5 Ways for Improving the Speed of Your Website

Jessica Kane takes over our blog this month to discuss page speed. Thanks Jessica!

In our world today, everything moves fast, from same-day delivery to instant updates. With extremely high expectations of customers, you do not even have 10 seconds to convince visitors to stay while your website loads. No one wants to spend time waiting for a page when they can just press the back button and go to another site.

The competition is getting fiercer each day and users are demanding for websites to be lightning fast. According to stats, the average load speed of retail sites is more than seven seconds when the ideal load time is three seconds at most. The few second differential costs retailers to lose billions. In fact, a delay of one second in page response can easily lead to seven percent sales reduction.

Page speed has even more implications aside from the loss of revenue and poor user experience. Your website’s slow loading also affects your Google rankings. It’s no longer a matter of wanting to improve your site’s speed; it is a need. The good news is that you can improve your website’s loading times in many ways. The top five ways are listed below:

Start optimizing your database.

Not all sites have databases, but you use one if you have a blog, e-commerce store, or any website with dynamic features, such as internal search. You utilize the database to store information, and unfortunately, it can impact the way your page loads.

One of the best techniques in optimizing your database is to add an index, which can significantly boost your page speed. When indexed, the database can locate information quicker, so it does not have to scan numerous records. Instead, it can narrow down the available data up to at least a few hundred, which aids in returning the data to the page faster than ever.

Reduce HTTP requests.

When the browser fetches a page, picture, or file from a web server, it is a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) request. Yahoo has disclosed that these requests take up to 80% of your site’s load time. Browsers typically limit requests from four to eight connections at the same time for every domain. The more HTTP requests that you have to load for your page, the longer it will take for your site to retrieve each of them. As a result, your load time increases.

To fix this problem, you have several tactics to choose from in decreasing the HTTP requests, including:

Lowering the number of images on your website
Combining multiple JavaScript or CSS files, so they load as one larger file instead
Utilize queries for loading what you only need, such as certain images or a specific script for mobile users
Uniting images that frequently appear on your site using one sprite sheet

You do not have to perform all the methods above but following at least one or two of them can dramatically decrease the time for loading each page.

Reduce the size of your images.

Some sites, including retail, require images, which are helpful in enticing customers to engage with the content and make a purchase. More than 60% of your site’s page weight though comes from the images you have uploaded. While removing them can increase the speed of your website, most of the photos may be necessary for e-commerce, for instance.

You do not have to get rid of the photos because making sure they are appropriately sized can help significantly. A few ways will allow you to accomplish this goal, including using new formats, such as JPEG XR and WebP. These formats allow you to lessen the weight of the images by up to 50%. The best part is that the methods below lower image size without sacrificing their quality:

Use an image editor and reduce the actual size before uploading.
As with above, taking your commonly used images and combining them into CSS sprites minimizes HTTP requests required for downloading the page.
The container property’s max width should not exceed 90% of the boundary width

You can also set the images to auto resize to the maximum width (100%) and have the height set to auto.

Use CDNs

Many of your site’s users are not close to your web server. You can try to spread your content across different servers in various geographic locations, which can reduce the distance but it is too complicated. You need a viable option to implement, which comes in the form of a content delivery network or CDN.

CDNs are a group of web servers that are situated across varying locations. They help in delivering content more efficiently to the users. CDNs are frequently used for files that do not need editing (static content) once they are uploaded.

Companies usually have their own CDN, but most businesses benefit from a CDN provider. If these service providers are out of your budget and perhaps unnecessary, you can still use CND sites that have a library of CSS and JavaScript files and frameworks. These websites can facilitate hosting specific data, so you do not have to host them on your own server. As a result, your load times are much speedier than ever.

Enable caching.

When users visit your site, the elements on your page are stored in their hard drive’s temporary storage or cache. The next time they go to your site, the browser loads the page faster because it does not have to perform another HTTP request as before.

Up to 60% of your site’s visitors have an empty cache. When you enable browser caching, the first page they see will be much quicker because the elements will be stored in their hard drive. Make sure this functionality is activated on your site for improved user experience.

The primary reason why you own a site is to gain traffic and of course, make money. The flashy images and eye-catching buttons may seem trendy, but they can be detrimental. If they cause your visitors to wait more than 10 seconds, you need to optimize your site, so it runs as efficiently as possible.


Jessica Kane is a writer for Every USB, where you can create your very own custom usb drive for your brand or company.

What is AMP and does your website need it?

Jessica Kane takes over our blog this month to discuss AMP. Thanks Jessica!

The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project allows web developers to create smooth, fast-loading web pages. Created by Google in 2015, the original goal of AMP was to improve the experience of browsing the web on a mobile phone. Today, most users interact with AMP through Google search results, although Facebook has also developed a similar platform, known as Instant Articles.

The 3 Components of AMP Pages

AMP can be broken down into three core components: AMP HTML, AMP JS, and AMP Cache.

AMP HTML is basically the normal HTML programming language used by web developers all over the world with a few changes. Namely, AMP HTML adds some restrictions to traditional HTML in an effort to provide a more reliable performance. Additionally, AMP HTML also has its own unique features such as AMP-specific tags that enable unsupported features in browsers.

Much like AMP HTML, the goal of AMP JS is to improve the performance and speed of mobile web browsing. Specifically, AMP JS is focused on rendering web pages as quickly as possible. One of the key areas of optimization for AMJ pages is that AMP JS forces everything on the page to load asynchronously, which means one part of the page that is loading slowly will not slow down other aspects of the page.

Finally, AMP Cache is another key ingredient of the AMP platform that serves cached versions of AMP pages. AMP Cache improves loading speeds and reliability by serving cached versions of web pages that have been pre-validated to load properly to site visitors.

Who Uses AMP?

Due to the heavy use of AMP in Google Search, AMP was able to obtain 7 percent of all traffic to top publishers in the United States by early 2017, roughly a year after the project was officially launched. By May 2017, 900,000 different web domains were publishing AMP pages. The growth of AMP took another major leap in the summer of 2017 when Twitter started to link to AMP pages from their mobile apps.

Any third party is able to integrate in to the AMP platform as long as they comply with the protocol specifications. For example, 30 analytics companies and 120 advertising companies have participated in the AMP Project, building their own features along the way.

AMP has been so successful that even some of Google’s key competitors, such as Bing and Baidu, now link to AMP pages. Other major websites that link to AMP pages include Reddit, LinkedIn, WordPress, Tumblr, eBay, and Pinterest.

One of the key reasons for the massive adoption of AMP by the online publishing world (in addition to fast loading times) is that these types of pages also cut down on the amount of data people use when they’re not connected to a Wi-Fi router. By cutting away a lot of the junk, such as pop-ups, that are associated with the desktop browsing experience, web developers are able to also lower the literal cost of loading a page in terms of the effect on site visitors’ monthly mobile phone bill.

Does Your Website Need AMP?

At this point, AMP has become the way in which web browsing works best on mobile devices. Google has indicated that AMP pages sourced from Google Search results will load in less than one second. Third party reviews from CNBC and Gizmodo have also found large improvements in loading times when compared to traditional web pages.

To give users a user-friendly browsing experience on their mobile devices, especially when they’re visiting a website for the first time, implementing AMP is basically a requirement these days. With AMP, anyone who has their own website for business or personal reasons can be sure no one is going to change their mind about viewing a site while waiting for it to load.


Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who focuses on personal finance and other money matters. She currently writes for Checkworks.com, where you can get personal checks and business checks.

Top Web Design Trends for 2019

Let’s be honest, web design trends are moving much faster than most people would like but at the same time, the world is a much more beautiful place with some of the latest tends out there. It’s true, automation is slowly improving the online world and with unique illustrations and more detail, websites in general are a lot easier on the eye.

But what can we expect in the upcoming year in terms of web design trends?

Let’s take a closer look at the facts and some of the most effective web design trends for 2019:

Top Web Design Trends for 2019


Mobile First and Everything Else Second

Web design is changing at lightening pace and even the word “responsive” can seem a little outdated. Now, that’s not to say responsive no longer matters but simply top point out that websites need to be far more than just responsive to stay relevant and efficient in 2019.

On the other hand, progressive advancement and graceful degradation sound a little more contemporary or up-to-date. More importantly, the comparison between these two give reason for thought in the same way that responsive design did just a few years ago.

As you know, responsive web design simply means that a website will fit the screen and change according to various devices. Needless to say, this improves and simplifies the user experience.

Progressive advancement refers to a process in which the website is designed for lower browsers in a very basic form and then improved upon to make the site more advanced for tablets and PC. Meanwhile, graceful degradation starts by creating an advanced version of the website on desktop and then simplifying this experience for browsers with a lower capability.

However, the problem with graceful degradation is that designers are severely restricted when they start work on the mobile version. After all, they are now stripping down a superior design and creating a simpler version which merely resembles the original without the same functions.

For this reason, mobile first is the way forward in 2019 and the best option for web designers who want to create the ultimate mobile experience and then go about upgrading this even further for desktop.

Chatbots for Interaction and Discreet CTA’s

If you’re like me, you think that artificial intelligence is highly effective and if you listen to Elon Musk, you might even think it’s about to take over the world. Whether AI takes over the world or not, chatbots will be highly important to web design in the upcoming year.

You see, there is now an entire industry dedicated to chatbots and experts predict a market value of $1.3 billion just five years from now. In fact, most major companies and websites are already using chatbots from Facebook and Ebay to a deep black hole called Amazon.

But why are chatbots so important for web design?

Chatbots improve and increase user engagement. If designed the right way, these chatbots are highly effective at retaining customers and providing valuable information without delay. That is to say, conventional customer service is unable to match the speed of chatbots and as long as the information is accurate, most customers care more about receiving this data rather than how it came about.

As if that’s not enough, chatbots are thought to be less intrusive than a standard call-to-action (CTA). After all, most people are tired of the same old prompts to register, signup or buy now and more likely to interact with a useful chatbot through which they can find the most relevant information.

Long Form Content and the Slow Death of Sidebars

When Google released the Medic Update this year, it showed a clear preference for websites with long form content. Interestingly, long form content was often the most confusing and infuriating to read! However, times have changed and as the speed of internet continues to increase, it’s much easier to publish this type of content without it appearing like a slow and cluttered mess.

At the same time, web design can certainly enhance the experience and one way to do this is by using wide pages with less clutter on the screen. Yes, this includes the beloved sidebar and as we move to mobile first, we might be witnessing the slow death of the sidebar completely.

As you know, search rankings are essential for every website and so the importance of simplicity needs to be respected going forward. With this in mind, imagery and infographics are certain to become even more important for long form content and essential for containing a ten-page article within just two or three pages.

Although long form content is usually the product of a writer, web designers will need to respect this trend in 2019 and keep things simplified – especially when it comes to a blog.

Typography for Increased Personality

You might be familiar with Buzzfeed or Mashable and the large typography they use between images. There was a time when large letters and elegant font would have been unacceptable for most websites but opinion has clearly shifted and custom typography is on the rise.

You see, at a time when content is everywhere and saturation is high, typography is now one of the quickest ways to make a web page stand out. It’s true, you need interesting content to capture the reader’s attention but custom fonts can bring even more personality to the words and create a much stronger bond with readers in the process. As if that’s not enough, contrasting fonts can be used for headings and sub-headings and we all know how much Google likes to see a clear and structured set of headings.

In case you might be asking yourself, the likes of Buzzfeed or Mashable are not great examples of this process but for a little inspiration, click here or here or for something more retro – here!

Custom Illustrations for Story-Driven Content

Just a few years ago, Instagram Stories amassed more than 100 million users within a month and more than 300 million monthly users just a few years later. It was the start of a meteoric rise for the platform and pretty much the end of Snapchat. In fact, recent studies show that 45% of professional marketers are now utilizing Instagram as part of the content marketing plan.

But why am I telling you this?

Well, story-driven content was the most successful marketing tactic last year and there’s every reason to suggest this trend will continue. More specifically, an image is worth a thousand words and custom illustrations are the perfect tool for storytelling.

With this in mind, you should see that web design with integrated custom illustrations is far more likely to increase engagement. What’s more, custom illustrations tend to increase dwell time which is highly important for search rankings. In other words, the longer an online user stays on a certain page, the higher Google will rank this page in search results.

At the same time, custom illustrations just look better and while they tend to be more memorable than text, they are often more accurate when it comes to portraying a certain message or identity for the website.

Either way, custom illustrations are already popular and this trend is sure to continue in 2019.

As you can see, web design trends continue to change and there is now a clear preference for function over form. In other words, websites and procedures might look really nice but without the right functionality, they serve as little more than negligent distractions to the average online user.

Is There a Goldmine in Influencer Marketing?

For the love of short stories, I’ll go ahead to say, “yea, there is a goldmine in influencer marketing”. As a matter of fact, it is a relatively untapped goldmine. While the majority of internet business owners are channeling resources into driving traffic from SEO and social media ads, the minority are reaping the rewards of affordable influencer marketing.

You might be asking “what is influencer marketing?” Influencer marketing is a form of digital marketing where internet business owners (mostly those with products to sell) hire highly influential social media users to promote their stuff to their followers or audience. It’s similar to paying an email marketer with a large email list to blast emails about your business his contacts for a fee. Like every other form of internet marketing, you must find a winning strategy to reap the full benefits of influencer marketing.

MOST COMMON FORMS OF INFLUENCER MARKETING

Testimonial Video

Nearly every social media platform allows the upload of multimedia content — including videos. Influencer may upload a testimonial video explaining and narrating a sales-oriented description of product or services being advertised. This strategy works effectively since videos are maybe the most contents out there. The use of testimonial videos is usually the priciest form of influencer marketing.

Shout Outs

This is the most common form of influencer marketing and is often less expensive. All it takes here is a shout out to the product, service, website or social media page of the client. It comes as a text post for Twitter & Facebook, or picture post for Instagram. Shout outs are good for a low budget campaign.

RECOMMENDED STRATEGIES TO ADOPT

Research The Influencer’s Followers/Audience

So much as influencer marketing can guarantee engagement, you do want to make actual sales. If you hire an influencer with followers over 40 years of age and advertise fidget spinners, you’ll get views but maybe zero sales. Age range is just one of many factors to consider; gender, interests and hobbies all count here. An easy way to find this out is looking into the public profile of prospective influencer, his followers probably like what he likes. So, as much as you can, do a quick research into prospective influencer’s followers to see if you are a good fit.

Let the Campaign Run A Little While

This is important if you’re just getting into influencer marketing. Shell out a few bucks to let the campaign run for a while, at least, a week. While you’re at it, be on the lookout for days and hours that sell better than others. This knowledge will come in handy in helping you spend more effectively in the future.

Remember how we started off saying influencer marketing is relatively untapped? It means unlike most opportunities on the internet, there is no sign of saturation yet. It is totally affordable and effective. There’s no harm in exposing your business to an extra source of traffic.

 

Phil Van Hooser

Author, leadership development trainer, and leadership keynote speaker, Phil Van Hooser, came to Design Web with a need for a brand new website which would showcase his keynote addresses and books. Design Web created a great design that funneled people into a path to either purchase the books, or book Phil for an event. We also worked closely with Phil and Susan Van Hooser to make sure that we satisfied all their needs and created a great-looking website for them. If you are looking to funnel your website to create sales and leads, Design Web can help, just like we did with vanhooser.com!

Cheap Websites vs Affordable Websites

At Design Web, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide the most affordable websites in Louisville. That doesn’t however mean the same thing as the cheapest websites in Louisville. What is the difference between a cheap website and an affordable one?

A cheap website is just that – cheap – made from cheap materials with only the most basic functions. You might ask what do you mean by cheap materials? Aren’t websites just a little bit of information online? Well, the short answer is that they are and they aren’t. While your site may be just a few files, it depends on a variety of support items to exist. Hosting for example; hosting is where your website lives. Think of hosting like a storefront you lease for your website, just like a business storefront. Different hosts have different service options. Some hosts offer shared space, which can reduce your cost, but comes at a price. Shared hosting is fine if you have a few good neighbors, but cheap webdesign services tend to overcrowd their hosting with any site that comes along. What does that mean for you? Unfortunately, that means your visitors will get turned away more often.

Another aspect of cheap web development is speed. All it takes to lose sales and valuable clients is 3 seconds. Studies show that if your site doesn’t come up in 3 seconds, you can lose up to 70% of your visitors. Even the most loyal customer will move on to another site or service if they think your site takes forever to load. Why is overcrowded hosting bad? Much like an overcrowded apartment building, an overcrowded hosting provider means you will always be competing for resources, resources like bandwidth. Bandwidth is a lot like parking spaces and road frontage for your business. You only have so much bandwidth to serve your customers before service starts slowing down and space is filled up and people start getting turned away. With overcrowded hosting, you also run the risk of being taken down by any negative site that shares your network/IP neighborhood. Like having a fire in an apartment, the entire building has to be evacuated until the issue is solved. If one site on your shared host gets taken down or attacked, all sites on that server could potentially be taken down. It could be down for a few minutes, or it could be down for days. Once your site goes down there is nothing to do but wait.

Another aspect of cheap websites is what type of underlying CMS or coding that is used. Most businesses do very well working on a Drupal or WordPress website, which are fairly easy to maintain and set up. Cheap websites are typically set up on a Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix platform, which is not beneficial to the client. These websites are poor for SEO, or search engine optimization. This means that you will rank much lower than a similar site built on a professional CMS platform if you go with a drag-and-drop website generator. These sites also charge monthly for their services, sometimes meaning that you pay more over time than you would if you went with a one-time payment for a professional, affordable website. Lastly, these websites never give you ownership of the site. If your third-party site generator suddenly goes bankrupt, you will lose your website. If you decide to move over to another hosting company, you also lose your website as it is non-transferable.

There is a lot to be risked in going with cheap over affordable. At Design Web, we pride ourselves as having the most affordable websites in Louisville. We never cheap out, and the websites that we create are just as good as the big name agencies. We have professional web developers who can match, function-for-function or design-for-design, any website created by the big name agencies, at half the cost. The difference is our low overhead. We don’t have huge art pieces in our lobby, or top-shelf liquor bars in our office. Sorry, that also means no pool tables. What we do offer are the best websites in town at a fraction of the cost. Come find out more about our amazing websites and get a quote today!

SSL Certificates

Have you had a pop up saying “Insecure Connection” or received an email warning saying that Chrome will show security warnings on your website? You need an SSL certificate! You can usually contact your hosting company, and, for a fee, they will install a new SSL certificate for you.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.

The main reason SSL is used is to keep sensitive financial and personal information sent across the Internet encrypted so that only the intended recipient or viewer can understand it. This is important because the information you send on the Internet is passed from computer to computer across the web to get to the final destination server. Any computer between you and the final server can see your credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and other personal information if it is not encrypted with an SSL certificate. When an SSL certificate is used, the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server you are sending the information to. This protects it from hackers and identity thieves.

Installing your SSL is just the start. There may be elements on your website that are insecure and need to be converted over to https. This is a fairly simple process of finding the offending file and changing the location. How can I tell if my site is SSL secured? A simple test can show you. Type in your domain name, but instead of the normal http:// change it to https://
If you receive an error message, then your SSL is not set up properly or you do not have an SSL certificate on your site.

If you think you would like an SSL certificate for your website, and just feel overwhelmed by it, Design Web can usually install your certificate for under $100. Contact us today to get started!

Big Four Bridge Arts Festival

An incredible new art festival is coming to Louisville and Design Web is proud to be a part of it. Our crew at Design Web put together a great website, and our experts are running social media and digital marketing for the festival. We’ve already seen a tremendous response of volunteers, artists, and vendors who are excited to join up for the inaugural event happening on September 8th, 9th, and 10th, 2017.

Louisville Downtown Partnership

Louisville Downtown Partnership brought us on to work with their graphic designer to create a data-heavy website focusing on their mission. We brought together the front-end designs with an easy-to-use backend and created an amazing website. Included in the functionality of the site are regular traffic updates via interactive Google Maps, Downtown Louisville event updates, and up-to-date Louisville News. An easy to access, in-depth library of data was also included on the site for research purposes.

First Friday Hop

The First Friday Hop is an incredibly popular Downtown Louisville event that has been running for almost 20 years. Design Web was brought on to help with social media, SEO, marketing, event organization, and web design and web development for the project. Our very own Jael Roed is responsible for a majority of the work done on the First Friday Hop in 2016, growing the event and increasing attendance through promotions such as Pokemon Hop and Day of the Dead. Our work on the website features high-end user functionality with many add-ons, including a gig calendar, mailing list, member profiles, and other functionality. We look forward to growing the event even more in 2017!