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Category: Design (page 1 of 3)

Increase Web Site Speed

Although images have the most impact, there are other elements that can affect your site’s loading speed. Most of the time it’s related to files, but other times it can be because of PHP conflicts or database queries taking very long to load.

To avoid conflicts and slow database loading times, you can try and limit your plugin use to the very minimal. Do you have a lot of unnecessary plugins and extensions? Get rid of them. Do you think something looks nice on your site, but you rarely every use it or it provides little value? Get rid of it.

You can start by removing your slider plugin, for example. Replace the slider with a static image and a CTA button. Why? Well, it turns out that sliders kinda suck! People rarely click on those offers, they take up a lot of space and resources and they can be very annoying when you’re reading something and the image shifts automatically.

Some other things you can do to increase your site’s speed include having a great hosting provider and minimizing the resources needed to load a page. You can use PageSpeed Insights and GT Metrix to monitor these issues.

Some are easy to fix and some are not. For example, a caching and file minification plugin like W3 Total Cache (for WordPress) can be useful. You can use this guide to set it up properly. However, beware of possible CSS and JS issues and conflicts that might mess up your design and functionality. Usually, disabling minification will fix the issue, but have a backup of your files and database before you change anything!

In Page Speed Insights check your server’s response time. If multiple tests show that the response time is over 2.5 seconds, you can consider switching to a better hosting provider.

You should also take a look at this Technical OnPage SEO Guide. Not everything there is easy to implement, but considering that it’s OnPage SEO, you have complete control over it, so it’s worth doing!

Compress & Optimize Your Images

Images take up the most physical space on your server. That means they also take the most physical space on your user’s device, which means they also take the most time to load.

Slow loading times greatly impact your conversions and images really take the longest to load.

There are two ways an image takes up too much space. First, it’s not compressed in its physical size on the disk. So you can have two images that look the same, but one has 1MB and the other has one fifth of a MB.

How is this possible? Well, I’m not sure how image compression works, but it makes images smaller in size on the disk without reducing their size or quality on the screen. You can use plugins such as Smush for WordPress, or image compression tools like ShortPixel which have APIs. You can also compress your images every time you upload them using TinyPNG. If you can’t connect a tool, just download batches of images (if you don’t have thousands) compress them and then reupload them to your server.

Then, of course, you have the size on the screen. A 2000 by 2000 pixels image will take up more physical disk space than a 500 by 500 pixels image. Therefore, don’t load a 2000x2000px image and shrink it to 500x500px using CSS. The browser will have to download an image 4 times larger than it needs.

To make this work with responsive designs, you can research the “srcset” HTML attribute. You can use it to only download specific images on specific screen sizes.

Evaluate your Website

Try your best to be objective. If you were coming to your website for the first time, what would you think of it? How does it make you feel? Irritated? Overwhelmed? Calm? Happy?

There are a lot of things that can contribute to these emotions, such as overall design, colors, fonts, navigation, and images.

Your goal — Take 30 minutes and jot down some things you notice. Consider:

  • Where your eye goes to first
  • If the company contact information is easily found
  • If the site loads fast or slow
  • If the product or service information is up to date
  • Whether the navigation bar makes sense or not
  • Broken links

There. That was easy. Now you have to decide what to do about it. I suggest asking a friend or perfect stranger to evaluate your site too. Someone who is honest and you trust. Because sometimes we think something looks good, but we’re wearing rose colored glasses.

Once you have a second or even third opinion, it may or may not be time for a re-design.

Website Accessibility

Site owners should periodically verify that the site is completely accessible for both search engine spiders as well as users.

Robots.txt, for example, can be useful at times when you do not want a page to be indexed, but accidentally marking pages to block the spider will damage rankings and traffic.

Brands should also look closely at their Javascript coding to ensure that the vital information for the website is easily discoverable. Since customers also regularly complain about error messages and sites failing to load, brands should be checking for 404 pages and related errors.

Given that more searches now occur on mobile than desktop, and the impending switch to a mobile-first index on Google, brands should also ensure that any content published is constructed for mobile usage.

When speaking about the user experience, visitors themselves also pay a considerable amount of attention to load speeds. Brands should optimize for load speeds, watching site features such as cookies and images, that can slow down pages when not used correctly.

Things to do to improve your site’s accessibility:

  • Check that robots.txt is not blocking important pages from ranking
  • Make sure the robots.txt contains the sitemap URL
  • Verify that all important resources, including JS and CSS are crawlable
  • Find and fix any 404 errors
  • Check that all content, including videos, plays easily on mobile
  • Optimize for load speed

Create an XML Website Google Friendly Sitemap

You’ll want to make sure search engines know what’s going on with your website. That’s where sitemaps come in handy — particularly XML sitemaps.

What is a WordPress XML Sitemap?

Sitemap is a list of pages on a website that is accessible to all users. An XML sitemap is a way for website owners to tell search engines about all the pages that exist on their website. WordPress XML sitemap also tells search engines which links on your website are more important than others and how frequently you update your website. While sitemaps do not boost your search rankings, it allows search engines to better crawl your website.

Why You Need an XML Sitemap

From a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) point of view sitemaps are extremely important. First we would like to clearly state that adding a sitemap does not affect search rankings. However, if there is some page on your site that is not indexed, then sitemap provide you a way to let search engines know about that page, so it can be indexed properly.

Sitemaps are very useful for new websites and blogs. As most new blogs usually don’t get many backlinks to their individual posts, it becomes harder for search engines to discover all of their posts and pages. Sitemaps allow those websites to help search engines crawl their sites more efficiently.

For popular websites, sitemaps allow your website to interact with search engines more effectively. Search engines can guess how often your site is updated, which parts of your website are more frequently updated than others, set crawl rate for your site, etc. This improves the overall visibility of your site to search engines.

An XML Sitemap is not to be confused with the HTML sitemap. The former is for the search engines, while the latter is mostly designed for human users (although it has other uses t00).

XML Sitemap serves two purposes:

  1. This helps search engines find your site’s pages more easily.
  2. Search engines can use the sitemap as a reference when choosing canonical URLs on your site.

Picking a preferred (canonical) URL becomes necessary when search engines see duplicate pages on your site, as we saw above.

So, as they don’t want any duplicates in the search results, search engines use a special algorithm to identify duplicate pages and pick just one URL to represent the group in the search results. Other web pages just get filtered out.

Now, back to sitemaps. One of the criteria search engines may use to pick a canonical URL for the group of web pages is whether this URL is mentioned in the website’s sitemap.

So, what web pages should be included in your sitemap? For purely SEO reasons, it’s recommended to include only the web pages you’d like to show up in search. You should include a more comprehensive account of your site’s URLs within the HTML sitemap.

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