Creative

Website Updates that Can't Wait

By Shawn Krohn, Senior Interactive Designer

May 22, 2018

Your website is an important tool that contributes to the success of your brand and your bottom line. Evaluating and updating your website on a regular basis is essential. It requires time and sometimes even money, but the benefits from doing so — especially the long term benefits, are definitely worth the effort. Fear not though, we have some helpful suggestions on where to start.

 

Strengthen Your Security

We’ve recently seen huge companies in the spotlight for reporting data leaks that expose private information. A huge step your website can take against these type of data breaches is to incorporate HTTPS and SSL.

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secured (HTTPS) is an application protocol designed to protect the privacy and integrity of data exchanged online. It uses encryption algorithms to scramble data in transit, preventing hackers from reading it as it is sent over the web. In order to enable this protocol, a Secure Sockets Layer Certificate (SSL) must be installed on your web server.

Migrating your site to HTTPS is a bit complicated, but luckily there are a lot of resources out there to help. By making sure your security is watertight, you’ll earn your customers’ trust and appreciation. You will also improve SEO ranking as Google scrutinizes security practices and prioritizes secure URLs in the search results.

 

Fix Broken Links

If you have a website, one thing that’s guaranteed over time is broken links. They may not seem like like a big deal on the surface, but deep down, a broken link is doing some serious damage to your website, the user experience and your reputation. Search engines see links as a vote for a website’s quality. Broken links impact your search engine rankings, resulting in potential loss of customers and revenue. To prevent this outcome, it’s best practice to either remove or update broken links.

Broken links are the ones that bring you to a page that says “404 error”. The most common causes of broken links are:

  • Renaming or moving a webpage and forgetting to change your internal links
  • Linking to content (PDFs, videos, etc.) that has been moved or deleted
  • Linking to a third party page and not knowing when they change the URL or move the page

There are a number of tools you can use to identify broken links, many of them free, including Google Analytics. It offers the ability to set email alerts to get broken link reports on a regular basis. Another tool is a plugin extension for Google Chrome called “Check My Links”. “Check My Links” quickly finds all the links on a web page, and checks each one for you. It highlights which ones are valid and which ones are broken, simple as that.

It isn’t normally possible to check every single one of your links on a weekly basis to make sure they are working. You also can’t be sure that one of your external links didn’t break because the source might change or remove something. What you can implement is a commitment to complete regular site audits on links and content. It’s a cost effective use of your time and there are many tools available to help you out.

 

Improve Page Load Time

A great way to increase conversions and site traffic is to evaluate the load time of your website. When users don’t get fast results for the content that they want, they usually bounce. Slow page load is an interrupting experience for the user, especially on mobile devices. It can be a source of frustration because users simply don’t have the time to wait.

One of the best ways to speed up your site is to host your media files on a content delivery network (CDN). CDNs work by hosting your files across a large network of servers around the globe. When a user visits your website, they simply download files from the server that is closest to them. This often can save up to 60% of bandwidth and cut the number of requests your website makes in half.

Another common culprit for slow page load is lots of clunky Javascript and CSS being used inefficiently. One answer to this problem is to minify your code files. The term “minify” refers to the process of removing unnecessary or redundant data for speed enhancement.

There are several ways to accomplish this. The first involves combining all of your CSS and Javascript into single files. For example, instead of calling eight individual CSS files, you simply place all of your CSS into one file. The second way is to use file compression on the code to remove all whitespace, strip out comments and optimize/shorten a few common programming patterns.

 

Final Thoughts

It’s very clear that regularly evaluating your website’s user experience, site analytics and data is valuable. Even small changes can make a big impact. As a business, you want to be sure that you give the best impression when seeking out new clients, and maintain existing ones. Keeping your website up to date is one of the most important things you can do for this.

So, ask yourself or ask your team: When was the last time you updated your site?

 


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