5 Ways To Greatly Improve Your Website’s Performance

Quick question. If you navigate to a website and it takes forever to load, what’s your first instinct? Do you stomach the painstakingly-long wait, or do you go back and try to find an alternative.

Chances are good that unless we’re talking about a major social network like Facebook, you’re going with option B. 

There are few things more infuriating than a slow website. And Google recognizes that, too. It’s been a ranking factor on desktop devices since 2010, and on mobile devices since 2018. 

So that means that if you’ve got a slow website, you aren’t just alienating your audience. You’re hurting your position on the search engine results page (SERP). Let’s discuss a few steps you can take to prevent that from happening.

Here are five simple ways to significantly improve your website’s performance.

Avoid Overusing Plugins

One of the biggest advantages of using a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress is access to a vast, diverse library of plugins. There’s a plugin for just about everything, from simple forms and surveys to image galleries to community-driven content. You need to be careful here, though.

It’s very easy to go overboard and install a ton of plugins and utilities that you simply don’t need. Each plugin you add is another layer of complexity, another thing that can go wrong with your site, another potential drain on your resources. Think very carefully before installing anything new, and ask yourself if you absolutely cannot live without it. 

Leverage a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

It’s easy to forget that the Internet is not an abstract concept. It’s grounded in physical infrastructure, web servers, and networking hardware all over the world. When someone tries to access web content, greater physical distance means more latency.

Slower load times, in other words.

Depending on where you’re situated in relation to your web host (and where you both are in relation to your target audience), you may want to consider leveraging a CDN. With a CDN, your website’s content is cached across a large geographical area, on multiple web-servers. When someone connects to your site, the CDN connects them to the nearest possible server, cutting load times considerably.  

Reduce Rich Media

You might be tempted to add a bunch of fancy bells and whistles to your website. Javascript menus. Video banners and animated images. This is ill-advised.

The problem is that rich media assets tend to be incredibly resource-intensive. That means that the more of them you use, the more you’re adding to the load time for each user that visits your site. And in a worst-case scenario, they might not even be able to browse at all.

One more thing — do not, under any circumstances, allow advertisements that use animations, Javascript, or auto-playing video. Not only will they alienate your audience, but they’ll also kill performance.  

Make Sure Your Images Are Optimized

One of the most common mistakes we see made by newer webmasters is that they download a stock photo at its largest size and simply upload that to their website. Thing is, even if you resize that image for a web page, your visitors are going to be loading the original with every single visit. In other words, your site’s going to take a considerable performance hit. 

Use a tool like GIMP 2 to reduce the dimensions of each image you want to use. Generally, 1200×800 is a good resolution to go for, but you may want to go even smaller (or keep the dimensions the same if you’re not uploading landscape photos). Additionally, we’d advise reducing image quality down to about 80 percent, as you can generally do so without any noticeable impact on anything but file size. 

Design For Mobile First

Last but certainly not least, we’d strongly advise reading up on responsive design. It may be somewhat dated by now, but web design publication Smashing Magazine has published an excellent guidebook to help you learn the basics. Familiarize yourself with the advice there, and then use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see what changes you need to make to your current website. 

Think Fast

Ensuring your website loads quickly and performs well is absolutely critical. Your audience isn’t going to wait around if things load at a snail’s pace. And Google’s not going to be tolerant of that, either.

Follow the advice here, and do everything in your power to optimize.

The Most Important Step in Fixing a Broken Brand

There are many reasons why a brand might ‘break.’ 

A disconnect in a brand’s identity between past and present, alienating the brand’s audience. A shift in a brand’s values to the point that it’s no longer appealing to its audience – something common in small brands that experience massive short-term growth and become profit-obsessed. A misstep by someone affiliated with the brand, resulting in extreme reputational damage.

Whatever the cause, a broken brand is one in which its audience has lost faith. A business whose image is tarnished to the point that people no longer want to support it. An organization whose relationship with its customers has fractured, leading them directly into the arms of the competition.

The first step in fixing a broken brand is to understand what broke it in the first place. You need to know what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what you can do to not only mitigate the problem but also prevent it from happening again in the future. Armed with that understanding, the next step is simple – apologize.

Demonstrate to your audience that you are aware of your mistake, and more importantly, that you are willing to make amends. Work to rebuild their trust in you by demonstrating that you are committed to bettering your business. 

What this involves depends entirely on the nature of what caused your brand to fracture in the first place. If it was a small, singular incident, a simple apology and press release may be enough to smooth things over. If it’s something more complex, however, like a values disconnect, a lawsuit, or a data breach, you’re going to need to chart things out a bit more extensively.

Regardless of what route you ultimately decide to take, it’s important that you include everyone affiliated with your brand and the incident. You need to account for not just your customers, but also your employees, investors, and business partners. Engage with them to determine the best path forward – the best way to fix the problems your brand has created for itself.

Listen, learn, and do better. 

From there, it’s simply a matter of time. Of allowing the wounds from your missteps to heal, and the rift created by your errors to mend. Provided you’ve properly grasped the core of your error and made the necessary changes, your brand should be back to where it was before it broke – perhaps even better than ever. 

Getting Started With Search Engine Optimization? Here’s Three Things To Do First

Looking to get started as a webmaster? That’s awesome – but before you get too gung-ho, there are a few steps you should take to prepare, particularly where search engine optimization is concerned. See, the search will likely be the primary means by which new customers discover your business.

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