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Differences Between Customer And User Experience And How To Improve Them ?

Do you want to get more traffic for your website?

Are you looking for a way to keep your visitors coming back to your website for more?

Do you want to make more sales through your website?

Of course you do. There isn’t an entrepreneur out there who would answer no to that question, no matter how much traffic they already have or how much money they’re making. More is always better.

Now, you might have tried all sorts of things already, and though you’ve seen some improvement, it’s not quite the improvement you expected. The problem might be quite a simple one – you might be focusing on the wrong thing.

Many entrepreneurs believe that the only area they need to focus on is the user experience. While offering a great UX is certainly vital, it’s not enough. The overall customer experience has to be just as delightful.

But… wait. Aren’t user experience and customer experience the same thing?

No, they aren’t. It’s true that one without the other won’t deliver truly great results, but they are distinct. Read on to discover how they differ, why you need to focus on improving both and what you can do to maximize traffic, increase visitor return rates and improve your sales.

Discover the Difference Between Customer Experience and User Experience

Customer experience and user experience

Customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) might sound similar but they are different. User experience focuses on how someone interacts with products, sites or apps. The metrics used include bounce rates, click-through rates, errors and abandonment rates. In other words, if someone has a hard time navigating your site or your product is hard to use, the result is a bad user experience.

Customer experience, though, covers every interaction someone has with your company, whether digital, in person or over the phone. NPS, customer satisfaction, customer retention rates, and customer loyalty are just some of the metrics used to measure the customer experience.

The customer experience is just as important as the user experience and while you might be mainly focused on the user experience at the moment, the fact is that you won’t see great results without giving customer experience the same level of attention.

For example, if you create an app with a poor layout and that’s difficult to navigate, customers will have a hard time finding what they need, which can lead to frustration. If the app can’t be easily accessed via the email you send out, then customers will be unlikely to purchase the product. Furthermore, an awkward layout will ensure that your customers won’t be recommending the app to their friends, regardless of how amazing it might be otherwise. Thus, user experience is clearly an essential component of the customer experience and can’t be ignored.

So, while the two are different, for the best results, you need to understand that they go hand in hand and both need to be delightful. For this reason, everyone needs to work together, from the product engineer to the web designer, to make sure that everything meshes well and provides an excellent experience. The easiest way to achieve this is to ensure that everyone goes through the whole customer journey; in other words, everyone needs to walk a mile in the customer’s shoes, which will allow them to see how every interaction develops and how it impacts the satisfaction of the customer.

The goal is to have a website that smoothly combines the necessary navigation elements with ease of use and all the additional bells and whistles that will set your brand about.

Thus, your overarching strategy should focus on the customer experience but also the user experience to ensure that your brand is one customers will come to love and will be loyal to.

Also Read: Bluehost Vs SiteGround Web Hosting Comparison 2017

15 Ways to Improve the User Experience

According to Cost-Justifying Usability: An Update for an Internet Age TK, improving the user experience can lead to an increase in sales of up to 225 percent.

Interestingly enough, 63 percent of software projects developed by large corporations go over budget mainly because they spend more money than expected on improving said experience.

This goes to show that large corporations are fully aware of the value of the user experience, and are willing to spend money to ensure it’s great. Since these corporations rarely spend any money without knowing they will see a return from it in some shape or form, it’s clear that investing in UX is definitely worth it.

So, let’s take a look at 15 ways in which you too can improve the user experience.

Mobile Is Non-Negotiable

Way to improve user experience by mobile optimisation

Offering visitors a mobile version of your website is non-negotiable. And we’re not just talking smartphones here. You have to ensure that people using tablets, wearable tech and any other mobile devices can access your site too.

Not only are more people accessing the internet using mobile devices nowadays than desktops – a fact that has been true since 2014 – an ever increasing number of people are using those mobile devices to perform essential tasks, like banking, shopping and more. So, if you don’t have a mobile responsive website, you are burning money.

Most companies have seen significant improvement in their conversion rates and sales after implementing a mobile responsive design, with some reporting increases of 50 percent or more. That’s an impressive figure and one you can’t afford to ignore.

So, if you’re still waiting around and haven’t taken the plunge, it’s time to get into gear and get yourself a website that users can easily access via their mobile devices.

Colors Do Matter

The colors on your website might not seem all that important. You might think that as long as the colors don’t clash and the website is easy on the eyes, you don’t have to worry any further. Well, the fact is that everyone is different and just because you like a certain color combination doesn’t mean it will do you any favors with your visitors.

Large corporations have pumped money hand over fist into doing research on how color impacts buying behavior. Furthermore, studies have proven repeatedly that different demographics like different colors, depending on the situation. For example, a Kissmetrics study revealed that women prefer blue, with orange being the least liked color.

Clearly, the colors you choose can have a significant impact on your visitors, which is why you shouldn’t rely solely on these studies. Instead, take advantage of your website’s data analytics and conduct user tests to see how you can optimize the colors on your website to maximize conversions.

You Need Calls-To-Action… And Make Them Visible

call to action importance for user experience

First of all, it’s important to understand that your calls-to-action shouldn’t be the equivalent of a hammer. In other words, don’t just state a bunch of facts about your company and then hit your customers over the head with a demand that they buy from you. No, you have to be a little more subtle. Think guide, not drill sergeant.

In other words, draw your customers in and guide them down the path, at the end of which is a prominent call-to-action button, which will prod them into making the buying decision.

Keep in mind that while you don’t want the CTA button to be like a hammer over the head, you need to ensure it is notable. A prominent CTA has been shown to increase conversion rates, so you need to take advantage of this fact.

Use Multivariate Testing to Make the Most of Your Website

Getting every webpage right so it not only attracts traffic but gets people coming back and offers the highest possible level of conversions isn’t easy. It’s even harder if you try to do everything by ear. Instead, you should use multivariate testing to see which options have the most impact and offer the best results.

For example, the Weather Channel saw a 225 percent increase in trial subscriptions after conducting multivariate testing and landing on the most effective combination of elements.

Keep in mind when doing multivariate testing that you shouldn’t make more than one change to each variant or you won’t know what worked and what didn’t.

Every Image Should Make a Point

A website without images is like a Reuben sandwich without the sauerkraut or dressing, i.e. you can eat it, but it won’t be amazing. People are very visual and images help to spice things up on your website. It’s also been proven that images can be used to great effect to improve conversion rates.

Like with any other element on your website, though, you need to test to find out what works best. Of course, to save yourself time and aggravation, make sure to start off with relevant images. To get even better results, try a little personalization, which is an essential element in providing a great customer and user experience.

Don’t Expect Something for Nothing

It’s already a well-known fact that if you want your website to succeed, you have to offer your audience value before asking for something. And the more value you offer, the stronger the relationship you build with your audience will be and the more willing they will be to part with their money.

However, you can take things a step further and offer something more, which will improve the user experience, while also nudging your audience in the right direction for them to actually make a purchase.

A good example of this is how the Sims 3 gaming website handled the situation. The site wanted to increase the number of subscribers so they changed their call-to-action from “Sign Up Now” to “Register Your Game and Get a Free Town Now!” The result was that the number of subscriptions increased by 128 percent, which is impressive but also shows what a small incentive can do.

Don’t Forget About Reviews

importance of reviews for user experience

Reviews have become vital to consumers’ shopping process. Everyone goes online to research the product or service they are interested in, and the first thing most do is to read reviews. Many consumers admit that reviews help them make their mind up regarding whether or not they should make a purchase.

And it’s understandable. Consumers have a harder time trusting the claims of a company, in other words their marketing materials, than they do their peers. So, reviews are akin to them asking their friends and family about their experiences with a certain product or service. In fact, according to a BrightLocal study, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do recommendations from people they know.

This is why your website should definitely feature reviews, especially since they speed up the decision-making process. After all, everyone wants to be certain the product or service is good quality and a good fit for them, and reviews are the vital element that provide them with the peace of mind they crave.

One interesting example of how effective reviews are is a FigLeaves experiment. The company included product reviews on their website and they saw their conversion rate increase by a significant 35 percent without taking any other action.

Make Sure Your Customer Testimonials Are Highly Visible

customer-testimonials importance for user experienceCustomer testimonials are an essential content element as they represent the unbiased opinions of people who have worked with your business and they have proven to be effective at convincing visitors to make a purchase.

Testimonials help to establish credibility and are so effective because they don’t make people feel as if they are being sold to. They establish trust and appear to be unbiased, and, even more, real people are showing that your product or service is exactly what they needed and met or surpassed their expectations. Essentially, it’s a type of word-of-mouth marketing because testimonials, like reviews, act as a personal recommendation, and we’ve already established that almost 9 out of 10 consumers trust reviews.

Now, if you really want to take advantage of testimonials, they have to be visible. You want them front and center so people see them right away. WikiJob, for example, had a number of testimonials on their website, but they were kind of out of the way, hidden at the bottom of the home page. So, they decided to move them to a more prominent position at the top of the page to see what would happen. The result was a 34 percent increase in conversions without any other changes being made.

So, clearly, it doesn’t just pay to include testimonials from real people on your website (preferably with a photo to further establish credibility), but they also have to be highly visible for you to make the most of them.

Here’s a case study on How customer testimonials impacts our conversion ?

Your Navigation Must Be Awesome

This one is so obvious, we hesitated to include it. However, it has such a major impact that we felt obligated to mention it. If your website’s navigation is awkward and complicated, visitors will have a hard time finding what they need and will eventually leave your site, never to return, out of sheer frustration.

Your website’s navigation not only needs to be easy and smooth, it must also be intuitive. In other words, keep things simple and logical.

Zen Windows proved just how much of an impact poor navigation can have on conversion rates. The company’s website featured a navigation system that was not the easiest to work with. So, they redesigned it, creating something that was more streamlined and simpler to use. The result was that their conversion rate jumped from 0.75 percent to 2.95 percent. Basically, better navigation almost quadrupled their conversion rate.   

Safety and Security Is the Name of the Game

Computer security importance for user experienceIt feels as if we hear horror stories every day of how someone’s personal information was stolen, made public etc, and how it pretty much ruined their lives. So, in a time when identity thieves are getting increasingly creative, it’s natural for people to feel somewhat uncertain and wary of handing over their personal information to a business they haven’t worked with before. And it’s your responsibility to make them feel safe.

You want to ensure that your customers are completely aware that all their payment information and personal data is completely safe with you. One way to pull this off effectively is by displaying a security seal, which can have a massive impact.

For example, Econsultancy/Toluna conducted a survey in which 48% of consumers said the most important thing to getting them to trust a website was the presence of a security seal.

When Blue Fountain Media decided to test the impact of the Verisign seal on their sales, they conducted a split test where one page didn’t feature the sign and one did. They found that when the Verisign seal was displayed, their conversions rose by 48 percent.

Show a Little Humanity with Live ChatLive chat importance for user experience

Live chat has been shown to be one of the easiest ways to increase conversions without having to resort to multivariate testing, which makes it powerful. The only thing is that it doesn’t work right away and it has to be implemented the right way depending on the site.

So, for example, an ecommerce website might benefit from live chat but not in an area that distracts consumers from shopping. On the other hand, a service website where customers might have a lot of questions before making the final plunge would be well-suited to a proactive live chat featured prominently. Intuit proved this when they introduced live chat to their checkout system and saw a 211-percent improvement in their conversion rate.

The great thing about live chat is that it makes customers feel more comfortable because they are interacting with a real human being. And in the digital age that is characterized more human interaction than ever before, even if it is all done digitally, live chat is a truly powerful way for consumers to interact with the human face of a website.

For example, an Econsultancy study found that 63% of customers were more likely to go back to a website with live chat compared to one that doesn’t offer this feature.

So, live chat certainly has benefits, as long as it’s done right.

Don’t Hide Your Prices

One thing that makes consumers extremely suspicious of a website is when prices aren’t immediately visible. Now, this aspect is more of an issue for ecommerce sites. Websites selling customized solutions or providing customizable services are exempt to a certain degree. For example, if you are a web designer, you clearly can’t give a standard, one-size-fits-all price, but you can provide a ballpark figure. Avoiding the talk of price completely will simply put people off and definitely reduce the chances of them making a purchase significantly.

The fact is that people like to know how much money they’re going to be spending ahead of time. If they can’t see it, then there’s a good chance they will walk away rather than go through the hassle of a checkout process to see the final amount. They’ll just turn to someone else who will be more forthcoming when it comes to pricing information.

SafeSoft tested this theory. On one page, they featured the price while another mentioned nothing regarding price. The page with the pricing information generated twice the number of leads.

So, make sure your prices are front and center.

Prove the Authenticity of Your Products

One touchy area for ecommerce websites is authenticity. A lot of people aren’t all that confident purchasing from these types of sites because they don’t think the products are authentic. This holds especially true if the prices being charged are lower than what they expect, even if the real reason for this is lower costs rather than a lack of authenticity.

Ergo, it is imperative to provide proof that all the products you are selling are completely authentic. For example, a website that sold watches created two pages. One focused on the price and offering discounts on Seiko watches, while the second was focused on proving the products were authentic, which was achieved by displaying a “Seiko Certified Partner” badge on the page. The second page generate 107 percent more sales than the first. 

Don’t Go Overboard on Personal Data Collection

Collecting data is a big thing. It allows you to learn as much as possible about your customers so you can personalize offers and offer them a better experience. However, the problem is that if you try to get too much information too soon – before establishing a strong relationship – you will alienate prospects and customers. So, instead of your sign up form being akin to an interrogation, collect the minimum degree of information that is feasible.

For example, Expedia only removed the need for people to fill in their company name from their forms, and this led to an additional $12 million in revenues.

So, rather than interrogate people right off the bat, take things slow and collect more information through surveys and other tools over time, as the relationship becomes more established.

Make Your Website Attractive to Your Customers

We’re certain you’ve done everything you can for your site to look as good as possible, but are you sure your customers find it attractive? This is an important distinction because what might be attractive to you, might not be all that great for your customers.

Yes, this means getting to know your customers well and understanding their likes and dislikes, but it’s an essential step. For example, a software company redesigned their site, featuring a more modern, streamlined design, which led to a significant 33-percent rise in their conversion rate.

Also Read:  15 Mistakes That Slow Down Your Site Speed And What to Do About Them

7 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience on Your Website

Now that we’ve looked at quite a few ways in which to improve the user experience, let’s take a look at some strategies you can implement to improve the customer experience. Remember, UX and CX need to work together for the best possible results, so you can’t ignore one in favor of the other.

Offer a Personalized Experience

Personalization isn’t a fad. It’s an essential element in attracting and keeping customers. And it’s something consumers have come to expect as part of a good experience. Now, to achieve a consistent, personalized experience across the organization, you must have a customer database, which everyone can access.

It’s true that personalization can get expensive, which is why you should analyze where to implement it based on sales improvement but also on where it will lend the most long-term benefits to the customer experience and relationship.

Also Read: HostGator Vs Bluehost Comparison review

Optimize Your Omnichannel Experienceomnichannel importance for customer experience

We live through our devices, pretty much. And the more technology progresses, the more we rely on it to do practically everything, switching from one device to another without giving it a second thought. This is why companies need to make sure they are providing a consistent and seamless omnichannel experience.

The essence of the omnichannel experience is to ensure the customer can switch from one channel to another while still ensuring an integrated and seamless shopping experience. In other words, all your channels have to work together so customers can shop effortlessly, no matter how many channels they use.

Also Read:  Absolutely Essential WordPress Plugins Your Site Can’t Live Without in 2017… And a Few Extras

Provide Plenty of Self-Service Resources

While people definitely like interacting with other people, they also like being able to do some things for themselves because those things just get done quicker. So, make sure your website features comprehensive FAQ pages and instructions. This way customers can find their answers quickly and easily, which will improve the level of satisfaction.

Keep in mind that these pages should be easy to understand and provide as much information as possible. If they’re incomplete or difficult to understand, the approach will backfire and lead to irritated customers.

Emphasize Social Media Support

importance of social media for customer experience

Providing support to customers where they already hang out is an excellent way to win them over. It’s an excellent channel for you to learn a lot about your customers while also offering them the support they need.

So, you can use social media to provide great customer service and support, but you can also use it to listen in and learn more about what your customers want and need. The more you listen, the more you’ll learn and the more easily you’ll be able to improve customer satisfaction because you will know exactly what they want.

Get Customer Feedback and Act on It

customer feedback importance for user experience

Customer feedback is essential and companies have turned collecting it into an Olympic sport. Everyone’s constantly sending out surveys, asking questions and encouraging their customers to leave feedback.

The big problem is that few companies actually take it all the way. They falter at the most important step, namely acting on the feedback they’ve collected. Instead of showing their customers they care and are listening to them by implementing the changes they are being asked for, they do the exact opposite, which alienates customers.

This is why you need to not only collect customer feedback but make the most of it by implementing at least part of the changes customers are asking for. It will lead to an increasing number of loyal customers, whereas ignoring them will lead to a significant increase in attrition rates.

Keep an Eye on Customer Sentiment

Customer sentiment isn’t a new concept but measuring it is a relatively new and growing trend. Measuring the emotions of your customers and analyzing them will lead to a much higher level of understanding, which will lead to you being able to better meet their needs.

One way to use customer emotion is to create models of typical purchasing personalities that show what their individual emotional needs are. These models can then be used to train staff so they know how to deal with the different personalities when engaging with them.

Leave Nothing to Chance

The key to success, both with the customer experience and the user experience, is not to let things unfold as they will. If you want to succeed, then everything needs to be planned and designed deliberately. If you leave things to chance, there’s absolutely no way things will work out properly.

 

How to Improve the Loading Speed of Your Website: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have your traffic numbers started to dip?

Are your sales declining?

Does it seem like no matter what you do, you can’t get your conversion rate up?

If you’ve tried everything else under the sun, have you checked your website’s loading speed?

A website’s speed will impact traffic, pages views, conversion rates, sales and much more. The slower your pages are to load, the harder it will be for you to draw in visitors and keep them on your site.

Studies reveal that 47 percent of internet users expect a site to take less than 2 seconds to load, while 40 percent of them will leave if it takes longer than 3 seconds. Furthermore, a delay of a mere second in the load time of your page can cause your conversion rate to decline by 7 percent.

In other words, you need to find out how fast (or slow) your website loads and get to optimizing its performance as quickly as possible. To that end, we’re providing a step-by-step guide for you to follow that will lead to significant improvements in your site’s loading speed.

Also Read: HostGator Vs Bluehost Web hosting comparison 2017

How to Test the Current Speed of Your Website

The first step to improving the speed of your website is knowing where it is at the moment. After all, without something to compare to, there’s no way you can tell whether you’ve made improvements or not.

Testing the loading speed of your website isn’t difficult at all. It certainly doesn’t involve you sitting there timing your pages’ load times with a stopwatch, if that’s what you were thinking. Instead, you’ll be using a number of tools that make it quite easy. Some of them will even provide recommendations on what you can do to improve.

Google has given us the PageSpeed Insights tool to measure the performance of our websites. The advantage is that it’s simple to use, seeing as you only have to enter the URL of your site and the tool will get to work. It will return a score and even provide suggestions as to what you can do to improve the speed of your site.

Test your website speed using Google PageSpeed here.

Google Page speed testing

The problem with PageSpeed Insights, though, is that it only measures the speed of the homepage of your website (or the page you entered the URL for), and it doesn’t actually tell you the precise time it takes to load the page, instead providing a score that also takes into account best practices. Another problem is that some of the recommendations simply aren’t feasible – you just need certain elements and can’t just do away with them for the sake of speed.

Better options include Pingdom and WebPagetest, which provide a breakdown of page load time, time to first byte and start render time.

Test your website speed using Pingdom.

Pingdom website speed test

Pingdom is especially useful as it allows you to test the speed of your website from different locations all over the world, which is important if you have an international audience. It also provides suggestions on what can be improved but also a breakdown of load times by content type and more. It’s certainly one of the best tools out there for measuring site speed, especially for non-techies.

Test your website speed using Gmetrix.

So, plug your website’s URL into Pingdom and save the results. Now that you have a “control” test against which you can measure the changes you make, it’s time to get started cleaning up your site.

Important! Before you make any changes to your website, make sure to back everything up just in case something goes wrong.

Also read , 15 mistakes that slow down your site speed and what to do about them?

Step #1: Change Your Host or Hosting Plan

When first creating a website, most people opt for the cheapest host and the cheapest hosting plan, which usually means they are using shared hosting. It’s only natural to do this, but the problem is that many forget hosting has a lot to do with the speed of their site, and as their site grows, it gets slower and slower because they are still using hosting that’s inadequate for their site’s needs.

If your website has outgrown your hosting, then one of the quickest and simplest ways to improve the speed of your website is to change hosts or to switch to a better hosting plan, if one is available.

So, if you’re still using shared hosting, you need to consider a dedicated server or VPS, either of which will lead to a major improvement in load time. The option you choose will depend on the needs of your business, which is why you should take the time to study both options in-depth.

However, our recommendation is to go with VPS or Virtual Private Servers hosting because multiple servers are used to distribute the content. It’s also scalable and generally the best option for small to medium businesses.

With a dedicated server, you do have a lot more control and aren’t sharing anything with anyone else, including CPU, RAM or bandwidth, but there is also less flexibility because it is usually only the one server. Also, it tends to be much more expensive than the VPS option.

If you’re reticent to switch hosts because you’re not sure what you have to do to migrate your site, there’s no need to worry. Most hosting companies will either provide you with full instructions on how to do it or will have a technician available to help you, especially if you are opting for a VPS or dedicate server hosting plan.

Here’s a comparison of server response time of low level and higher level plans of SiteGround web hosting. It can be clearly stated that being in a high level plan improves our website performance significantly.

Lower level plans

Web hosting low LEVEL PLANS Web hosting low level plans response time

Higher level plan 

web hosting top level plan response time

Step #2: Optimize Your Images

Images are the biggest elements on a webpage, after videos. The larger the image, the longer it takes to load. And when an image hasn’t been properly optimized, load times drop even more.

The problem is that if you want to draw traffic to your site, you need images. It also doesn’t help that those images have to be large and excellent quality because new screens demand it.

So, what can you do to optimize images and increase the speed of your website?

Eliminate Superfluous Images

The first thing you need to do is comb through your website and decide whether or not you really need all those images to achieve the effect you are after. Yes, images attract visitors, but you also have to remember that a simple design is often the best, both from an aesthetic viewpoint but also in terms of performance.

It is true that a good image is worth a thousand words, though, so it’s up to you to find the right balance.

Replace Images with CSS or JavaScript

Try to use CSS and JavaScript instead of images as much as possible. Code, if done properly, will always transfer faster than actual images, which is why you need to replace as many image files as possible. Effects such as gradients and shadows, as well as animations can be replaced with CSS, for example.

Eliminate Any Text Encoded as an Image

If you have any images that are nothing more than text, you should replace these with a web font. You can find all sorts of beautiful typefaces to complement your design while improving the load speed of your site as well as the user experience. Remember, when text is delivered as an image, it cannot be selected, searched, zoomed in or accessed. Thus, it’s always good practice to ensure all text is offered as a web font.

Replace Raster with Vector Where Possible

Lines, polygons and points are used to build an image in vector graphics, whereas a raster image shows a picture by encoding the value of every pixel and displaying them in a rectangular grid. Thus, when you zoom in all the way on a vector image, there will be no loss of quality, but if you do the same on a raster image, you will eventually only see a bunch of different colored rectangles.

The vector format is ideal for pictures that include lots of geometric shapes, such as logos and icons, whereas raster images are best for pictures with lots of detail.

The advantage of vector formats is that they can be converted to the SVG or Scalable Vector Graphics format, which is an XML-based type of image for 2D graphics that all modern browsers support. This image format presents as code, which is much faster than a raster format.

However, please note than when exporting to SVG, the code can contain a lot of metadata that is often not necessary and can slow things down. That is why it’s a good idea to minify your SVG files by using a tool like svgo, which can reduce the files size by as much as 58%. To further reduce the file size, GZIP compression can be used, which requires you to ensure that your server has been configured for SVG compression.

Check out this post, Difference between Vector and Raster Images.

Choose the Right Image Format

Depending on what you need, you have three image formats to choose from, namely PNG, JPEG and GIF.

GIF should only be used when you need animation because it has a limited color palette of 256 colors, which means it’s not the best choice for the majority of image.

If you need to keep the highest resolution possible and preserve fine detail at the same time, then PNG is your best bet. This is because It produces the highest quality image as lossy compression isn’t applied beyond choosing the color palette. Unfortunately, this means the file sizes can be much larger than you’d expect.

In most case, though, you can get away with using JPEG files. With JPEG, a combination of lossy and lossless compression is used, allowing for a smaller file size while still maintaining decent quality.

Check out this post, What is the difference between GIF, PNG AND JPEG image format?

Scale Your Raster Images Before Uploading

Never upload an oversize image and use html (or WordPress) to resize it. This is because the image will only appear smaller, but the browser will actually load the full-size image. In other words, if your image container is 240px wide, don’t upload an image that’s 2000px wide and set the width parameter to 240px as this is a surefire way to slow your page down. Instead, use an image editing tool to scale and/or crop the image to the right size before uploading it to your site.

Reduce the Color Depth of Raster Images

Depending on the image, you might be able to reduce its bit-depth and reduce the file size by as much as 50%. To do this, simply change the images bit depth from 8 bits per channel, which results in over 16 million colors, to a color palette consisting in 256 colors in total.

Keep in mind that this works best with images that use only a few colors. Images that are more complex and feature gradual color transitions can end up looking pixelated if you lower the bit depth too much. However, it is a matter of trial and error, so keep testing until you find the perfect balance between visual appeal and file size.

Loading time for images before optimisation

Load time before image optimisation Load time after image optimisation

Loading time for images after optimisation

Load time after image optimisation

 

As the above test results shows, having your image optimised can significantly reduce its load time.

For WordPress Sites

If you have a WordPress site, you can use either WP Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer to reduce the file size of your images without overly affecting the quality of the image.

Step #3: Clean Up Your Plugins and Add-ons

If you have too many plugins and add-ons, you might find your website slowing down to a crawl. Paying attention to these is especially important if your site is based on WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.

Some users have found that by cleaning up their plugins, they can increase the speed of their website by as much as 300%. You should also consider that it’s not just the number of plugins you have – there are plenty of sites with dozens of plugins that run fast – but also their quality. For example, a website with 80 plugins can load a lot faster than one with a mere 10 plugins if the latter is chock full of poor quality plugins.

Yes, plugins are a necessity to a certain degree as the improve the functionality of your website, but it’s also imperative to only use plugins when they are absolutely necessary.

Plugins affect the load times of your pages by issuing more requests and calls to the server than the core WordPress files already demand. What happens is this. When someone navigates to a WordPress page, the server and browser communicate, with the latter making requests that the former responds to. The core files of your site have already set out a series of actions, but plugins can change these actions by inserting additional code. The result is more calls and responses, ergo more time to load the page.

Thus, the number of plugins, having poorly configured or optimized plugins, having inefficient plugins or out-of-date ones can all significantly slow down your website.

So, how can we fix this problem?

Remove Plugins You Don’t Need

The first step is to manually go through all your plugins and delete the ones you don’t need and/or aren’t using. Simply deactivating them might work to a certain degree, but it still means there’s code hanging around that shouldn’t be there and it could still affect the speed of your site. It’s best to completely delete all these plugins. So, comb through and delete as follows:

  • Plugins you aren’t using;
  • Plugins you don’t need;
  • Plugins that haven’t been updated in a gazillion years.

You want to remove plugins that haven’t been updated because you can be sure that they don’t function as seamlessly as they should with the most updated version of your CMS. Plus, if a plugin hasn’t been updated in two years, you can be pretty sure it’s no longer supported and won’t get fixed. In some cases, these old plugins can really do a number on your site and the situation gets worse and worse until your site has a meltdown. So, get rid of these old plugins and, if absolutely necessary, replace them with an alternative that has support.

Update Your Existing Plugins

After you’ve culled the herd, you will have to update all your existing plugins. Every new update comes with improvements and security fixes, which means you could be exposing your site to major issues if you don’t update regularly. Plus, if all your plugins aren’t updated, they could be performing poorly because of it. So, when you start checking which plugins are causing the problems, you could end up eliminating a plugin that would have worked fine if it had been up to date.

Updating wordpress plugins to improve speed

It’s true that plugins should update automatically, but this doesn’t always happen and it’s best to manually check every plugin.

Discover the Plugins That Are Causing Problems

There are two ways to determine which plugins are causing problems on your site. One is slightly more time-consuming and one is simpler but we’ll present both here.

For the first method, you will need to use a site speed test tool, like Pingdom, GTmetrix or Uptrends. The first step is to take a baseline measurement of your site’s load speed with all plugins activated. Check every major top-level page, especially those pages with forms on them. Make a note of the speeds.

Now, start deactivating those plugins that you suspect are causing problems – big packages like bbPress or Jetpack can be problematic and are worth testing. Deactivate one of these plugins, then check the speed again. Deactivate another and so on and so forth. Make sure to make a note of the load time after each test.

Once you’ve gone through all your plugins, you will have a good idea of which ones are causing problems and should be replaced with faster alternatives.

The simpler alternative is to use Query Monitor. It has a bit of a learning curve but it will analyze your plugins and show you which ones are causing the most trouble.

Important Note: GoDaddy developed P3 or Plugin Performance Profiler a while ago and many sites still recommend it. It was a great tool – simple to use and gave you all the information you needed on your plugin performance – but it hasn’t been updated in 2 years. It tends to cause problems now, with some users reporting horror stories of their entire sites returning fatal errors, ergo we recommend you steer clear of this plugin.

Note that it’s a good idea to check your plugins regularly as some can start acting weird over time. If you monitor them, you can quickly change the problematic ones before they start seriously affecting your site and traffic.

Step #4: Enable Gzip Compression

If you’ve ever compressed a file on your computer, you’ve seen how much smaller in size it is after you’re done. With compression, you can turn a 60mb file into a 5mb one, which is a significant reduction in size. And that’s precisely what you want to do with your website, i.e. make it as small as possible.

Compression works on websites in a similar way, except we’ll be using a different tool known as Gzip. What it does is to compress your site’s files, turning them into zip files, which significantly reduces their size and massively increases the speed of your website.

So, how do you enable Gzip compression?

How to Use Gzip Compression to Optimize Your Site

When a visitor opens up your website, their browser sends a request to the server hosting your website, asking for the files of the page it wants to open. The server receives the request, searches around for the files and sends back a response that it’s found the files in question and starts sending the files. The browser then starts to download the files and once fully downloaded, displays the content.

While this system works, it’s not very efficient, which is where Gzip comes in. Not only will compressing the file save time, it will also save on bandwidth.

With Gzip compression, what happens is as follows: the browser sends the request to the server, telling it that it wants the compressed version of the files if available. The server once again searches for the files, sends the response to the browser when it finds them, compresses the files and sends them. The browser then downloads the files, which goes much faster because they’re a lot smaller, and then unzips them to show the user.

To enable Gzip compression, you first have to figure out whether you are running an IIS server or an Apache server. For IIS servers, you have to enable the compression feature in the settings. You can find full instructions on how to do this on this page from Microsoft.

In Apache, you will have to add some code to your .htaccess file. But don’t worry as it’s quite simple. Just copy the below and paste it into the .htaccess file:

# compress text, html, javascript, css, xml:

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

# Or, compress certain file types by extension:

<files *.html>

SetOutputFilter DEFLATE

</files>

Once you’ve configured the server, it’s time to check that Gzip is actually working. You can either check online with this gzip test, or you can do so straight in your browser. In Chrome, go to Developer Tools -> Network Tab, then refresh the page and, in the network tab, click on the page. If you see a header saying “Content-encoding: gzip” that means it worked.

Load time before Gzip compression

load time impact before Gzip compression

Load time after Gzip compression

load time impact after Gzip compression

Step #5: Minify and Combine CSS and JavaScript Files

If your site has a lot of CSS and JavaScript files, the server is probably telling the browser to treat them as individual files, which means a new request and response for each one. That can really slow things down. The solution is to combine as many files as possible.

Another issue is that the code in these files is rarely as clean as it can be, with extra white spaces, comments and formatting that a computer doesn’t need but has to read. This delays things even more. So, the solution in this case is to minify the code. This basically means cleaning up the code by removing all characters that are not necessary for the code to run.

Below, you can see how minifying your javascript and CSS files can reduce your file size and therefore speeding up your website.
Minifying reducing file size

Manually Minify and Combine CSS and JavaScript Files

You can manually minify and combine these files either by hand or using special tools. We advise against doing it by hand, though. First off, you have to know what you can remove and what should stay. Secondly, when doing things by hand, it’s much easier to introduce errors than when you are using a special tool, such as the ones below.

CSS Minifier

This is a free online tool available from Dan’s Tools that will clean up your CSS code by removing spaces, indents, comments and new lines. This will help to speed up your website and ensure everything runs more smoothly. All you have to do is paste the code into the window and then click on Minify. Once it’s done, paste it back into your website.

JavaScripty Minify Tool

On the aforementioned website, you can also find the JavaScript Minify tool, which does the same thing as the CSS Minifier in the same way, except it does if for JavaScript.

Both these tools are very useful and simple to use as you don’t need to make any adjustments or fiddle with settings.

Smaller

Smaller is a paid app (though a 30-day trial is available) but it allows you to also combine more files into one. Note, though, that this one is only available for OS 10.7 and up users.

For WordPress: Use Plugins to Achieve the Same Thing

If you are using WordPress, the simplest approach is to use a plugin. This way, you won’t have to do anything manually. There are quite a few options available:

Better WordPress Minify

This is a free plugin that allows you to minify and combine your JavaScript and CSS files. It’s one of the best plugins to help you speed up your WordPress site as it offers a slew of adjustments in the control panel, uses WordPress’ enqueing system to improve compatibility, allows you to move the files that have been put in the que to any location you want, such as the footer and more.

Assets Minify

This is also a free plugin, but it comes with fewer settings, which can make it easier to use. You can even leave the settings on default without any problems. You also have the option of excluding various files and scripts if you want.

WP Super Minify

This is one of the simplest plugins available for compressing CSS, JavaScript and HTML in that it has the fewest settings. It does have a great feature where it will tell you what the size of the file was before minifying and after, allowing you to see the improvement you made.

Regardless of the approach you use, you have to be careful as you could kill the code. The easiest way around this is to have backups on hand and be careful when copying and pasting.

If you are worried about making a mistake or simply feel uncomfortable fiddling with code, you could always get a developer to do it for you.

Step #6: Improve Your JavaScript Files’ Speed

JavaScript can slow things down a lot more than CSS and it can slow things down even more as files get bigger and bigger. The problem is that these files are used to achieve seemingly simple things.

The problem with JavaScript is that most people aren’t developers, so they use various stand-alone plugins and libraries to get things done. The more things you need to get done, the more plugins you use and the heavier and slower things get. To speed things up, here’s what you should do:

Keep JavaScript in External Files

Though we’ve discussed minifying and combining files to minimize http requests, with JavaScript it pays to keep it in external files linked to HTML because external JavaScript files get cached. This means that when someone revisits your site, they don’t have to download the file again. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t combine multiple JavaScript files into one, thus reducing the loading time for both new and returning visitors.

Put JavaScript Files At the Bottom

A browser will start rendering the source code of a page from the top. The problem is that your JavaScript files can slow things down, and it stops the browser from completely rendering the HTML until those JS files are done. Typically, most JavaScript plugins and effects are used after the rest of the page has already loaded, which means that this isn’t the best situation.

Thus, you can improve the user experience and improve the page load speed by putting the link for the JavaScript external files at the bottom.

Test If Everything on Your Site Works without JavaScript

Turn JavaScript off and see if your site still operates properly. If important info disappears, or people can’t contact you or navigate around your site with JavaScript properly, you have to fix these issues because if someone doesn’t have JS enabled in their browser, your site will slow down to a crawl because part of it won’t work properly.

Step #7: Minimize Redirects

Redirects can lead to slower loading times because visitors are being taken to one page, which then sends them to another page. So, while it sometimes makes sense to have redirects, you need to remember that they can cause performance issue. Every redirect you remove will speed up your website just a little bit more.

You can find all your redirects with the redirect mapper tool. Once you’ve found them all, you can determine which ones you absolutely need and which ones you can do away with.

For example, Google recommends that you eliminate every redirect that is not mandatory and to never have more than one redirect to take users to the resources you provide.

Google page speed and redirection errors

So, the process for cleaning up your redirects should be to first find all of them, understand why each one exists, check how they impact or are impacted by other redirects, remove the ones you don’t need, and update any of the other redirects affected by the removal.

Redirection increasing the load time

As you can see from the above image, redirection create additional results which will take around 0.7S to redirect to new webpage.

Step #8: Enable Caching

Caching can really improve the speed of your website significantly, both for returning users and for new users, depending on the type of caching that you’ve enabled. Client-side caching, or browser caching, involves the browser saving certain elements of your website on the visitor’s machine so that next time they visit your site, it doesn’t have to download those same files again.

Depending on the elements in question, you can set expiry times so that the browser knows when to check if the element has changed and download the new file. For example, for your logo, you might set the maximum expiry date of a year, because you know it won’t change quickly.

Server-side caching helps with new users as well as return visitors. This is because a copy of the page will be saved in the memory temporarily ensuring that if 50 users visit your site within an hour, the server doesn’t have to go hunting for those files repeatedly.

Regardless of which caching method you use, both will help improve load times significantly.

Enabling Browser Caching

To activate browser caching, you will have to include expiry times for various types of files in your HTTP headers.

You will also have to modify the .htacess file, which can be found in the root folder. You might be unable to see this file at first, as it’s usually hidden, but an FTP client like FileZilla will allow you to access it. To modify it, simply open the file in notepad.

Insert the following code to inform the browser what files it should cash and for how long. You can modify the times as you see fit.

## EXPIRES CACHING ##

<IfModule mod_expires.c>

ExpiresActive On

ExpiresByType image/jpg “access plus 1 year”

ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 1 year”

ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 1 year”

ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 year”

ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 1 month”

ExpiresByType application/pdf “access plus 1 month”

ExpiresByType text/x-javascript “access plus 1 month”

ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access plus 1 month”

ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access plus 1 year”

ExpiresDefault “access plus 2 days”

</IfModule>

## EXPIRES CACHING ##

For things like CSS files, you might want to set shorter times as they tend to be updated more frequently. When you are done, save the file with the extension it already has and not as a text file.

Load time before caching

Load time before enabling caching

Load time after caching

Load time after enabling caching

For WordPress Users

If you are using WordPress, things are a lot easier. You can install a plugin to handle all your caching needs. A great free option is W3 Total Cache, which has a lot of functionality. One of the best plugins, and the most advanced, though, is WP Rocket, but you will have to buy it. However, the wide range of features and its functionality makes it more than worth the small investment.

Step #9: Constantly Optimize Your Databases

A powerful way to improve the speed of your website is to make sure your databases are optimized all the time, which is especially important for WordPress users.

WordPress, along with the plugins you’ve installed, save their data in your database, so the more you use them, the more data will be saved in the database. The more data there is, the longer it will take WordPress to find anything in that database, which will slow down your website. This is especially true of plugins that save logs, user data and stats, as well as having post revisions, pingbacks and trackbacks enabled.

So, you can improve the speed of your website significantly by cleaning up your database on a regular schedule. You can automate this process with a plugin known as WP-Optimize, or you can do things manually if you don’t use WordPress.

To manually optimize your database, open your MySQL database in PHPMyAdmin and select the tables you want to optimize. Open the drop-down menu and select Optimize table. After the process has completed, a confirmation message will appear on-screen.

Step #10: Test Your Website’s Speed Again

Once you’ve completed all the previous steps, run another test to see how fast your website is running. You should be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of what you can do to improve the speed of your site, but we did pick the actions that would have the biggest impact.

Step #11: Repeat

Like with anything, you can’t just do all these things once and forget about it. Optimizing your images, for example, should be something you do every time you upload a new image. Likewise, many of the other steps can be repeated when new content is added, changes made or updates done, which will ensure that your site keeps going as fast as possible.

If you don’t keep things running smoothly and forget all this advice after you’ve done it once, your site will gradually slow down again and you’ll have to start all over again. So, it simply makes more sense for you to keep everything running smoothly from the get go.

How to Choose a Web Hosting Service For Your Website? – IHB

How to choose a web hosting

Selecting the right host is a big deal. Whether you’re building a basic website for your small business or you have a brilliant idea for the next Facebook, an important first step is deciding which web hosting service works for you. There are dozens of web hosting companies on the market, and our official checklist will help you decide based on your particular business goals.

Are you a first time web blogger or hosting your website for the first time?

Are you hosting a website for the first time? I have done the research, you can simply choose any of the hosting companies from the list given below. These are the top 5 best web hosting companies for beginners, because of their easy to use Interface and quality of hosting.

Web HostingFeaturesPriceRatings
SiteGround Web Hosting✔Free Website Transfer
✔Free Domain
✔30 Day Money Back Guarantee
3.95$web hosting ratinghosting company ratingweb hosting reviewshosting reviewsWeb Hosting ratings
Read Review
WP Engine Web hosting✔25000 Visits
✔FREE SSL Certificates
✔10 GB Storage
$29web hosting ratinghosting company ratingweb hosting reviewshosting reviewsWeb Hosting ratings
Read Review
HostGator Web Hosting✔1 Domain
✔ Unlimited Bandwidth
✔$200 Advertising credits
$3.95Web hosting company ratinghosting reviews and ratingweb hosting reviewhosting ratinghosting company rating
Read Review
DreamHost Web Hosting✔Unlimited Domains
✔Free SSL/TLS certificates with Let's Encrypt
✔Free Domains
$7.95Web hosting company ratinghosting reviews and ratingweb hosting reviewhosting ratinghosting company rating
Read Review
Bluehost Web Hosting✔FREE Domain
✔50 GB Disk Space
✔1 Website
$2.95Web hosting company ratinghosting reviews and ratingweb hosting reviewhosting ratinghosting company rating
Read Review

What are your needs?

The dream of every business owner is to see thousands of people visiting their site every month. If the day finally comes where thousands of visitors view your website, don’t be caught off guard and have your website shut down. Choose the right host from the very beginning.

To begin with, finalise your needs for a hosting by answering following questions.

  • What is the required bandwidth for your website? and choosing the right service plan for your website.
  • What are the technology used in building your website?
  • Do you need a SSL certificate for your website?
  • What type of sites are you creating? ( HTML or WordPress)

What to consider when Choosing a web Hosting company?

Now that you know your needs, its time to look at what should be the criteria to choose the best hosting company.

  • Dependability ( Uptime, Customer support)
  • Speed of the hosting company.
  • Price of the hosting plans.
  • Future Scalability of your Website

Following steps will help you choose the most dependable hosting for your website.

1) Determine bandwidth requirement and choose the right plan.

What is Bandwidth?

In short, bandwidth is the measurement of maximum data that is transferred at any given time on a web server. This data includes page loads, file loads and transfers, and amount of website traffic.

Bandwidth is almost always limited by web hosting companies. Simply put, the more money spent monthly on hosting, the more bandwidth your website will receive. It’s vital for every website to have enough available bandwidth to operate on a daily basis; those who don’t have enough bandwidth will experience website shut down.

Excessive bandwidth usage website shutdown
Website shut down due to excessive bandwidth usage by one of website hosted under Siteground.

Lets look at an example to understand bandwidth clearer. Consider a restaurant, where bandwidth is the number of available places in a restaurant, and the web traffic is the diners. The more available places, the more number of diners can be accommodated there.

If the restaurant is very busy, you need a very good management to satisfy every diners. Similarly, you need a very good hosting company to satisfy very high traffic to your website.

How much Bandwidth is Actually Needed?

If you own a relatively small website with little traffic and small data files, you’ll likely only need about 10 GB worth of bandwidth every month. The average website that receives 1,000 visitors per day will need roughly 9 GB worth of bandwidth or less.

If you already have a website and want to calculate how much bandwidth is required, you can use the following equation.

(Daily visitors x Daily page views x Average page size) + (Daily file downloads x Average file size(Only  if your website have downloadable content)) x 31(Number of days in a month) x Future tolerance number ( Depends on how much will you expect your website to grow, it can be 1.22 or 1.35 or 1 if you expect to receive stable visitors for next 1 year.)

Having room to grow is important. As you add more and more pages to your website, you’ll likely receive more page views, which means more bandwidth. If you regularly promote your website, you should also expect large traffic spikes, which could result in double or triple bandwidth amounts in a single month.

Preparing for spikes in traffic and eventual regular traffic increases by tripling your bandwidth amount in the beginning will help you avoid bandwidth overage charges and possible website shutdowns in the future.

Shared Hosting Plans

First time hosting a website? Shared hosting is the right place for your brand new website. Its safe, easy to use and cheap.

In shared hosting, physical server is shared with many other users. Not to worry, the users on the shared server cant access your data, instead they use shared resources such as disk space and RAM from same server as yours. Shared hosting start as low as $1/mo. Moreover, shared hosting plan from high quality hosting like SiteGround will cost you only $4.5/mo.

Here are the most popular shared hosting plans available.

 SiteGround     ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐   Image result for signup button

Related image WP Engine      ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐   Image result for signup button

Image result for 3 icon Bluehost         ⭐⭐⭐⭐       Image result for signup button

Going with Virtual Private Servers (VPS) Plans

VPS hosting is the best solution for high traffic websites. On this type of hosting, your website is given server and bandwidth resources that are not shared by other websites, which allows you to accommodate more traffic.

Virtual Private Servers are offered by every web hosting company, and if you’re expecting large traffic increases in the near future, it’s best to sign up for one of these plans. You’ll gain access to better customer support and more reliable hosting overall. Look for hosting plans that offer at least 10 GB worth of dedicated bandwidth on a monthly basis; anything less will likely cause website limitations down the line.

Here are the most popular VPS hosting plan available.

 SiteGround     ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐   Image result for signup button

Related image WP Engine      ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐   Image result for signup button

Image result for 3 icon Bluehost         ⭐⭐⭐⭐       Image result for signup button

Dedicated Hosting Service Plans

Dedicated hosting service is a single computer located within a network that serves the needs of that network. A user will rent the server, computer, software and dedicated bandwidth from the web hosting company.

This is the most expensive web hosting options, but is often necessary for companies who plan on expanding their websites and dedicating a significant financial amount to marketing and technology development in the near future. You’ll likely pay hundreds of dollars per month to rent a dedicated server for your website.

Here are the most popular Dedicated hosting plan available.

 SiteGround     ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐   Image result for signup button

Related image WP Engine      ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐   Image result for signup button

Image result for 3 icon Bluehost         ⭐⭐⭐⭐       Image result for signup button

Read this comprehensive guide on choosing between Shared, VPS and Dedicated Hosting.

2) The technology used in building your website.

What type of code will you be using? Just the standard HTML and CSS or do you eventually need to add a back end database and advanced functionality? Some additional languages that your website might need in the future include:

  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Node.js

Your host must support various languages, frameworks and be able to support advanced versions of them. For example, if your web host only supports PHP v.4 and you need v.5, it might be best to look elsewhere.

Most-popular-web-developement-languages
Most popular languages used for web developments. Credits: stackoverflow.com

If you happen to be a beginner, you are probably wondering what these languages and terms mean. Don’t worry, you can also build your website using one click CMS like WordPress.

Simply put, WordPress is a highly flexible website management system that enables you to build a fully fledged website without having any knowledge of coding or web designing skills. That means you can create your dream website with just few clicks using WordPress.

Additionally, WordPress is included free with 99% of hosting companies out there.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on How to build a website using WordPress for beginner.

3) Pick an operating system

Which operating should you choose for your web hosting servers? Should it be Windows OS or Linux OS? It depends on what you need and what you will use on the server. Here is a table which will help you to choose the best OS based on development tool used for building your website.

Development ToolWindowsLinux
Wordpress and other CMS
Dreamweaver or other WYSIWYG apps
PHP,Python,Perl, MySQL or CGI
ASP.NET and PHP, MySQL, ASP,
ASP.NET, ASP, MS SQL
Beginners and no idea what to choose

4) SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

What is an SSL ?

SSL is a standard technology used to establish encrypted connection between a server and its client. This security can ensure safe transfer of data such as credit card information, phone number , address and other data that is entered through browsers.

SSL certificate

The green colour in URL indicate that this site is secured with SSL certificate and any information sent to this site is secure and private. Moreover, sites with SSL certificate will have its url changed from http:// to https://.

Security certificates, also known as SSL certificates, are essential for those who want to sell online and for SEO purposes. On top of that, Google recently announced that having SSL certificate  is a ranking factor for your website.

Every web hosting service offers security certificates however, some certificates are better than others. If you only need SSL for SEO purposes and you don’t plan on selling online, consider a web host that offers free certificates. If you plan on selling online or need a member’s only section where customers must create usernames and passwords, find a host that offers SSL certificates with maximum protection.

Read this indepth article on SSL and its benefits for more information on SSL.

5) Decide between static HTML websites and CMS like WordPress

Static HTML websites come with very little technical requirements so most any web hosting company will do. If you plan on building a website using WordPress or another similar CMS platform, some web hosts will be better than others.

WP Engine is widely popular among those who develop WordPress websites because the company focuses solely on that platform. They offer daily website backups, malware protection, fast page load times and website speed reports.

Although Wp Engine is an expensive choice starting at 29$/mo, there are companies like SiteGround and Hostgator which are both excellent choices for HTML and WordPress sites with plans starting as low as $3.9/mo. They both offer website builders for the inexperienced web designer and one click WordPress install options starting with their cheapest plans.

6) Complicated Web Applications

Web applications that require a more sophisticated hosting solution should use a different type of web hosting service known as a Cloud Application Platform. Heroku is a widely popular web hosting company for complicated web applications because they offer application upgrades and patching that would normally have to be performed by third party web developers.

If your website or application is extremely data intensive or traffic heavy and you’ve got some extra money to invest, consider using a cloud application platform.

It seems you have figured out your requirement for your web hosting and its time to choose the best hosting for your needs. Here the the things to look out for.

7)Choose a dependable hosting

Dependability is determined by a number of things, including uptime percentages and customer support response. You’ll want your website to be live with little to no interruptions and, if something does go wrong, you’ll need customer support to assist you right away.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term “Uptime“, it is the amount of time your website is up and running. Uptime primarily depends on your web hosting company. Downtime can be caused by many factors such as hardware failure of your hosting server, malware attacks, scheduled maintenance and many similar factors.

How dependable is your chosen web host? Do they have a high uptime percentage? You’ll find that most web hosting companies will boast about a 99 percent uptime guarantee, so it’s best to check some reviews first.

Additionally, uptime of less than 99% means your website will be down as follows.

  • Daily: 14m 32.6s
  • Weekly: 1h 41m 48.5s
  • Monthly: 7h 22m 40.4s
  • Yearly: 3d 16h 32m 5.2s

Hosting companies with uptime of below 99% must be avoided as each second your website is down, you loose valuable revenue and trust from your visitors.

Here’s an uptime report of top web hosting companies tracked by Inlinehostblogger.com

When it comes to support, choose a hosting company with very fast live chat support. Live chat tend to be the most efficient way of reaching and solving the problems with a hosting company. Unlike any other sectors, problems related to a web hosting companies require sharing datas and links, which is why it is preferable to use live chat than phone support. Its better to check out the live chat waiting time of each hosting companies by reaching out to their Live chat team via their official websites before making a choice.

To make it easier for you, here’s a list of hosting companies and their live chat waiting time. Additionally I have also included a link to their live chat team so that you can check the response time yourself.

Web HostLive chat wait timeTest now
SiteGround0-1 minuteTest now
Bluehost10-15 minuteTest now
HostGator10-15 minuteTest now
Wp Engine 0-1 minuteTest now

Also Read:  Absolutely Essential WordPress Plugins Your Site Can’t Live Without in 2017… And a Few Extras

8) Speed of the hosting company.

Speed is important, especially for websites that require large files and extra addons. Use a speed test tool to check the speed of your web host before signing up with them. 

Why Speed is so important?

According to a study, 50% will leave your site if it takes more than 3s to load. Another study states that, 1 second increase in page load time can cause 7% drop in conversions. Moreover, site speed is a major ranking factor in Google. All things considered, Site speed can be termed as the most important factor to consider when choosing a hosting company.

WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are all backend heavy CMS platforms that might require specialised hosting in order to maximize the speed of your site.

To determine the speed of the hosting server, response time of a website should be calculated rather than the actual speed of the website. It is because, speed of the website is depended heavily on the content size and optimisation of the website than the server it is hosted.

Here’s a list of top hosting companies and average response time of similar test websites associated with their hosting companies.

Note: All the tests were conducted from USA.

  1. SiteGround. Average Response time: 70ms

SiteGround server response time2. HostGator. Average Response time: 90ms

HostGator server response time3. Inmotion Hosting. Average Response time: 129ms

Inmotion hosting server response time4. WP Engine. Average Response time: 130ms

WP Engine server response time5. Bluehost. Average Response time: 156ms

Bluehost server response time

The Price Matters

Web designers and business owners see cheap monthly web hosting deals on a daily basis. This doesn’t mean that you should choose the cheapest option available.

Prices for basic shared web hosting range from a few dollars a month to nearly $29 per month. The cheapest option won’t allow you to scale your website easily, while the more expensive option offers the ability to host unlimited domains up to the maximum allowable traffic bandwidth. Paying more money per month for higher bandwidth limits will allow you to scale the incoming traffic to your website without worrying about limitations or website shutdowns.

9) Initial Price vs Renewal Price

Please take note that what you pay initially is not what you pay after a year. There is significance difference in renewal price of a hosting company. Its something hosting company tends to hide initially.

For example, a hosting package with GoDaddy will initially cost you $12 for that year. Later, you will be surprised to see your credit card billed 112$ for the next year. Check out with Hosting company for their renewal price before choosing a hosting company.

Here’s a list of hosting company with their Initial and renewal price compared.

Web HostingInitial PriceRenewal Price 
HostGator$3.95/mo$8.95/mo Sign Up Now!
SiteGround$3.95/mo$9.95/moSign Up Now!
Bluehost$2.95/mo$7.95/moSign Up Now!
WP Engine$24/mo$29/moSign Up Now!
GoDaddy$1/mo$9.95/moSign Up Now!

10) Future Scalability of your Website

Most websites will need a web hosting solution that allows for easy scalability for both the amount of traffic you expect and the sizes of files you’ll be storing on the server. The bigger the amount and size of the files you’ll have, the more bandwidth you’ll need.

It’s also important to remember that, even if you start out with little to no traffic, your web host should offer easy ways to upgrade your bandwidth amount to accommodate future needs.

Web Hosting Companies Worth a Second Look

While there are dozens of web hosting companies that offer their services, the following are the most recommended hosting companies by IHB.

Web HostingFeaturesPriceRatings
SiteGround Web Hosting✔Free Website Transfer
✔Free Domain
✔30 Day Money Back Guarantee
3.95$web hosting ratinghosting company ratingweb hosting reviewshosting reviewsWeb Hosting ratings
Read Review
WP Engine Web hosting✔25000 Visits
✔FREE SSL Certificates
✔10 GB Storage
$29web hosting ratinghosting company ratingweb hosting reviewshosting reviewsWeb Hosting ratings
Read Review
HostGator Web Hosting✔1 Domain
✔ Unlimited Bandwidth
✔$200 Advertising credits
$3.95Web hosting company ratinghosting reviews and ratingweb hosting reviewhosting ratinghosting company rating
Read Review
DreamHost Web Hosting✔Unlimited Domains
✔Free SSL/TLS certificates with Let's Encrypt
✔Free Domains
$7.95Web hosting company ratinghosting reviews and ratingweb hosting reviewhosting ratinghosting company rating
Read Review
Bluehost Web Hosting✔FREE Domain
✔50 GB Disk Space
✔1 Website
$2.95Web hosting company ratinghosting reviews and ratingweb hosting reviewhosting ratinghosting company rating
Read Review

Bluehost – Bluehost offers plans as low as $2.95 per month, but they require customers to prepay for an entire year. They offer unlimited space and unlimited bandwidth, along with around-the-clock technical support.

Dreamhost – Dreamhost is well known because they allow customers to host an unlimited amount of domains for around $7.0 per month. VPS and dedicated servers cost more but the service is well worth the price. Dreamhost is especially useful for those who wish to host high traffic WordPress websites.

SiteGround – For $3.95 per month, SiteGround offers up to 10GB of space and unlimited bandwidth. This means that your website can only contain files for a total of 10GB while allowing you to accept an unlimited amount of traffic. They offer 24/7 customer support, free domains, and an easy way to upgrade to dedicated server hosting in the future, if necessary.

Moreover, check out this post HostGator Vs Bluehost web hosting comparison to understand above depicted points on choosing a web hosting.

The Bottom Line

Choosing a web host is one of the most important business decisions you’ll make. Your web host acts as a foundation for your website, something which you must be able to build upon in the future as needs arise. Look for a hosting company that you can afford on a monthly basis while starting out with a shared hosting plan. This type of plan will allow you to plan ahead for major traffic spikes when you begin marketing your website.

Like any other aspect of your business, spend time researching multiple web hosting options and reading reviews. Your web host is the foundation of your online presence.

Absolutely Essential WordPress Plugins Your Site Can’t Live Without in 2017… And a Few Extras

With over 50,000 plugins available just on the WordPress plugins website, along with the many others from independent parties, it’s no wonder most entrepreneurs struggle trying to determine which plugins their website needs, and which ones are the best option.

To make life easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of absolutely essential plugins for 2017, as well as a list of plugins that perform important tasks that you might find useful. We’ve not only checked every plugin to make sure it’s the best in its class and still has support in 2017, but where possible we’ve given both free and commercial alternatives.

Absolutely Essential Plugins All WordPress Sites Need

First, we’ll be covering the list of plugins your site absolutely needs. With these plugins, there’s no negotiating if you want your site to run well and be secure.

Also Read: SiteGround Vs Bluehost Web Hosting Comparison

Plugins to Speed Up Your WordPress Site

People aren’t all that patient nowadays and most expect your webpages to load in a maximum of 2 seconds. If they take 3 seconds to load, you’ll lose most of your traffic. The plugins mentioned below will all help speed up your site and make your visitors happy.

WP Rocket (Caching)

wp-rocket-wordpress plugin info

Caching is a great way to speed up your site for returning visitors as it saves pages and various other elements of your site on the visitor’s computer so that when they visit again, they don’t have to wait for the pages to download from your server as they’re already on their hard drive.

WP Rocket is one of the best plugins available for caching your site. It’s a commercial plugin and will cost you $40 for a site (though other license options are available) but it’s well worth the cost seeing as there is very little you need to configure. In fact, in most cases, it will do wonders for your site right out of the box. It’s also extremely easy to use, even when you decide to tinker a little with the settings, which is another major point in its favor.

★ Visit WP-Rocket

W3 Total Cache (Caching)

W3 TOTAL CACHE PLUGIN INFO

W3 Total Cache is the best free plugin to cache and speed up page load times for your site. It’s been around for a while, and before WP Rocket became available, it was the best caching plugin available of all of them.

It’s still a very good substitute for WP Rocket, if you don’t have the budget for the latter. The only problem you might encounter is that it might take a bit of work to configure it to run properly. However, you’ll find that most of the essential settings have already been checked, meaning that you’ll likely need to do very little tweaking to get everything running smoothly. 

★ Visit W3 Total Cache 

Also Read: How To Install & Configure W3 Total Cache WordPress Plugin

Better WordPress Minify

We know W3 Total Cache has a minify feature, but it’s really not enough. Better WordPress Minify will whip your JavaScript and CSS files into shape, thereby increasing the speed with which your pages load. The fact is that there aren’t a lot of minification plugins that work properly. In fact, most of them will turn your site into a mess, whereas Better WordPress Minify actually does what you want it to do, including removing comments and blank spaces from the code, and combining the files so there aren’t as many HTTP requests.

★ Visit Better WordPress Minify 

Also Read: 15 Mistakes That Slow Down Your Site Speed And What to Do About Them

Async JavaScript

While sometimes unavoidable, the fact is that most JavaScript code is pretty slow to load. There is also the problem that everything else on the page stops rendering while waiting for your JS code to load, so if you JavaScript is placed anywhere above the fold, it can take a long while for your page to load, resulting in a terribly poor user experience.

The Async JavaScript plug-in uses deferred or asynchronous methods to remove any JS code that is present above the fold, which can significantly increase speed. Generally, it’s recommended that you use the asynchronous method, but testing is essential. In some cases, this plug-in can actually do the reverse and slow down your website, which is why you should test page loading speeds with it activated and with it deactivated, to see how you get the best results.

★ Visit Async JavaScript  

Far Future Expiration Header

When different file types are cached, they come with a line of code that tells the browser when it should check for new updates to the page. Take your home page, for example. When someone visits your site for the first time, if you have a caching plug-in activated, their browser will download and save a copy of your home page on their hard drive. The next time they visit, the browser will look for the home page on the visitor’s computer and load it, rather than waiting to download it from the server. It will do this for a set amount of time, after which it will once a game download the page from the server, to ensure the visitor is seeing the most up-to-date version.

Far Future Expiration Header is a plug-in that allows you to set the date yourself. For example, if you have a static homepage that never changes, you can set the plug-in to the maximum of 365 days, meaning that the browser will be told it only has to check for a new version of the homepage after one year. The plug-in also comes with a simple radio button that allows you to turn Gzip on and off, which is one of the simplest ways to activate this form of compression that will further speed up your site.

★ Visit Far Future Expiration Header 

Hummingbird

HummingBird WORDPRESS PLUGIN

The Hummingbird plug-in comes from the WPMU DEV team and is a premium plug-in. It can be used instead of WP Rocket/W3 Total Cache, Better WordPress Minify, Async JavaScript, and Far Future Expiration Header. It also offers a few extra features, including the ability to monitor your site in terms of performance, as well as providing an analysis of what you can do to speed up your website. It also optimizes images and can do much more.

It’s a great plug-in, however, it can get pretty expensive since it’s available only if you become a member of the WPMU DEV website, which will cost you $49 per month. It should be noted that you get access to a lot of plug-ins and themes for the same price, which is why will be covering other plug-ins from the same developer, just in case you decide to take this route.

The advantage of having a large number of plug-ins from a single developer is that it is less likely you will have compatibility issues. If you’re not sure of the best option, a 14-day free trial is available, so you can give it a whirl before you commit.

★ Visit Hummingbird 

WP – Optimize

wp-optimize WORDPRESS PLUGIN

WordPress has a tendency to save every little thing, including every revision you make to post, every comment, even if you put it in spam, and so much more. Essentially, it saves everything you can possibly imagine, a lot of which you will never need again. This means it can get very complicated and bloated, which will of course affect the speed of your site.

WP – Optimize cleans up your WordPress database, removing all the data that is unnecessary. It has a manual and an automated setting, meaning that you can manually choose what to delete, or you can set it to run automatically so you never have to worry about database bloat again. All you have to do is go to the settings page, tell the plug-in how long it should save the backup information, and then tell it how frequently it should run.

★ Visit WP – Optimize 

How to Optimize Your WordPress Database with One Click

Akismet

Comment spam is still a major issue, and trying to handle it all manually is impossible. This is where Akismet comes in, as this plug-in has the ability to stop comments that appeared to be spam from being posted on your blog.

Don’t worry, because you’ll be able to review every comment the plug-in flagged or removed, and restore it if it made a mistake. No, Akismet is not infallible, but it does a very good job and will save you a lot of time and aggravation.

★ Visit Akismet 

What is Akismet and Why You Should Start Using it Right Away

Smush Image Compression and Optimization

WP-Smush-WordPress-Plugin for image optimisation

Images are often responsible for slow page load speeds, which is why you absolutely need Smush Image Compression and Optimization. This plug-in optimizes your images so they take up as little storage space as possible without compromising quality.

This is another plug-in from the WPMU DEV team, but there is a free version available, as well as a premium one. WP Smush PRO, of course, comes included in the WPMU DEV membership, along with Hummingbird and a host of other plug-ins. Even if you aren’t getting the membership, we still advise you get the free version as it will do wonders to speed up your site.

★ Visit WP Smush 

BJ Lazy Load

bj-lazy-load-plugin-wordpress for image optimisation

BJ Lazy Load can also help increase the speed of your website. What it does is to put a placeholder instead of the images that aren’t on screen. So, the images only load when they come close to appearing in the screen of the browser, without forcing the visitor to wait for everything on the page to load before they can see the page properly.

★ Visit BJ Lazy Load 

How to Implement WordPress Lazy Load on Images and Videos

Plug-Ins to Keep Your Website Safe

Website security is one of those essential things that you can’t overlook. Not only do you run the risk of having your site hacked or it simply breaking down, you also run the risk of hurting your visitors, which is the last thing you want to do. This is why we consider security plug-ins to be absolutely essential elements for any website.

Force Strong Passwords

No matter how often we’re told that we need a strong password for every account we have, we still have a tendency to choose the simplest one that we can remember. And this can expose your site to major issues, especially if there are other people with administrative rights.

The Force Strong Passwords plug-in ensures that everyone with an account on your website has to use a strong password, because it won’t let them register without one. Once you have the plug-in installed, you won’t have to worry about anyone accessing your site without authorization because some special snowflake used password as the password.

Force Strong Passwords 

RapID Secure Login

To really secure your website, you can also set up this plug-in that requires two factor authentication people to sign in. The advantage is that it’s pretty easy to do with this plug-in, and in no time at all you can be using your smart phone to sign into your site. Install RapID Secure Login and you’ll greatly reduce the chances of anyone gaining unauthorized access to your website.

★ Visit RapID Secure Login 

BruteProtect

BruteProtect wordpress website

An increasingly common problem webmasters experience is attacks from unwanted bots. The BruteProtect plug-in is quite defective at blocking many of these bots from attacking long before they managed to gain access to your site. However, note that it’s not perfect, and it certainly shouldn’t be the only security plug-in you rely on.

Note that if you install the JetPack plug-in, BruteProtect comes included, so you won’t have to download it separately.

★ Visit BruteProtect 

Wordfence

wordfence wordpress plugin

Wordfence is one of the most popular security plug-ins available, with over 1 million active installs, and for good reason. The developers of the plug-in have a database with every version of WordPress as well as every theme and plug-in that has ever been part of the directory. This way, when you run a scan, the plug-in can compare the original files from the developer’s server with the ones that are on your server, which allows it to detect any issues. If it does find any problems, you can replace the broken files with the original ones, even if you don’t have a backup of them yourself.

So, Wordfence can scan your site, find any potential problems including things such as malware, and identified files in your WordPress folder, updates you haven’t made yet, comments that have URLs which are not deemed safe, and much more. It also comes with a firewall that helps stop attacks, and features a whole host of other tools.

It is a great security plug-in that we highly recommend, and has free and premium versions available.

★ Visit Wordfence 

WordFence Review – Is It Really The Best WordPress Security Plugin?

Defender

Defender wordpresss security plugin

Defender is also an excellent security plug-in that comes from the WPMU DEV team. In other words, if you opt for Hummingbird, you will also be able to use Defender within the same subscription price.

The security plug-in does pretty much what the premium version of Wordfence does, such as allowing you to scan for vulnerabilities, but it also allows you to clean up existing issues with one click. It also worked to improve the security of your site to make sure catastrophes don’t happen again.

★ Visit Defender 

BackupBuddybackupbuddy-wordpress-plugin

As the name implies, this plug-in creates a backup of your entire WordPress website, which it then stores in the cloud, using the service of your choice, including Dropbox, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud and more, you even have the option of emailing the backups to yourself.

While BackupBuddy is an extremely popular plug-in, it is a premium one. There are a few pricing options to cover a wide range of budgets, which you can find here.

★ Visit BackupBuddy 

How to Keep Your WordPress Content Safe with BackupBuddy

BackWPup

This is a free WordPress backup plug-in and while not as effective as BackupBuddy, it is still a good option if you don’t have the budget for a premium plug-in.

★ Visit BackWPup 

Snapshot Pro

snapshot pro plugin for wordpress backups

As promised, were including the offering from the WPMU DEV team, which you will get as part of your membership to their site. Snapshot Pro does everything you’d expect from a backup plug-in, but it takes things a step further by treating backups to your backups, ensuring that if something happens to the original backup, you will still be able to restore your website.

★ Visit Snapshot Pro 

WordPress Plug-Ins That Are Good to Have

From our point of view, the only absolutely essential plug-ins you need are for security and speed. There many other useful plug-ins which we will cover, but our opinion is that sites can survive without them, whereas speed and security are nonnegotiable.

However, we feel this guide would be incomplete if we didn’t look at a series of plug-ins that can make your life easier in many respects, helping to automate some tasks and improving the user experience overall. We reiterate, though, that these plug-ins, while they may be good to have an certainly useful, are not absolutely mandatory, though we are sure many will disagree with us.

Also Read: How to Choose a Web Hosting Service For Your Website?

Plug-Ins for Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization has changed a lot since the days when keywords reigned supreme, which is made many SEO plug-ins redundant. Nowadays, the best SEO is all about creating great quality content. However, that doesn’t mean the following plug-ins won’t be useful, and they might give you a slight competitive advantage.

All-In-One SEO Pack

A little while ago, we would have said the Yoast plugin ruled supreme in the SEO space, but, unfortunately, the latest updates have pretty much broken it. And support for the free version of the plugin is practically non-existent.

The good news is that All-In-One SEO Pack is still a great plug-in and highly popular, considering it has more than 1 million active installs. Plus, the developers care and do provide support, even for the free version. This plug-in has everything you’d expect from an SEO plug-in, but also allows you to activate only the features you want to use. It also comes with a built-in XML sitemap generator, which means one less plug-in for you to install.

★ Visit All-In-One SEO Pack 

Beginners Guide for All in One SEO Pack

SmartCrawl

This is the WPMU DEV premium plug-in for SEO. As you’d expect, it does everything that All-In-One SEO Pack does, but also includes reports from the SEO industry from Moz, as well as automated keyword linking and a number of other features. Like with all other WPMU DEV plug-ins, you get access to it under the same membership.

★ Visit SmartCrawl 

All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets

all in one rich snippet wordpress plugin

You know the cool review stars, video thumbnails and other useful pieces of information you see next to a search result? Well, if you want your entry in the SERPs to show up the same, helping you set yourself apart from the competition, then use this plug-in.

★ Visit All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets 

SEMRush

This is a useful plug-in to spy on your competition. It lets you figure out what keywords they are paying for, which ones they are ranking for and much more. It’s a good way to improve your marketing and SEO strategies so you might eventually outrank the competition.

While these SEO plugins are useful, we have to say again that if your content is poor, no plug-in can help you rank near the top of the SERPs. Conversely, great content will help you get to the top, even without these plug-ins.

★ Visit SEMRush 

Plug-ins for Images, Site Design and More

WordPress allows you to do a lot to create a great looking site, but there are some plug-ins that can make certain tasks easier.

Envira Gallery

envira gallery wordpress plugin

WordPress makes it relatively easy to create galleries for images, but they aren’t exactly what we call impressive. Envira Gallery, on the other hand, gives you the tools you need to put together stunning galleries that will impress everyone. You can put together as many galleries as you like, place them anywhere you like, build albums, and even set the images to open up in pop-ups, and that’s not all. It’s a very useful plug-in.

★ Visit Envira Gallery 

Gallery

This plug-in makes it easy to work with images, allowing you to edit and add images for different sizes on different screens, making them fully responsive. It’s a very useful plug-in that allows you to do a lot with image files, including helping improve page load speed thanks to the responsive images.

★ Visit Gallery 

TablePress

If you want to use relatively good-looking tables on your website, you will need TablePress. It not only allows you to create tables that look good, but also tables that can be searched and filtered, which you can’t really do on your own, unless you have a tech streak a mile wide.

All you have to do is install the plug-in and use the options to put together any table you want. You can even import or export tables from spreadsheets, edit a cell or more, hide columns or rows, and use a host of other options to create the perfect table.

★ VisitTablePress 

BeaverBuilder

beaverbuilder wordpress page builder plugin

BeaverBuilder is an effective page builder that allows you to create lightweight pages that load quickly. You can create layouts that are as simple or as complicated as you like, allowing you to customize themes to your heart’s desire.

However, if you find that BeaverBuilder isn’t helping you achieve what you want, then you might want to get a professional to do the work for you because other plug-ins will make things much worse.

★ Visit BeaverBuilder 

Also Read: HostGator vs Bluehost review – Which is the best hosting?

CSS Hero

If you don’t know CSS but would still like to make changes to your site’s design, then you will need CSS Hero. This plug-in will let you change any WordPress theme as you see fit without you having to know anything about CSS. CSS Hero let’s you make changes using a WYSIWG interface, so it’s almost like using a relatively simple graphics program to make changes to your site, which CSS Hero “translates” into the CSS that WordPress understands. It’s a pretty great plug-in, but it is a premium one. However, at only $29 per year for a site, it’s still a much better deal than trying to learn CSS.

★ Visit SEMRush 

Soliloquy

Soliloquy-Wordpress-Slider-Plugin

If you love sliders but have never managed to create a decent looking one, then Soliloquy is the plug-in for you. It allows you to create beautiful sliders you can use to present anything from your products and services to different posts and announcements. The sky’s the limit, except that with Soliloquy, it will always be a beautiful one.

★ Visit Soliloquy 

Display Widgets

Display Widgets lets you modify the content of your sidebar so you can have different sidebars on different categories and different pages. You don’t need to know anything about coding to modify the sidebars however you like. You simply click on a checkbox to tell the plug-in where it should display widgets and where it shouldn’t and you’re done.

★ Visit Display Widgets 

Content Aware Sidebars

Content Aware Sidebars takes things to the next level and allows you to, essentially, convert your sidebars into anything you like. You can even use a contact form inside the sidebar, if you so choose. It’s an excellent plug-in with a lot of functionality and is generally considered to be very robust option with clean code that is unlikely to break anything else on your site.

★ Visit Content Aware Sidebars  

How to Display Content Aware Sidebars for Any WordPress Page or Post?

Plug-Ins for Site Management and Troubleshooting

Sometimes things go wrong, and sometimes you just need a plug-in to make certain tasks easier to perform.

Broken Link Checker

Broken links are unavoidable, especially on sites that have been around for a while. You link to a piece of content that gets moved wrong or is taken down without you knowing and you end up with a broken link. The problem is that broken links can irritate your visitors. They’re looking forward to learning more, click on the link and… nothing. It can be disappointing and annoying, and it’s not something you want your visitors feeling all the time.

The Broken Link Checker plug-in goes through your site on a regular basis, finding any broken links. It will send you an email of the broken links it found as well as their location, making it easy for you to fix the problem quickly and easily.

★ Visit Broken Link Checker 

WP Migrate DB

If you’ve ever wanted to change hosting companies, you are probably aware that one of the things you have to do is to move your site to the new server. It might even be why you decided against moving to a new host, even if it was a much better option, simply because the idea of migrating your site was too daunting.

The good news is that you can use WP Migrate DB to move your site quickly and easily. There is a free version available, but it doesn’t handle media files, meaning you will have to move those manually. The Pro version of the plug-in will migrate your media files as well as everything else, and even has a multisite add-on. So, if you never again want to be beholden to one host for fear of the migration process, then you definitely need to get WP Migrate DB. To really make life easy, go for the Pro version and move everything with a few clicks of the mouse.

★ Visit WP Migrate DB 

Migrating WordPress with WP Migrate DB and DB Pro

Safe Redirect Manager

Setting up redirects at some point in time will become a necessary, regardless of what type of website you are running. Once upon a time, the only way to do it was through server configs or .htaccess files, but things have changed. Safe Redirect Manager is an excellent plug-in that helps you manage your redirects so that any structural change you make, including deleting posts and changing permalinks, will be covered and your visitors won’t end up in the wrong place. Just a few clicks of the mouse, and you’re done.

Visit Safe Redirect Manager 

Plug-ins for Marketing

This is where we’ve included all those plug-ins that you’ll find useful to improve the user experience, generate vital marketing information and more, all with the end-result of improving your conversion rates and making your website even more successful.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)

YARPP is a powerful plug-in that combs through your content and displays other posts users might find relevant, based on the current post they are reading. It’s a great plug-in because users tend to spend more time on a site because of it, as most will click to see a related post to the content they are currently reading, especially if you are providing excellent quality content.

This plug-in can also give you the opportunity to earn a little extra cash if you choose to show sponsored content on your page. However, if the sponsored content isn’t good quality, you could end up annoying your visitors and might be better off ignoring this option. The only way to figure out if it works well is to actually test it.

★ Visit Yet Another Related Posts Plugin 

Google Analytics +

Google Analytics + is an excellent plug-in if you want to understand your traffic better. It brings all the information in the Google Analytics tool to your dashboard, making it easy for you to see things like number of visits, how many page views you get, what your bounce rate is, how long people spend on your site on average and more. All this is vital information if you want to improve your site, but it’s also essential when you are negotiating prices for advertising.

★ Visit Google Analytics + 

Good Reviews for WordPress

You likely already know how powerful testimonials are. They are the equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing online because they are personal endorsements from people who have used your product or service. This makes other people even more open to the idea of doing business with you, because you’ve essentially been validated by their peers.

Good Reviews for WordPress allows you to stylishly display testimonials on your site. It’s a great plug-in because it’s pretty lean and doesn’t negatively impact the speed with which your pages load. It’s also pretty easy to use and won’t break your site.

★ Visit Good Reviews  

Tweet Dis

Giving people the opportunity to share your content is powerful, because, once again, they’re personally endorsing whatever you’ve published. To take things a step further, though, you need to build interactive content. You know, when you see a Twitter button allowing you to tweet a particular statement within an article? That’s now known as interactive content because your visitors can actually interact with your content. And it’s very powerful.

With Tweet Dis you can create a variety of tweets that visitors can immediately post, such as box tweets, inline tweets and more. You can also change the various themes it offers to suit your style. So, not only does this plug-in make it easier for you to get more shares, and therefore more visitors, but it also helps to further break up the article, making it more visually appealing. And, of course, it’s easy to use. Simply highlight the text you want to use and click on the Tweet Dis button. Select the options you want and you’re done. It takes about half a minute but the return is immeasurable.

★ Visit Tweet Dis 

Jetpack

jetpack wordpress plugin

As previously mentioned, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to share your content, so you have to give them the buttons to do it. Jetpack has an amazing module for social sharing. Though it has a lot of other features – some might say too many – it’s worth installing for the social aspect alone. It has some great buttons but also comes with a wide range of other features as well that make it a great option.

★ Visit Jetpack 

Should I use the WordPress Jetpack plugin on my site? 

Comments Not Replied To

This is a great plug-in for large blogs as it allows you to see, from the dashboard, what comments haven’t been replied to by the author of the post. Comments can add up quickly and it’s easy to miss a few. You might not think it’s a big issue, but for the commenters who have fallen through the cracks, we can guarantee it’s a massive problem. They’ll think they’re not worth your time, even though others are, and they will stop visiting your site.

Comments Not Replied To solves this problem. It reduces the chances of you missing a comment to zero, and it makes your life much easier.

★ Visit Comments Not Replied To 

Commenter Emails

Commenter Emails is a great plug-in that allows you to build a list of emails from the comments people have left. This is powerful because you can segment your email list and create personalized offers for people who comment regularly on your blog. This will not only encourage them to keep commenting, but will also entice others to come out of the woodwork and stop lurking.

★ Visit Commenter Emails 

Contact Form 7

A basic thing in marketing is making sure your customers can get in touch with you, and that’s precisely what Contact Form 7 does. It lets you create contact forms with a few clicks of the mouse. However, the results are relatively simple and not all that attractive.

★ Visit Contact Form 7 

Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms is a premium alternative to Contact Form 7 that allows you to create stylish contact forms. The fact is that you can use this plug-in to build any type of form you can imagine, from the simple contact form to complicated billing forms. And that’s precisely why it’s so powerful and is still the best on the market.

★ Visit Gravity Forms 

Optin Monster

Though not everyone is fond of pop-ups, the statistics show that they are highly effective. Some say they are the best way for you to get those conversion rates way up. Like with any other tool, if used properly and without being irritating, your visitors won’t mind. In fact, they might be happy they can sign up without having to go to a different page.

Optin Monster is one of the most cost-effective premium plug-ins for pop-up creation. You can pretty much create the pop-up any way you like, as the plug-in gives you the ability to modify any aspect of it.

Though we’d love to be able to recommend a free version, there really isn’t a free plug-in that can come close to what Optin Monster does.

★ Visit Optin Monster 

How to Integrate OptinMonster with WordPress

Leadpages

Leadpages is an alternative to Optin Monster. It’s more expensive than the latter, but the advantage is that you can also make landing pages with it. And the landing pages Leadpages helps you create come out looking really good and have been proven to generate really good conversion rates. So, the higher price is definitely worth it considering you can do so much more with Leadpages.

★ Visit Leadpages 

Plugins for Content

The following plug-ins making managing your content much easier, and some of them even help you create some of that content.

Better Internal Link Search

Better-Internal-Links wordpress plugins

Internal links aren’t just vital for SEO, but they also improve the user experience by serving up related content to visitors. A good internal linking scheme will even keep visitors on your site longer simply because they know they have more content to read that will interest them.

Now, it’s a good idea to create all your internal links manually, even though there are automated tools to help you. What Better Internal Link Search does, though, is make it easier for you to find the best content to link to. The WordPress search box for internal links isn’t all that great, especially for sites with lots of content. Better Internal Link Search returns more accurate results, but also allows you to search among your drafts and even search some external sites. It’s a really useful tool to make internal linking much easier.

★ Visit Better Internal Link Search 

Coscheduler

CoSchedule-WordPress-Editorial Calendar plugin

Coscheduler is a premium plug-in that allows you to see at a glance what your posting schedule is, both on your site and on social media. It loads up an awesome calendar that displays everything you have scheduled. You can drag stuff around to change the time and dates, edit the posts, copy them and just, generally, make sure everything is in order so you are serving your visitors with great content regularly.

★ Visit Coscheduler 

Simple Page Ordering

Changing the order of pages in your WordPress dashboard is an exercise in cruel and unusual torture. To do so, you have to change page’s order number, which gets really old, really fast. Simple Page Ordering is a plug-in that lets you order your pages by simply dragging and dropping them, making life so much easier.

All you have to do is drag and drop pages in your dashboard to make sure they are displaying in the order you want them to, without having to go through any complicated or tedious process.

★ Visit Simple Page Ordering  

WP Help

If you need to set up an FAQ section, or create a set of guidelines, or essentially put together any form of documentation, then WP Help is the best option. Not only does it make it simple to put together any sort of internal documents you need, it can also sync them across a multisite network, which can certainly save a lot of time and aggravation.

★ Visit WP Help 

So, this turned out to be a pretty long list of plugins. And the fact is that there are many more great plug-ins out there that can help you do anything under the sun. However, if you load your site up with too many, you could end up slowing it down significantly. Furthermore, sometimes plug-ins don’t play nice together, and can cause even more problems.

We recommend starting with the essential ones and then only including the ones from the good to have list that you really, truly need. Remember, in some cases, we’ve provided a few alternatives to achieve the same thing, so you definitely shouldn’t be installing all the plug-ins in this list.

 

15 Mistakes That Slow Down Your Site Speed And What to Do About Them

Have you ever wanted to pull your hair out in frustration waiting for a site to load and, in the end, just gave up?

Considering that the average site speed has increased by 22%, with the average page load time being nearly 8 seconds, according to a Radware report, we’ve all had to deal with this situation more often than we care to admit.

The fact is that the internet has made us impatient and we expect a fast page load speed, regardless of what site we are visiting. The problem is that while for some people site speed is just an irritant as they have many other options, for business owners, it can significantly impact your sales and profitability.

A number of studies have discovered a direct connection between website performance and revenues. While it should be obvious that a slow site will affect your sales, there are also statistics to support this fact, beyond just common sense. Thus, the Aberdeen Group conducted a study and found that a delay of only 1 second results in 11% fewer page views, a 16% decline in customer satisfaction and a 7% drop in conversion rates.

Amazon took things to the next level and conducted their own study, only to find that for every 100 milliseconds of site speed optimization, their revenue increased by 1%, which is a lot of money when you consider the size of the company’s turnover.

Walmart also discovered this connection when they saw that their conversion rate increased by 2% for a 1-second faster website loading speed.

So, clearly, improving the speed of your website is vital. It’s essential to improving your ranking in Google’s search engine pages but also to improving conversions and, generally, to not irritating your customers. In this article, we’re going to take an in-depth look at 15 mistakes you may be making that are slowing down your site speed and how you can fix them.

Before we start, though, it’s important to note that an Akamai study found that 47% of consumers expect website loading speeds to be 2 seconds or below and 40% will leave a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. In other words, the ideal situation would be to get your site loading time to 2 seconds or below, but if that’s not possible – though it should be if you follow the advice in this article – then make sure it doesn’t exceed 3 seconds.

There are a number of sites offering site speed tests such as Pingdom and Gmetrix, so finding out how fast your site is won’t be difficult. Now, on to the mistakes that could be putting a serious dent in your website performance and, implicitly, in your sales.

Memory Intensive Pages

Once upon a time, 30kb was considered the ideal size for a web page. Nowadays, that is considered tiny. While you might never be able to get your pages down to that size, it is good practice to keep them as small as possible.

After all, a page that’s 3MB is going to load a lot slower than one that is 1MB. So, if you want to optimize your site’s loading time, then you need to make every page of your site as small as possible.

Some of the things you can do to reduce the size of memory-intensive pages include combining CSS files, optimizing images, minifying JavaScript files and making a number of tweaks on the front end. Ideally, though, when you are first building your site, you should always be asking yourself if you need all the content you are trying to load. Is it necessary or just vanity? After all, 10 large images in a slideshow on your homepage aren’t mandatory, especially when 4 or 5 smaller ones will do just as well.

To make things a little clearer, we decided to show you what a difference you can make by reducing the size of your pages and how much you can improve loading speed.

Below, you can see the speed of a page we tested before optimizing it, and then after.

Initial speed of a webpage

Before Memory Intensive

Speed after optimizing

After Memory Intensive

Initially, it took 3.75S to load this webpage with a size of 3.8MB. After optimization, we reduced the size of the page to 856.6 KB, resulting in a load time of 1.22S. In other words, the page loads more than three times faster now.

This page size was achieved by optimizing images, minifying CSS, combining JavaScript and CSS files, and removing unwanted elements from the page.

As the above test shows, you can do quite a lot to improve the speed of your website. You just have to be realistic with all the elements on your page. Loading all that content might make your site look amazing, but it will take so long to load that no one will ever see it. So, isn’t it better to have a slightly less amazing website, but one that your visitors will actually stick around to see?

Poorly Optimized Images

Check out 10 slow websites and 9 of them – we think all 10 but we’re being kind – will have a ton of images that are huge and haven’t been optimized at all. A full-size image will take up a lot of bandwidth when it loads, especially if you’re using extremely high-quality images, which are usually ridiculously big.

For example, a very high-quality, large image can be 3.1 MB. That’s for a single image. We were talking earlier of web pages that were 3 MB for the whole page taking too long to load. If a single image on a web page is 3.1 MB and you have 6 of them, you can wave goodbye to anyone sticking around for the three hours it takes your site to load.

Image optimisation and Google page speed score
Google page speed score being affected by unoptimized images.

So, you need to resize your images, reduce their quality, and even consider changing the format of the image. These will all help to reduce the size of the file. And don’t worry, because reducing the quality of the image won’t make it look bad. The difference between a 72-dpi image (which is the recommended quality for the web) and a 300dpi one is so small to the naked eye that it doesn’t make much of a difference. However, the difference in file size is tremendous.

For example, a 2380 x 1260-pixel image at 300 dpi is 1.6 MB, whereas an 800 x 424-pixel image at 72 dpi is 250 kb. That’s a big difference in size, and it will have just as big an impact on your site load speed. And, note, that even at 800 x 424 pixels, that’s still a pretty big image for the internet.

Load time of images before optimisation

Speed before image optimisation

Load time of images after optimisation

Speed after image optimisation

After optimizing the image, we were able to reduce size of the image from 600KB to 33KB and the load time from 1.2S to just 56ms. And keep in mind that most people have much larger images to start with. So, if going from 600KB to 33KB can lead to your image loading more than 20 times faster, imagine what will happen when you do the same for all those 2-3MB images on your website.

Here’s a link to a Comprehensive guide on image optimisation which will you help you in this process.

Improperly Scaling Images

In the previous point, we talked about reducing the scale of your images to lower the file size. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. If you’ve been scaling your images directly in HTML, you’re only making it look smaller and not affecting the file size in any way. It will still take just as long to load, even though you see a smaller picture. This is because you’re still using the same bloated source file.

Instead, use a graphics program to scale the image and create a new source file. You can certainly scale it down further in HTML if you want, but it makes more sense to do so directly in the graphics program because every kilobyte you save will go towards increasing the speed of your website.

Size of the image after scaling using HTML

Scaled image optimisation before

Size of the image after scaling the original file externally

Scaled image optimisation after

As you can see, when you scale the image using HTML, the actual file size doesn’t change. However, it will change when you scale the original file in an external graphics program.

In our case, the size of the image decreased considerably from 207 KB to 30 KB when we scaled the original image in a graphics program and only then uploaded it to the site.

Too Many Redirects

If you have too many redirects on your website, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Using redirects is like sending someone to a specific store, only for them to discover it’s closed down and moved clear across the city. How many people do you think are going to trek across the city to get to that store? If you answered almost none, then you would be completely accurate. They’ll just find another store.

Google page speed and redirection
Landing page redirects can directly impact your Google page speed score.

And that’s exactly what will happen with your website. A redirect creates additional HTTP requests and increases load times. Essentially, it’s like loading a page twice, meaning that you’re doubling the load speed. People are not that patient and will go elsewhere, so you need to minimize redirects as much as possible.

If you have a responsive website, you can’t avoid them completely because you do have to send users to the mobile version of your site. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go crazy with them. And other than those redirects, you shouldn’t have any on your site at all.

Redirection and its impact on load time

The above result shows that redirects create additional requests, leading to an increase in response time of up to 0.6S, which adds up to your loading speed.

There are also ways you can redirect users to the mobile version of your website without sacrificing speed, but we’ll be covering that in another post.

Also, have a look at this article on Redirects and how it affects your website speed?

Not Caching Your Site

Caching your site helps improve page load times significantly for returning visitors. When you have caching enabled, your web page will save its static files, like images and HTML documents, in temporary files on the visitor’s computer. Thus, when they revisit the site, all those files can be loaded virtually instantly because the database doesn’t have to retrieve them from a remote location, thereby reducing the overall load time of the page.

Tenni Theurer, who used to work at Yahoo!, conducted a test and found that a page with as many as 30 components and a 2.4-second load speed took only 0.9 seconds to load thanks to caching as it only had to download 3 components. So, clearly, caching makes a significant difference and you should have it enabled on your website.

Below, you can see how caching played an important role in decreasing the load time of a webpage.

Before caching 

Load time before caching

After caching

Load time after caching

As you can see, before we enabled browser caching, the page took 3.75s to load. After caching was activated, the load speed reduced to 1.22s, meaning that the page loaded more than three times faster.

To discover how you can enable caching, check out this post.

Wrong Server Location

Though the internet is supposed to be global, the fact is that distance does make a difference. If all your visitors are in the United States and the server storing your website is in China, it will affect the speed of your website.

Data does move quickly, but it still has to physically travel from point A to point B. It’s just like with long-distance calls, which take a little longer to connect than local calls. With websites, though, it’s even more complicated.

Your US visitor clicks on the site, the request travels to the server in China, has to wait to gain access to the server, and then has to travel all the way back to the US user. In relative terms, it doesn’t take all that long, even when the server is on the other side of the planet, but when you’re dealing with seconds, a few milliseconds up or down can make a significant difference.

Now, by their very definition, websites are supposed to be accessed from all over the world, and it simply isn’t feasible to have your website on a server in every country where you get visitors from. What you can do is start with your target market and location, then analyze your traffic and determine where the bulk of it comes from, and, based on that information, you can decide where it would be most beneficial to have your website based.

We tested a website hosted on SiteGround web hosting from two different locations, i.e,  Dallas, USA and Stockholm, Sweden. It should be noted that SiteGround’s servers are located in Dallas and not in Sweden.

The result was that a visitor from the US was able to load the website faster than someone from Sweden. In the US, the page loaded in 1.08s, compared to 2.96s for the visitor from Sweden. In other words, the latter loaded almost three times slower than the former.

Website Speed test of visitors coming from USA

Server location testing from USA

Website Speed test of visitors coming from STOCKHOLM

Server location testing Stockholm

The above is why it is advisable to choose a hosting service whose servers are located in the region that generates the majority of your traffic. Moreover, Google will rank your website better for the area where your website is hosted because of faster load speeds, among other factors.

Also read: Bluehost and HostGator Web hosting review 2017.

Poorly Configured Servers

The server where your website is hosted plays a huge role in page load speed. When a user clicks on your website, the first thing that happens is that their browser pings the server, asking for the information and data it needs to load your site.

If the server is poorly configured and has performance issues, the response time won’t be stellar. No matter how much you optimize your site, if the server is slow, it will severely slow down your site.

Unfortunately, if the server is slow, there’s not much you can do about it because the web hosting company you are using is to blame. A budget service will usually put your website on a server with tons of other websites, which means you’re sharing the same resources – and why these cheap plans are referred to as shared hosting.

Things get even worse because these hosting companies try to get as many sites on one server as they can to keep their prices low but still make a profit. To do this, they disable various important features, such as KeepAlive and compression.

Compression makes the files your server sends out smaller, thereby improving the transfer speed and, implicitly, the load time of your webpages. HTTP KeepAlive is a function that allows multiple HTTP requests to be sent and received via the same TCP connection, ensuring all subsequent requests are responded to much faster.

So, check if these two features have been disabled by your web host. If they have, all you can do is switch hosts.

Related: Which types of web hosting service is right fit for your website ?

Going with the Cheapest Hosting Option

Choosing the most advantageous hosting package is important for your budget, but you have to consider that the cheapest plan could be losing you money. If you have a large web store with over 5,000 products, for example, a $5 hosting plan will not be enough to keep things running smoothly.

You might be saving a few hundred dollars per year on hosting by going with cheap hosting, but you are potentially losing thousands – or even more – because your site takes forever to load. Not only will visitors not hang around and go to another site, but you’ll also find that the few who do push through the first time will not return.

You are much better off choosing a hosting plan that is more expensive but ensures the best loading times for your website.

We tested two websites for their server response time, one hosted with SiteGround on their Growbig plan (a lower level plan) and another with SiteGround on their Gogeek (a higher level plan) and here’s the result.

Website Hosted on SiteGround GrowBig Plan(Lower level)

Web hosting low plan account details Web hosting lower plans response time

Website Hosted on SiteGround GoGeek Plan(Higher level)
Web Hosting Higher plans account details web hosting higher plan response time

As you can see, hosting your site on a higher level plan from SiteGround loaded in 219ms, compared to 1.67s on the lower level plan. That is a significant difference in server response times, which once again proves that you really do get what you pay for.

Check out this post, SiteGround vs Bluehost web hosting comparison.

Forgetting About Dedicated Services

There are a variety of dedicated services you can use for various components of your website to reduce the load on the server. For example, instead of loading videos directly onto your website, which would mean more information traveling through the same connection, off the same server, you can use a service like YouTube or Vimeo.

You can do this for a number of other elements too, including comments on posts, for which you can use IntenseDebate or Disqus, or images, which you should be using a Content Delivery Network for.

So, if you have a site that gets a lot of traffic and is video- and image-heavy, consider using these third-party dedicated services to significantly improve your website’s performance.

Bloated Coding

Bloated coding can significantly reduce the load times of your web pages. Too many spaces, empty lines, inline stylings and a boatload of unnecessary comments will increase the size of the stylesheet. The bigger the stylesheet, the longer things will take to load.

So, if you’re using a theme and are uncomfortable with looking at the code, consider switching to a more streamlined theme. You might have to pay slightly more for it, but the faster load times will be worth it.

If you’re fine tinkering behind the scenes, then remove all the bloat, which will compress the code and make the file smaller. This will, of course, reduce the load time. Technically speaking, this cleanup is known as minifying and, if you don’t want to spend so much time doing it manually, the good news is that there are a number of tools and plugins online that will do it for you automatically. One such tool is WorPress Hummingbird Plugin, which will seamlessly minify all your Javascript and CSS files as seen in the picture below.

Minifying using Hummingbird Plugin
Hummingbird plugin automatically minifies all your CSS and Javascript files in one click.

Too Many Elements on the Page and Excessive File Requests

We’ve already discussed how large files will slow down the speed of your website, but it’s not just their size that’s the problem – it’s also how many of them you have. Consider that every element on a web page, no matter how small, requires a request to go out from the visitor’s computer to the server to load. That means every social sharing button, every picture, every JavaScript snippet and every CSS file will only be served via a new file request.

A server can only respond to a limited number of requests every second. So, let’s imagine that you have 35 elements on your homepage, which means that it makes 35 file requests to the server every time someone loads it. Going further, let’s say that you have quite a bit of traffic and 250 people decide to access the page at the same time. This means the server gets requests from 250 sources to load 35 elements or 8,750 file requests at once. A small server won’t be able to handle the load and people will not hang around for more than 3 seconds, waiting for your server to get its act together.

The solution is to reduce the number of elements on your pages, keeping only those that are strictly necessary as well as combining others. For example, multiple style sheets can be merged into a single one, reducing the number of requests the server has to respond to.

Reducing the number of elements on your page is good practice, but if you’re still having trouble with your site speed, also consider changing your hosting plan to something that can better handle the volume of traffic and requests, or completely changing your web host to one with better servers.

For more tips on choosing a web hosting company, check out this post.

Excessive Use of Plugins

If you’ve used WordPress for any length of time, you’ve probably already discovered that there are a gazillion different plugins for everything you could even contemplate doing with your website. And you’ve probably got quite a few of them running in the background.

While many of them are certainly useful and some are downright essential, you have to remember that each plugin makes a separate file request and each of them has JavaScript that needs to be loaded, as well as a CSS file.

What does that mean? Even more file requests your server has to handle and more files that needed to be downloaded. So, the more plugins you have running, the longer your pages will take to load.

The solution is to minimize the number of plugins you have running. Ask yourself which ones you need and, where you can, try to get around using a plugin.

And don’t just forget about them. Make sure that every 6 months or so, you review all the plugins you have active and make sure everything is running properly and they’re all doing their job. The ones that aren’t have to be removed because WordPress plugins that haven’t been updated are often responsible for security issues. They also waste space and can cause various other technical issues, including crashes.

For a comprehensive list of essential WordPress plugins, check out this post.

Forgetting to Enable Compression

Previously, we mentioned some web hosts will deactivate the compression feature to save space and fit as many sites as possible on a single server. However, it’s not always the web host’s fault. If you aren’t using compression, then you are hurting your load times significantly.

A server can compress a file using a tool called Gzip before it sends it to be downloaded, making it quite a bit smaller and reducing the bandwidth your pages require, increasing the speed with which they load significantly. Yahoo! Stated that using compression can improve the load time of your pages by approximately 70%, which is significant.

Initially, check how much Gzip compression is needed for you website using this tool CheckGzipCompression

Moreover, you dont need to be a geek to enable Gzip for your website. Place the below code in your .htaccess file and your website will compress the files for you.

<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
  # Compress HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Text, XML and fonts
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/vnd.ms-fontobject
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-opentype
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-otf
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-truetype
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-ttf
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/opentype
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/otf
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/ttf
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/x-icon
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/javascript
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
  AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml

  # Remove browser bugs (only needed for really old browsers)
  BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
  BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0[678] no-gzip
  BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
  Header append Vary User-Agent
</IfModule>

Of course, we tested the difference in load speeds before and after enabling Gzip compression, as you can see below.

Speed before Gzip compression

Speed before Gzip compression

Speed after Gzip compression

Speed after Gzip compression

Before Gzip compression, the page took 4.3s to load, and after, the load speed dropped to 3.8s. Of course, it’s clear that there’s still a lot more that needs to be done to this page to bring its load speed to an acceptable level, but that 0.5s that Gzip compression shaves off the overall load speed is impressive and a good step in the right direction.

Using an Outdated Content Management System

If you’re using a content management system like WordPress or Drupal and have been ignoring the popup asking you to install updates or switch to a new version of the program, you are causing problems you don’t need.

Developers don’t put out updates or newer versions of their software just for the sake of it, or to irritate you and give you more to do. They’re designed to improve the software, eliminating problems and improving speed. So, if you want to make sure your website is running as smoothly and as quickly as possible, make sure that your content management system has all the updates installed and is the latest version.

Not Seeking the Advice of a Professional

While there is plenty you can do on your own to improve the speed of your website, which will lead to better rankings in the SERPs, a higher conversion rate and a better experience for your users, there is much more that is best left to a professional.

You could certainly spend time trying to figure it all out on your own, but you’ll be wasting time you could otherwise use to focus on more important tasks in your business. In the long run, you’ll find that using the services of an expert will lead to results that more than offset the costs involved.

If you follow the advice in this article and correct the mistakes we covered, you are certain to see significant improvement in your website performance and page load times. A faster loading site will mean happier users, which will lead to more sales as people no longer run away from your website because it takes ages to load.