Slow Websites: Fixes and Remedies

People who surf the Internet are looking for products, services and helpful information. They want instant gratification and relief. A slow loading website can quickly frustrate a new visitor in such a manner that he or she will leave the site and never come back. If you own a website, then you must ensure that your web pages load as quickly as possible. Before you start fixing things, it’s a good idea to run a speed test in order to get a baseline. There are a number of places where you can do this. Dotcom Monitor has a test here, and Web Hosting Hero has one here. The following are some fixes and remedies for slow loading websites:

Remove Images

Unnecessary images can slow down your page loading time significantly. Just one image on a web page can be 50 times larger than several articles. Therefore, if your website is cluttered with images, your visitors might be having a poor experience. Although images do improve articles and make them attractive, they can also hurt the website. Review your site for images that you do not need and remove them. Check your loading time when you are finished.

Convert to a Responsive Theme Type

If you are using a predesigned theme, you may want to check and make sure it is a responsive theme. Responsive themes adjust to your visitors’ needs. They gauge the expected user experience and change page settings accordingly. Additionally, they are optimized for smartphone, tablet and laptop users. Responsive themes may be more expensive than other theme types are. However, they will increase your earnings in the end.

Upgrade the Hosting Plan

Your hosting plan may have a lot to do with your page loading time, especially if you have a plan with limited bandwidth. You can change your plan to a premium plan that offers you a maximum amount of bandwidth for your site. Again, you will have to spend money, but the expense will be worth it if your site profits.

A great deal of page load testing sites are available for you to get a reading of your load time. You can use those free sites to diagnose issues and troubleshoot problems. Your site should have a short page load time in all browsers and all devices. The goal is to increase your traffic as much as possible. Having a universal web page setup is the best way to achieve that goal.

Programming a Web Application: Things to Consider

webappsA good web application can increase Internet traffic to a business and boost overall sales. A bad application can have just as many negative effects. There are several things a web developer should consider when creating web applications.

Make It User Friendly

This phrase has been so overused that most people do not even pay attention to what it means. If the user cannot successfully use the web application, they will move on to something that is easier to use.

Make sure the application works well across all browsers and all devices. Consider a method of updating that will not affect the end user. There is nothing worse than returning to a familiar site and finding it broken. Users will move on and find another one. Devise a method of updating and testing behind the scenes until the bugs are worked out, so that the user only sees the perfected final product with each update.

Keep It Secure

Security becomes even more important as the sensitivity of the data increases; however, even sites with low sensitivity need to provide security for the users. Make sure passwords are kept secure. Many guides exist to describe how to hash and salt passwords for maximum security.

Most web applications will include POST submits. Redirect after POST submits to ensure page refreshes do not resubmit the form. This redirect is even more important when POST submits accept payments. Make sure users cannot accidently pay twice. 

Performance Is Everything

If a web application is slow or uses excessive system resources, users will become frustrated and abandon the site.

Although it may seem more organized to split stylesheets and scripts into multiple files, this practice can create a drain on system resources as the number of browser connections increases. Consider placing all style elements into one file and at least all scripting elements of the same programming language into one file for better performance.

Don’t use a library or class just because it exists. If your application only needs to do one or two things from that library or class, it might be better to write that code yourself, instead of including a huge library of unnecessary code for the browser to sift through.

One more thing to consider when thinking about performance is uptime & functionality. These are important metrics for any web app, and something that you should be thinking about. If users can’t access your app, or it crashes, you could be in trouble when it comes to people liking your site. One of the best things that you can do here is monitor your web apps for uptime and downtime. Services like Website Pulse (http://www.websitepulse.com/services/transaction.monitoring.php), Manage Engine (http://www.manageengine.com/products/applications_manager/), and Dotcom Monitor (http://www.dotcom-monitor.com/web-application-monitoring-tools.aspx) are things that you can use to ensure that your app is up and running when it’s supposed to be.

A good web application can make the difference in whether a business is successful or not. Although these hints just scratch the surface, take them into consideration as you design the perfect web application for your business.

Why It’s Important to Hold Your Web Host to an SLA

slamanagementIn the simplest of terms, a Service Level Agreement (SLA) defines what level of service a hosting provider should give you as the client.

It should define things like how often your hosting should be up, how your server will be supported and what kind of data backup solutions are set in place for your website.

It is one of the most important things for you to consider when choosing your web host, and it’s even more important when deciding what precautions you need to take if something were ever to go wrong. Reading over your SLA can save your headaches, hassles and lost productivity.

What is a SLA?

As stated earlier, SLAs describe what responsibilities that your web host agrees to undertake. While they may list their responsibilities in a specific or a broad sense, they will usually list the following things somewhere:

  • Server Uptime – Most hosts provide anywhere from 99% to 99.99% uptime. This gives them enough time to take care of emergencies and routine maintenance.
  • Server Administration and Support – Somewhere in your SLA, your host will usually define what they will maintain on your website. This usually includes the hardware, software, control panel and any other portion of your website. It will also state how long of a delay you can expect before things like support inquiries are answered.
  • Data Backup, Storage and Bandwidth – Your SLA will usually define the amount of data you can store, how often it will be backed up and how much bandwidth you can transfer every month. It may also make specific arrangements as to how many databases, domain names and other features you have accessible to you.

What a SLA is Not
Service Level Agreements are by no means a guarantee. They are no more than general guidelines until the host clearly and unreasonably breaches the terms of the SLA.

For example, your website may be down for periodic outages due that extend past what your SLA specifics to natural disasters. It’s when your host is down for weeks at a time that you should seek a refund for violation of the SLA.

Why is a SLA Important?

The most important reason that your host should have a SLA is to give you an idea of what you’re paying them for, rather than trying to hide the fine print of their services within wordy legal documents. It provides a succinct but sufficient explanation of what a host should be required to do for the client.

As a SLA defines the expected level of service from a host, it should also define terms for reimbursement and cancellation. This is important, as you can generally ask for reimbursement if they violate it or refuse to give you the service that you have rightfully paid for. In order to make a claim against this agreement, you may need to have some third-party statistics relating to your uptime and downtime. Some companies that provide stats like these are Pingdom (www.pingdom.com), Manage Engine (www.manageengine.com) and Dotcom-Monitor (dotcom-monitor.com/sla-management.aspx). Most of these services are paid, but if you’re looking to keep a close eye on your SLA, they may be worth it, but obviously you have to decide that for yourself.

If you have problems with your web host or they’re not holding up to the level of service that they agreed to, then it’s time to look at your SLA to see what you can do. As with any business deal, it’s important to hold them to their contractual agreement.