2012 Website Check Up List Re-Design, Clean, Repair and Compress
2012 came around faster than ever. It feels like I have finished my taxes for 2011 and BAM it hits me again. It appears that with all the survival squabbling most website administrators don't have time to fine tune their websites.
Now that SLERPS are getting a little picky, I suggest that you run your site though some standard quality testing and take an afternoon to tweak your on page design and content to show them you are ready for the New Year. There are many things you can do to constantly keep your sites engine purring for competition. I thought I would put together this checklist of things you or your webmaster can do to fine tune your site for optimum performance. If a web designer did all this for every client it would cost a fortune. Therefore, as a website owner you need to be able to fine tune the hidden things that are easily overlooked.
Tweak Your Websites Loading Time for Optimum Performance
My next suggestion is something I think I might have gotten a little obsessed with but hey, a little obsession won’t hurt anyone. My website has many images (png) (jpg) formats. Even though it is image intensive I really like what I did with the web design so I tried to find a way to optimize the images as much as possible. The first thing I discovered was a little web tool called (Smush It) that yahoo offers. (Smush It) will compress f a (png) or (jpg) to just a few kilobytes down from what Photoshop ( Save for Web Devices ) can do. I did not think you could optimize a 24bit “png file” further than what you could when you save it with the default. When I pulled down all my images and ran them though Smuch it saved a total of 600 Kilobytes when I was finished. The tool does not appear to harm the quality of the image past it's 72dpi resolution so we found it was worth it and it only took about 20 minutes to complete.
I have been designing websites for more than 12 years and never paid much attention to caching. I knew about it and used it but really did not understand all the “ins and outs”. My company, Blue Light Labs, setup an in - house demo server so we could test different caching methods and come up with a good solution for our clients. There are 4 different types of web page caching that we use and most of these come standard with most content management systems.
- Browser Caching - Tells the visitors browser to store pages that don't need to be rendered again
- Server Side Caching – The Apache Server stores the page rendering to serve up faster if there are no changes to the content
- Module Caching - Allows you to control how often a website snippet or module needs to refresh itself.
It took a little time to find the right caching recipe for different sites that we built until we got the hang of it. I suggest spending a little time trying different settings and running your site though the Google website speed test located here (http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/). This tool will rate your site based on how well it's optimized for speed as well as give you helpful suggestions.
Another important suggestion; checkout this video on Page Speed
Integrate simple social networking depending on what your website is offering
If your website caters to a niche audience that want to follow updates or recommend your content integrating, social networking might be a good idea. SLERPS are paying more attention to social networking environments and from what I have read so far it has become a factor in how google rates your web pages. There are hundreds of social networking modules available for you to add to your content so just shop around until you find one that works best for you. There are 2 different ways to attract social network activity:
- Allow a specific page or article to be referenced and added to a visitor’s network stream using “Like / Add” buttons to broadcast it.
- Create Links that directly go to your company's Twitter, Facebook, or Google + Page to follow that pages activity for updates. This requires creating a Fan Page on Facebook and setting up a twitter account for the your company.
Check all your internal links and old content for broken links and missing tags
Sounds a little overkill but we like to add ALT Tags to all the images of a website but make sure they make some sense. Alt tags are looked at with the purpose of allowing visually impaired visitors to understand your site better.
You would be surprised at how many links can break and cause your site to suffer from a search engine standpoint as well as a visitor standpoint. Visitors getting a (404 error) page are not likely to return or trust the site again. I found a great tool for checking site wide links that is called “Link Sleuth” ; it can be found free for download here http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html . Unfortunately, they have a crappy page but this tool really does the trick. This tool even checks for broken image links in your CSS and I have I found a boat load of them that I did not know about before using this tool.