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Aug 15 2012

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Keep your website fast, secure and robust

There are several reasons why some visitors to your website would leave so soon. Not having a clear introduction on what the site is about, the improper sitemap and/or link structure and incorrect use of language are very common on personal blog sites. The most common problem that almost all websites is the loading time. From cooperate websites to personal blogs and everything in between face the uphill battle of keeping up with the fast phased “connected” society. You can take several steps to optimize your site which will help keep your visitors browsing the site for hours.

Use basic HTML or CMS software

When it is possible, use basic HTML and CSS to create your website. Sites built using CSS and basic HTML with little or no graphics will always load faster than sites that use raw coding and large image files. While basic HTML templates may be a good option for small scale website with finite number of pages, it is not very particle to use basic HTML/CSS based temples on large scale projects.

This is where the web content management system(CMS) comes in to play because it allow the website to grow and expand on demand. CMS programs like Drupal, WordPress and DotNetNuke provide great platforms large scale websites. But each CMS software will have its own inherited pros and cons. Do your homework on their abilities and limitations before your choose. For example, while Drupal and WordPress are cross-platform CMS programs, DotNetNuke only runs on Windows Servers. If you are running a simple blog site or you are not an experienced developer, WordPress is the best option. If you are looking for highly flexible program, Drupal is the one for you.

Use only what you need

On CMS programs, you will most likely have access to a database of add-ons called plug-ins or modules(or whatever you add to the system from a third party). Often these add-ons cause the website to slow down because they may use outside databases or separated databases to load information. Limit the number of add-ons by only using the ones you absolutely need. If you are a company that offer services outdoors such as a camping site, you will have a weather info add-on. But there is no reason why a personal blog site would need weather data. It will only delay the loading of web pages and offer no real value to the reader. Also, if you can replace a add-on with a simple HTML code (such as sharing buttons), go for the HTML code not for the add-on. Some of these add-ons can sometimes can cause security problems for the web server. It is better to use code than to use add-ons because you know what you are adding to your web page.

Another way to cut down the load time is to build a cache all the pages. There are add-ons and programs such as W3 Total Cache for WordPress which will automate the caching process. (Remember to clear the cache after a site update.)

Images and other multimedia on a webpage can increase the need for higher bandwidth to load. To increase the speed, you can reduce the resolution of images and use a service like YouTube to load your videos. The YouTube inserts will not load videos until the user click on the play button. Hence reducing the load both on your web server and visitor’s ISP. Use no or minimal amount of multimedia whenever you can.

There are useful tools available through hosting service provider as well as from websites like PingDom to test the loading capabilities of your website. I would use them to find out what is causing the longer load times and modify items with slow response whenever it is possible.

Remember, while loading time plays a very important role in keeping web surfers on your site, there is nothing worse than a website full of uninteresting articles on random subjects. Make sure to pick interesting subject matter for all your publications.

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