Evaluate your website performance. Avoid falling a victim to invisible threats.
There are many problems hidden form inexperienced view, which can cause long-term pain for the website and their owners. Think of it as a patient, with an unknown illness, and only way to find out is when it is too late and it is time to go to ER. Similarly, taking care of a website, while it is still operating well, is important to prolong its’ lifespan. At the same time, it is not a good idea to try to extend it too long, as it becomes stale and your business lags behind competition. In our long practice in Washington DC, Virginia, nationwide and around the world, same issues are present that require consideration and careful website evaluation.
Here are few important things to consider not to end up in ‘the website emergency room(or the real one, after website is down).
1. Always have a backup plan. Backup your website. Know your infrastructure.
Having a backup plan means having a physical backup version of your website as well as having an actual plan for what to do when and if your current team is incapacitated for whatever reason. Relying entirely on off the shelf technologies is not realistic in today’s corporate world. Many systems require great deal of custom development even when based on commonly used platforms. Maintaining accurate documentation and making sure that multiple people in your organization are exposed to administrating website, is critical to ensure future piece of mind. In case of something going wrong, backup of the website should be available via hosting company in a matter of hours, but it is important to be able to communicate system functionality coherently to a new development team if that becomes necessary. It is important to realize, that even in the best documented project, you must expect a significant effort and headache associated with changing development team.
2. Maintain consistency.
It is not easy for an untrained eye to notice many inconsistencies crawling around your website, especially when maintained by large number of people. Even a detailed technical and branding guideline documentation will not save many team members from frustrating marketing and creative team but sticking wrong font, wrong color in obvious places. It is important to stress to all participating team members to adhere to the existing guidelines or else. Consistency in visual design includes fonts, colors, brand usage, images, styles and more. Engage your designer to do website evaluation to pick up inconsistencies and explain to your team why it is important to adhere to guidelines.
3. Optimize coding.
Not being able to understand the subtle, yet important differences in coding strategies makes it difficult to quickly see possible deficiencies of the website. Not fully optimized website coding means less effective SEO. It also means more effort in the integration and maintenance, and more change for errors that can accumulate and bog down the website performance like nothing else.
4. Compress images well.
Yes, it still matters. With growing mobile use around the world, image compression is important factor still accounting for more then 80% of weight of many pages. Ability to understand trade-offs in image optimization strategy, can mean spending dozens of hours trying to find a needle in a hay stack that’s not actually there. Image optimization, executed correctly, can shave off hundreds of kilobytes from any page. It is especially important when dealing with large number of images as simple few steps can mean a lot of performance improvement or loss.
5. Be mindful of external scripts.
Linking to many external scripts is very common. Google analytics, marketo tracking, crm includes, and so on and so on. More external scripts you load on any page, more your pages depend on speed of others servers and often performance degrades. There are specific strategies in code optimization to ensure less dependency, but must be discussed with programming team.
6. Secure website against most common threats.
It is increasingly important to ensure that website development includes separate effort targeting future potential hacks. Increasing number of small and medium businesses suffer from variety of attacks ranging from WordPress hacks to more sophisticated and targeted. Discuss with our security and development expert how to ensure initial and ongoing threat assessment and strategies to minimize losses.