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Blog posts
  • A Few Benefits of IT Monitoring

    Networks are an important element of modern day business environments. The failure of a single network or its components results in the failure of communication between employees and customers which may lead to substantial loss in productivity and revenue. This is one of the main reasons why IT monitoring is imperative for businesses to prevent and address certain issues related to networks. To understand more, let's take a look at a few benefits of IT monitoring: Improves Reliability and Performance IT monitoring allows businesses to protect their network systems by proactively tracking issues and problems that could cause harm. Therefore, the prevention of errors and unauthorized intrusion helps enhance the IT system's performance and reliability, thus allowing your business to operate smoothly and efficiently. It also develops a feeling of satisfaction and security that your business operations are being monitored minute-by-minute. Better Record-Keeping IT services provide business with the most advanced set of technologies and software for monitoring networks. As a result, these technologies make it easier for the IT department of your business to compile important information and keep records. Therefore, better record-keeping allows businesses to pinpoint potential problems for immediate correction, thus allowing businesses to work efficiently without having to worry about any network problems or issues. Prevents Business Disruption Let's face it, downtime affects customer experience, business transactions, employee productivity, and most significantly, your business' image and reputation. However, via IT monitoring, you can avoid certain issues and problems before they impact your business. This allows you to prevent business disruption which is crucial for enhancing productivity and ensure rapid and successful deployment of new tools, technologies, and software. Less Demand on IT Personnel You can outsource IT monitoring and reduce the responsibility on your team. However, if you want to cut overall costs, you can choose automated IT monitoring. Under ideal circumstances, the automated monitoring will handle even the most difficult business tasks, thus eliminating the need to hire more IT personnel. Additionally, since the entire system is automated, the overall time saved on monitoring data can be used for other activities to boost business efficiency. Saves You Money Of course, some IT monitoring firms charge a significant sum of money for their services, but consider it an investment. Think about it: how much money you would lose if your network fails without you noticing. Therefore, IT monitoring services can actually save your business money by regularly monitoring organizational operations and helping you detect any problems in your IT systems. Enhanced Productivity All these benefits add up and increase the overall productivity of your business. The constant monitoring of the network also helps keep a check on employee performance and allows IT personnel to retrieve any lost information. However, in order to achieve the benefits mentioned above, it is imperative that you invest in a good and reliable IT monitoring and managing program. With this, you can easily examine business reports and take appropriate steps to improve business productivity. As you can see, there are many benefits of IT monitoring. Therefore, to receive these benefits mentioned above as well, invest in a good IT monitoring solution or program.

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  • The Importance of Server Maintenance

    Every business depends on computers systems to complete transactions through the use of various cloud-based services and software applications. This is one of the main reasons why keeping the server updated and well-maintained is imperative for smooth business operations. Normally, your business network administrative is responsible for server maintenance jobs. However, without a proper plan in place, your organization may suffer costly expenses and loss of business data.That's why in today's article, you will learn about the importance of server maintenance and a few tips on how to keep it running efficiently. Why is Server Repair/Maintenance Important? Server maintenance is important for keeping the computer network of your business running in an optimal and reliable condition. The process involves having regular server diagnostics, updates, and patches installation, to protect all data and your server from crashing. However, in order to do so, businesses are required to create a maintenance plan. An efficient server maintenance plan specifically designed for your business needs can help your organization achieves its goals. But this isn't all. In addition to creating a specialized maintenance plan, you must also take into account how often you should have your server checked and repaired, if necessary. This will help prevent prolonged business downtimes. Additionally, it will also allow you to achieve a rational timetable for implementation. Without it, your business cannot reach the pinnacle of success. Of course, server maintenance can prove costly at times, but you can trim those expenses by outsourcing it to an IT consulting firm or follow these simple monthly tips for server maintenance: How to Maintain Business Server – A Few Tips Check Backup Systems – Every efficient maintenance plan includes creating a backup system or drill for the protection of important business data. Therefore, verify if all your backup systems are working by conduction monthly test recoveries. Enable RAID Alarms – If you are using a RAID system, make sure to enable the error notification system. Keep in mind that RAID systems can only tolerate a single hard drive failure. Therefore, if you miss even a single notification, it can result in a major problem. Check Disk Usage – When it comes to server maintenance, it is important that you do not use your production system as an archival system. Therefore, delete software versions, old logs and emails that are no longer of use. This way, you can keep your system free of old software and limit security issues. Review User Accounts – If your business has recently gone through staff changes, replace old or unauthorized users' access to your system. Keep in mind that storing previous user data and old websites can prove downright risky. Update Your Operating System – Updates for Windows and Linux systems are released on a regular basis. Many of these updates are critical for enhancing overall safety and fix important security issues. If you don't have a management service, consider enabling auto-updates. As you can see, server maintenance is an integral part of every business. Therefore, make sure you follow the tips mentioned above to avoid any costly expenses caused by server failure.

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  • How to Improve Website Speed & Performance - Part 6

    We've reached our final article where all the good stuff is! We're finally going to give you some comprehensive tips to improve website speed and performance for beginners. It's pretty much a fact of life that business websites with exceptional performance and speed figures, plus great conversion rates and low bounce rates have went through a truly professional web development process. This involves hosting their site with a high-quality web hosting service, employing skilled web designers to optimise the front-end and using industry-leading back-end technologies to create a smooth and speedy user experience.For those who haven't optimised their sites from the ground-up can patch up performance loopholes by employing a minimalist design approach and optimising some of the areas we have discussed in previous articles.As well as optimising your business website now, it is essential that you also optimise it for the future too. Online technologies and e-commerce platforms are always changing, which means you will have to develop your website to accommodate changes to online consumer behaviour, website technology, market trends, payment methods and customer expectations. Being left behind in such an ever-changing and lucrative world will result in lost customers, sales and profits in the future.Let's look at the key areas you need to optimise to improve the speed and usability of your business website:Image OptimisationPage load time is affected by the size of images you have on your website. Larger image files take a lot longer to download to the user's browser than smaller image files. In web design, it's a trade-off between using high-quality images that appeal to customers and slowing down your page load times due to the size of the file. High-resolution, large images on web pages are one of the most common reasons for poor website performance. So what can you do to ensure images don't considerably slow down your website?Image format – use unmodified JPEG images for high quality, but for logos or text images use PNG format. Try to keep GIF use to a minimum and try to avoid using TIFF or BMP images altogether.Compression – compression can keep file size low but it can also degrade the quality of the image. A compression rate of around 60% should maintain quality while cutting down on bulkiness.Image size – make sure your images match the size of your website template by altering the width. Ensure images are responsive by fixing the width and height according to browser capabilities.Not too many – don't use excessive amounts of images as this will significantly slow down your website load speeds.Optimise CSS CodeCSS coded websites are optimised to download content from website hosting servers to users' browsers quickly and with images, content and information intact. So for CSS coded websites, reducing file size isn't the only way to speed-optimise your website.Keep it short – reduce code size by using fewer lines of code and less declarations. This will decrease the number of processing cycles needed and thus make it quicker for files to download to customer browsers.Keep it simple – when using CSS there is a tendency to overdo things with hacks/correctional declarations. Keep it simple and avoid adding extra weight to CSS files.Put it in the right place – place CSS code in the head area before any HTML to ensure the code loads your CSS files separately. This will allow CSS content to load a lot quicker and more efficiently.JavaScript, CSS & HTML OptimisationReducing page size and content size isn't the only way too speed up page load times. Cutting down on the amount of client-server requests when loading content to browsers is an important aspect of speed optimisation too. One of the most effective ways to do this is to minimise and compress any unnecessary code in JavaScript, HTML and CSS coding languages.JavaScript files can slow down website performance if file size reaches above 4096 bytes. It's also crucial to minify inline JavaScript and non-cached external files to see an improvement in website speed. Deleting extra spaces and indentations, as well as using all coding space available is essential to cutting down core and front-end file size, allowing pages to load quicker.Removing all unnecessary characters, spaces and code in CSS, HTML and JavaScript ensures network speed can be increased, faster browser download speed is maintained and less HTML requests are generated. This, in turn, increases page load speed and makes the website far smoother from an end-user perspective.Plug-insAlthough functionality and visual attractiveness can be achieved by using plug-ins, the downside is a reduction in performance. Many plug-ins are quite useless and not streamlined for use in business or e-commerce websites. The best advice we can give is to use very compact plug-ins that serve a particular purpose and keep the number of plug-ins and widgets to a bare minimum. Revision ManagementContent Management Systems like WordPress allow you to revise changes to content easily by storing revisions that you can access and reload to the website front-end. However, this function stores extra database entries to the server, taking up much needed space and burdening the server. Deleting revisions or managing database entries will help avoid website under-performance.Optimise DatabasesContent Management Systems and e-commerce sites in particular store content and user information to be accessed at a future date. WordPress stores comments, pages and other data on a single database which can get packed with old and useless data. Managing databases can be tricky, but the main areas that need attention are deleting rubbish data, removing stored content that doesn't need to be saved and ultimately reducing the size of your website databases to help hosting servers download content quickly and effectively.CompressionUncompressed website content can cause websites to be very slow and not a pleasant experience to interact with from an end-user perspective. Slow interaction with uncompressed websites can be caused by using old versions of web browsers, anti-virus software and poor hosting services.Here are some compression tips from Google:Remove extra code and spaces in JavaScript, HTML & CSSBe consistent with HTML & CSS codingUse HTML in lower-caseEnsure correct tag attributes when using HTMLUse attributes in the same orderAlphabetise CSS key value pairsCache ConsiderationsWeb developers can increase page load times by creating cached copies of the website content instead of loading the content every time for every individual web user. A cache is the function which temporarily stores copies of your website content to load static web pages to users directly from the database. When building a website you can allow caching with software add-ons and changing your web hosting configurations.Using cached content and data is a useful way to speed up website load times and improve website performance because the content does not need to be uniquely loaded, but copies can be quickly sourced from the database. Content Delivery NetworksContent Delivery Networks are a network of servers that host cached copies of web page content. The aim of CDN is to increase website performance for global web traffic. Therefore, if your website employs CDN then users requesting information will be sent to the nearest server in the network based on where in the world they are accessing the website.Switch to Quality Website HostingThe lure of cheap website hosting services is hard to resist if you're looking to keep website operational costs low. However, switching to a quality managed service will offer more server space, support services and added security. Managed hosting is popular among small-mid size businesses and individuals hoping to build a strong online presence. Rather than cheap, managed hosting is cost-effective because it will help your website maintain excellent performance and speed.Summary & ConclusionsSo let's summarise the key areas of website optimisation needed to be successful in an e-commerce environment:Keep images small and in the correct format for loading quicklyKeep CSS code short, simple and without overuse of hacksMinify CSS, HTML & JavaScript to reduce code space & unnecessary codeReduce use of complex widgets and plug-insDelete unnecessary database revision entriesOptimise and manage website databasesCompress images and content to avoid large file sizesUse cached content to speed up page loadsEmploy CDN to speed up geographic website loadsUse high-quality managed web hostingOur conclusion is that website speed matters. It may sound simple, but speed and performance are two key aspects of online business success. For e-commerce sites to be successful in a competitive world they need to be able to keep up with changing consumer trends and web technologies that allow users to access products and services in the blink of an eye. Fast websites have lower bounce rates, higher conversion rates and higher levels of customer retention. What all this means, is that customers are more satisfied when web pages load super-fast and are therefore more willing to do business with websites that offer a smooth and speedy user experience.

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  • Website Speed Testing: Some Tips - Part 5

    When analysing online success, many businesses monitor web traffic and search engine rankings to assess how popular their site is with web users. However, this kind of data doesn't really tell you much about how satisfied customers are, how many leave immediately upon arrival or how many users convert into actual buying customers. That's why bounce rates, conversion rates and sales figures are much more useful when monitoring online success. Imagine an e-commerce website with a very low bounce rate, 100,000 unique web visitors and 15% conversion rates but with low search engine rankings and a site with high search engine rankings, the same unique visits but with a tiny 1% conversion rate. Search engine rankings may be high, but customers aren't actually buying much on the site. Which would you rather – popularity or profits?Trying to improve conversion rates on unoptimized websites can be a challenge (not to mention time-consuming and expensive). Even after considerable investment and development on clunky, old-fashioned websites, it may take a lot of time for conversion rates to improve. Improving conversion rates, lowering bounce rates and increasing page rankings can all be a result of speed optimization. And website design and development are essential in identifying front-end problems that can slow down website performance. And like we've said before, speed sells!Testing is the key to understanding the areas of your website which should be altered to make your website as smooth and fast as it needs to be to boost conversion rates and sales.What to TestUnderstanding how each component of website speed performance works and assessing the indicators of slow performance is paramount in addressing speed issues. So what should you test to find the loopholes in your website?Initial Page SpeedIf your website has a lot of additional images, graphics and content, then page load times are going to be slower than if your website contains only pertinent information and simple content. Websites that contain vast amounts of memory and code to be downloaded within seconds of users accessing the site will need considerable alteration and optimization to load in under 5 seconds.Initial page speed can be tested by monitoring Time to First Byte (TTFB) and Ping requests from your website servers. When you test these aspects of initial page load speed and you find they are taking too long, some alterations will need to be made on the back-end of your website.Full Page Load TimeWebmasters, developers and website owners want to analyse and record the time it takes whole page content to load onto requesting web browsers. This information not only influences web design and development practices but also determines IT strategies and hardware buying decisions that improve website performance. Hardware deployment and optimization for quick website loads is a useful performance indicator and helps website owners understand how web performance adapts in regards to content type, content size, image size, plug-ins, advertising and more.To ensure optimum page performance, developers should cache content in a separate location as well as running secure back-end servers that will help your website load rich-media content. Testing full page load times will allow you to make informed decisions about which IT hardware, content marketing, and speed optimizing technologies to implement.Geographic ConsiderationsIn a global capitalist economy the goal of any expanding e-commerce business is to reach different markets on a global scale. Global reach is not always effective online due to restrictions that decrease client-server communication. Bandwidth changes, government restrictions and technology can limit website performance and speed across different geographic locations. You can combat this by testing speed, visibility, and accessibility across varying locations to identify your website performance results.Load ToleranceWeb traffic can vary depending on the time of day, the time of year or whether your business is running a promotion. Website servers that are accustomed to handling normal levels of web traffic at optimum performance can slow down due to large amounts of web traffic or loads. Important tests to try out on your website are load tests, performance tests, ramp tests and stress tests. These tests can help you evaluate how much traffic is flowing into your website and how many users your website can reasonably handle before performance diminishes. The results will highlight any hardware upgrades or software alterations your website needs when usage patterns and loads increase.Web Server CPU loadAlthough it may not be something website owners themselves would tackle, web server CPU load times should be tested by IT specialists to ensure back-end hardware systems are capable of handling increased web traffic. Website performance issues can happen when there is insufficient server power to handle download requests effectively. Web hosting companies or IT staff should monitor CPU load times on locally-hosted websites to ensure the server can deal with spiking levels of web traffic.Website DatabasesFor e-commerce sites that host a lot of product descriptions, catalogues and dynamic content, database performance is paramount to overall website performance. Many e-commerce sites use databases to store back-end data such as member log-ins, passwords, users, transactions and orders, so for this data to be accurate and easily accessed, well-maintained databases are often used. Testing the functionality of website databases is essential to ensuring inaccurate data isn't transmitted or that data isn't lost from the back-end. Poorly maintained databases can slow down website performance or even lead to crashes.How to Test your Website's PerformanceThere are many web development companies on the market that specialise in website performance testing, although these services can be quite expensive. There are also many premium and free testing tools that analyse your website pages, speed and load times which help you find custom solutions to any performance issues they identify.Google and Yahoo have bespoke page speed testing technologies that offer insight into website speed performance and ways you can optimize your site. Pingdom is a useful free website monitoring tool that explains your website performance and offers optimization suggestions in helpful, jargon-free language.Google, Yahoo, Pingdom, GTMetrix, Gomez Networks and other similar tools use a variety of browsers and geographic locations to load your website in a way that end-users would and then replicate the user experience. Any bottlenecks are reported across the web pages and certain elements are checked, including load time, request delays, file size and response times.The tools will suggest various methods to increase website performance, for example, if your website contains large uncompressed images the tool will suggest measures to compress the large file. They may also suggest removing affiliate code or other plug-ins that are making your website sluggish. Although these tools can't eliminate website issues for you, they can help you identify issues and empower you to take action when you spot performance bottlenecks.

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  • ​Common Mistakes that Ruin Website Performance - Part 4

    The e-commerce world is a competitive environment where only the most skilled and optimised business websites can thrive. You could have the fanciest website, built by the best developers in town, and still human error could ruin your website's performance in the online marketplace. There are important web design and development elements – instrumental in load times and website speed – that even the most seasoned webmasters overlook. High-performing, optimised websites feature a balancing act of functions, design aspects and development tools that you need to get just right in order to be a successful online business.As we've discussed before, there seems to be a disconnect between the human brain, which requires information to be delivered to the sensory/visual part of the brain, and average website load times of around 5 seconds. We want information in 2 seconds, but we usually get it in 5. So, the longer it takes your website to load, the more dissatisfied customers become with your business website. That's why website speed optimisation needs to be a top priority when building your website. And contrary to popular belief, this does not mean waiting until your website is completely finished and then adding on a few technologies that help speed up your site; it's about implementing speed optimisation across all stages of your website build, from start to finish.That's not to say that a few tweaks and add-ons won't help your website speed up; these development tools will reduce page load times, but not in a huge way. Just remember, with every second of delay from the expected page load time of under 2 seconds, conversion rates decrease by 7%.Here's some common mistakes to avoid if you want to increase your website performance:Poor Web HostingWith almost 1 billion websites currently online, and organisations, charities, blogs and hobby websites popping up all the time, it's understandable that the web hosting sphere is overcrowded. The high demand for hosting space means businesses and individuals are all fighting to find a place on the internet – often at the lowest price possible. Cheap web hosting companies offer cost-effective hosting solutions, but this often means sacrificing quality and security in order to slash prices.Cheap web hosts make profit by hosting hundreds of websites and domains on a single, overcrowded Apache stack with low quality servers running thousands of websites all at the same time. What this means, of course, is huge volumes of web traffic, files and data are being transferred via one or two servers. For e-commerce websites this can cause your website to be sluggish with slow page loads, website outages, partly loaded content, crashes and even security breaches. Sound good?Often there is a common assumption that all online consumers have broadband and so website speed optimisation isn't really an issue. Regardless of the speed of broadband being used to access the internet, a consistent web browsing experience is needed to maintain your business reputation. Hosting companies that host thousands of websites on one Apache stack and server aren't committed to quality, speed and security for only your website. If you're using mediocre web hosting services that cause your website to take longer than 3 seconds to load, your website could lose around 40% of potential traffic. And remember, almost 80% of unhappy web visitors would never return to a sluggish e-commerce website!Even though more expensive web hosting services may take a small bite out of your web development budget, quality web hosting services can offer personalised support services, more sophisticated hosting platforms, and considerable service space. Quality web hosts also provide back-up services and speed optimisation that will generate revenue streams due to higher levels of traffic and customer retention.Too many Widgets or Plug-insWidgets and plug-ins allow for easy changes to be made to a website's design and functionality, for example social media buttons, live Twitter feeds, sliders, RSS feeds and more. It can make a website look more attractive and can add useful features quickly and efficiently for business owners perhaps not experts in web development. However, even small widgets can slow down website performance by up to two seconds in some cases. If your website has numerous widgets and plug-ins it could lessen your website performance and speed in a big way.Often it's the quality of the widget or plug-in that matters, rather than the number of add-ons installed. Plug-ins can query huge streams of data to perform complex functions, which should happen off-server and not inside websites themselves. WordPress in particular has built-in plug-ins and widgets that allow designers to change functionality and design aspects of the website. However, using third-party developed widgets and plug-ins can severely slow down page load times.Too many Ads and Affiliate CodeFor many businesses, online advertisements are an important revenue stream and abandoning web ads altogether is not possible if they want to maintain profit levels. However, adding too many advertisements to your desktop or mobile website can seriously decrease website performance. Slow loading ads or a website filled to the brim with adverts can make your website sluggish and can also increase bounce rates. Even if you get income from online ads, this benefit could be outweighed by the financial losses sustained through slow page loads, high bounce rates and unhappy web customers. According to studies, a banner ad on your website can cause 33% speed reductions and pop-up ads can increase bounce rates. Add to that the fact that many customers have ad-blocker software on their systems to stop ads appearing when browsing the web and you have a website that increases page load times and decreases customer satisfaction.So what about affiliate code? Adding code for affiliate businesses or advertising links can take up memory space on your web hosting environment which needs extra processing power to load the content to website users. This means that any additional affiliate code you add to your underlying website code will slow down your website speeds in a similar way to widgets and plug-ins. If you have to use affiliate marketing or advertising on your website, perhaps keep the volume of code to a minimum.Design & Multimedia ConsiderationsModern website design and multimedia content favours large images, video, animation and high-resolution graphics. This type of web design draws in web traffic and creates a professional, sleek look for your business. Branding is important in building customer loyalty and creative web design can assist in customer retention. However, large images, high-quality graphics and videos take much longer to download onto your visitors' browsers. On the other hand, low-quality and small graphics/images tend to load a lot quicker, although they may not be as effective at capturing visitor attention. Do graphics and high-quality images drive sales and conversions more than speed? For e-commerce websites there is a need for products to look visually appealing, but it is generally more effective for sales and customer satisfaction if e-commerce sites load images, product descriptions and video very quickly.There are also compatibility issues to take into consideration. Certain browsers and locations can't load particular multimedia and applications, for example Flash and Google Chrome are often found to be incompatible. Some government restrictions, censorship and geographic regions also restrict content and pages from loading in some circumstances. Poor performance and partially-loaded pages can be a major turn-off for web visitors. It is up to website owners to stay up-to-date on government policies, geographic restrictions and browser compatibility as these factors can change over time.Forms & Analytics codeSign up forms, contact forms and analytics code may only add a few more lines to back-end website core files. However, when too much code takes up space on the back-end as well as plug-in code and web content assets, this can result in lengthy code crowding memory spaces and disrupting processing cycles. Therefore, each plug-in, asset, form, or piece of code starts to act erratically and can use up additional processing cycles. All of this competing data and assets may not necessarily be sent to the user's browser as predicted, causing an inconsistent user experience and added frustration if the added multimedia content isn't delivered properly due to back-end space being used by sign up forms and analytics code. Especially since the users themselves do not actually use or see analytics code. Although analytics code and sign up forms are useful from a marketing perspective, keep in mind that they add weight to media-rich websites and may slow down website performance in the long run.Mobile & MisdirectsAs discussed previously, huge numbers of people currently own smartphones or some other kind of mobile device, a trend that will no doubt continue into the future. It's essential that mobile business websites are speed and user optimised to ensure customer satisfaction and retention, as well as potential profits from mobile sales.If mobile websites are not sufficiently optimised and designed appropriately to offer high performance on a mobile interface then sever delays in mobile page load times may occur. If your business doesn't have a dedicated mobile site, then chances are your desktop site won't render correctly on the smaller screens of mobile devices. This in itself will cause dissatisfaction and frustration for mobile web users. Even when your website does have a specific mobile website built for smartphones, users do not always get redirected to the right mobile website pages.So, if a mobile web user is looking for a particular URL, a redirect will occur when a URL is correctly mapped to a desktop version of the mobile site the user is searching for. Redirects are instructions that send users to that other site containing the same information they have requested via the mobile browser. This means that developers must adequately map mobile and desktop websites to ensure customers find exactly what they are looking for.But as you've probably guessed, redirects cipher through unwanted files until they reach the correct website file, which can cause lags in the correct website actually loading to the user's mobile browser. Website owners could potentially lose customers and competitive advantage when mobile users are constantly redirected to useless desktop versions of websites, instead of loading high-performing mobile websites for those browsing on mobile devices.Other common mistakes that ruin mobile website optimisation are redirect issues, videos that can't play on mobile formats, poorly formatted images, unloadable graphics and irrelevant desktop assets being delivered to mobile web users. These errors will ultimately increase bounce rates and slow down your mobile website.How to Avoid these MistakesAlmost 90% of page load time delays are caused by loading pages, code scripts, parsing HTML, and locating embedded content and assets. Cutting down on plug-ins and widgets, reducing affiliate code and bloated advertising, taking out useless forms and advanced analytics code, and investing in quality web hosting can all make a difference to your site's performance. So too can keeping up-to-date with design and multimedia changes in the industry and ensuring you don't overuse graphics, video, images and all those fancy bells and whistles to the detriment of your website load speeds. Not only that, but script alterations and optimisation tools can assist you in speeding up your site slightly; but what you really need to consider is a ground-up web development and marketing strategy that considers website optimisation as the most crucial aspect of online business success.

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  • Is Mobile Better than Desktop in Website Speed Optimisation terms - Part 3

    Is Mobile Better than Desktop in Website Speed Optimisation terms?Online success depends on businesses embracing everything mobile and ensuring their online presence is optimised for mobile devices. The ownership of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets has increased exponentially in recent years. There are now 1.75 billion people with smartphones alone, meaning almost two billion people around the world use some form of mobile device. That is almost two billion people calling, texting or browsing the internet looking for information or buying products and services. For businesses that refuse to go mobile, not adopting a mobile-centred approach is a serious missed sales opportunity.Desktop PC sales have dropped year-on-year for the last 5–10 years as consumers find new ways to communicate, share and buy while on the move. The social and mobile revolution means that consumers often watch TV while browsing online on their smartphone or tablet; it also means consumers share their lives (and buying choices) with friends, family and strangers online. The age of young people spending the evening on MSN messenger on a desktop PC is over. If all you've got is an unresponsive desktop site and absolutely no mobile site, how is your business going to attract consumers shopping on their smartphones on the bus home from work? Or the business user browsing the web on their tablet in a hotel room? The portability of mobile devices are a crucial factor in their success.But it's not too late to build your business mobile strategy. It's fairly easy for a web developer to make your desktop website responsive for use on tablets and mobiles. However, the key to any successful website, as we've mentioned before, is optimisation. If your mobile site is just as slow as your desktop site, you've missed the point. Your mobile website needs to be smooth, seamless and fluid, with fast load times and a user interface that renders correctly on all screen sizes.Why Go Mobile?Firstly, if you're not going mobile, trust that your competitors will be. 2013 was considered by many to be the year of 'responsive' web design and 2014 is sure to be the year of mobile. Let's look at some statistics:87% of US consumers own a mobile device45% have smartphones in particular90% browse the web via mobile 74% would consider leaving slow websites after 5 seconds of waitingSo what does this all add up to? Well, with all those potential customers using mobile devices on a daily basis, it's in your best interests to mobile-optimise your business website specifically for those users. Without a mobile website, your business is losing out on a huge chunk of potential revenue and sales opportunities.A solid mobile strategy should treat mobile and desktop websites as two separate entities. You don't want any issues with your desktop website to translate to your mobile website. Mobile websites should look and function in a similar way to your desktop site, with slight differences that allow for optimum user experience, functionality and speed. Without these core components of mobile website design, there could be some negative results:Reduced mobile purchases - mobile online consumers have shorter attention spans than when browsing on desktop websites.Losing out to competitors – recent studies have shown that almost 75% of users said they prefer visiting mobile websites that offer high-performing user experience.Diminishing brand value - mobile websites that deliver poor user experience and design reduces your overall brand value and makes users less likely to engage with the business in the future, both on a desktop and mobile platform.The main purpose of mobile websites is to reach customers using mobile devices and mobile internet. Mobile websites can help your business grow its customer base and boost brand awareness; bring in new advertising opportunities; offer convenient and easy to buy services and products; and create dynamic business development opportunities.Mobile and desktop websites use different technologies, user interfaces and form factors, all of which can slow down or speed up website performance. Optimising mobile websites separately allows you to improve these technologies and interfaces to ensure your mobile site is as well-optimised as your desktop site.Not only that, but because of the unique position of mobile websites to deliver web browsing and online shopping while on the go, users are much more in control of their own user experience. Mobile websites need to deliver content and page loads within the two second window to ensure customer loyalty, strong business relationships and potential mobile website sales.Optimisation = High Conversion RatesSince industry data shows that there is enormous volume of internet traffic via mobile devices, mobile website optimisation should be a top priority for e-commerce businesses. That also means that e-commerce businesses will have to satisfy mobile customers' needs to ensure brand value is maintained and revenue opportunities are seized. The key to mobile website optimisation is:Quick page load speed Efficient delivery of website contentWebsite format is user-friendlySmooth navigation and usabilityHigh functioning with minimal visitor inputIf all of this is managed well and delivered effectively then mobile sites can enjoy around 1.2% conversion rates and over 80% of revenue per customer conversion compared to desktop sites. Mobile sites have the capacity to turn mobile visitors into customers and conversion rate statistics show that if your site offers speed and functionality, your business site could enjoy increased revenue and customer retention on both desktop and mobile platforms.Speed is the KeyLarge, well-known businesses can afford to have 5 second page load times due to the fact their brand loyalty is already well-established. For small businesses and new organisations, 5 seconds is enough to put potential customers off your website in favour of one that performs faster. So, does the fastest website win the race, every time?Think about how quickly Google loads search results – it's usually less than 1 second, sometimes even less than half a second. If visitors are accustomed to that speed when finding website search results, don't you think they expect your website to load just as fast? In fact, 16 of the top 100 multi-channel retailers on the web have mobile website load times of 1 second or less. These are the companies who are working with billions of dollars in profits and sales revenues from their mobile websites and customers. It makes sense to try to get your mobile website optimised alongside these big companies – after all, you want to be where the customers - and profits - are going.Tips for Beginner DevelopersIf you're attempting to build a speed-optimised mobile website or employing web developers to make your website as responsive as possible, there are specific areas that should be optimised. Here's where you should draw your attention within your website structure:Fluid gridsFluid grids are adaptive grids that flow naturally within its parent container to adjust pixels and other elements depending on the screen size and device being used to access the site. It is therefore essential that images and content are also able to change size and resolution.DesignDesign elements will have to be altered to accommodate the differing screen sizes of mobile devices. Pinching the screen to zoom into images or tiny navigation on the header are examples of poor functionality that will frustrate mobile users and drive them away from your site. A good web designer will focus on images, description character length, header and navigation layout, footer information and content design and layout to ensure these areas are optimised for mobile platforms.The use of smartphones and tablets is definitely not in decline and will surely only increase in the coming years. As more and more customers desire portability and functionality on mobile websites, e-commerce businesses must be adept at delivering web content on a variety of screen sizes, browsers, operating systems and devices. The aim is to get mobile customers to make informed buying decisions on mobile platforms to ensure sales, conversion rates and customer retention levels are maintained.According to statistics, in 2014 the number of web visits made via mobile devices was twice as many as those made on traditional desktop websites. Double the users means double the sales opportunities and, perhaps, even double the revenue. Don't get left behind!

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