as featuring an area for the client to add and edit important news  updates and announcements via Venuecom’s content management system.

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Upcoming Website Design Jobs

Friday, June 18th, 2010

It has been a busy week for Impulse Web Solutions and Venue Communications, partner Wilmington, NC web design firms.  Between the two companies we have sent out or are working on sending out proposals for the following web design jobs.

  • Redesign and increase search engine optimization scope of an existing client’s website.  The site is at the top of search engines for its main key phrase, but the client would like to rank high for more search terms.  A secondary goal is to ensure a higher conversion rate by updating the design of the website, which was probably built close to a decade ago.
  • Revamp a website that focuses on providing information about the Myrtle Beach area.  It was originally intended to be a one-page website with some basic information about the company, but they are now ready to flesh it out to make better use of their resources.
  • Redesign a partially-completed website for a local Wilmington, NC shopkeeper.  A site was started for her, but it was never completed, did not accomplish what she wanted to accomplish and is not easy for her to update.  To top all of that off, the client is no longer able to get in contact with her former web designer.  (And that’s why it’s better to use an established web design company instead of the friend of a friend who happens to do  websites.)
  • Copy an existing client’s website, update the code using CSS and make some minor modifications to help them better track leads generated from mass mailing campaigns.

In addition to these web design jobs, we have a few minor to major maintenance jobs lined up for some new and existing clients.  While we’ve been very busy since at least November, this is quite a bit to come all at once.  That fact makes me really glad that we recently expanded our team.  And who knows, maybe all this work is a sign that the economy is turning around.

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