TipsDo I Really Need A New Website?

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Need A New Website? Maybe not…

Your website – go new or rebuild? Well, that’s a bit of a loaded question…

First off, I would strongly suggest taking an honest and unbiased look at your current website. There are several factors, but the 2 most important things that will almost certainly dictate the success of your website – speed and dynamic content. Speed is a pretty simple concept; the faster your site loads, the quicker and easier it is for a visitor to get the information they are looking for, the better. Dynamic is a bit different. Not only does your content need to be engaging, but it needs to look good on a mobile device. Your content should adjust to the viewers’ screen – and frankly, 85% of people who come to your site will do so on mobile devices like a smartphone or a tablet.

Speed

This one is easier to address. The most common thing I am asked to “fix” on the client’s sites is speed. If you have some basic working knowledge of how your site functions, this should be something you can tackle on your own. Today, we are going to look at a few tips and tricks!

Let’s start by getting a baseline.

There are a host of free tools out there, but the one we are going to deal with today is GT Metrix. If you go to their site, type in your website URL, it will run a free scan of your site and let you know how it is performing and list any areas that can benefit from improvement.

GT Metrix uses two scoring systems. Google’s PageSpeed and YSlow. These are guidelines, and let me start by saying it is not your end goal to reach 100 on these. You want a good user experience and frankly a few points one way or the other may not amount to much.

There are two areas of your website, the front end – that is the pretty stuff the visitors see; and the back end which is the host server. Both are important and both can be tweaked for performance. I would also strongly suggest enlisting the help of a professional for many types of optimizations, but there are a few that you can do yourself.

Today we will use one of my client’s sites for an example for you – Skylight Pros. A nice, hard-working couple who own a skylight business in Calgary.

As of today’s date (June 12, 2020), here is their report:

As we can see, all in all, this is a good site. Their PageSpeed score is 89% (average is 75%) and their YSlow Score is 86% (average is 76%).

There are more stats over to the right of these large scores, which are the sites Fully Loaded Time (how long it takes to go from a blank screen to everything being displayed for the visitor), the Total Page Size of the homepage itself, and the number of Requests that the site makes to load everything.

As the report shows, their scores are in green, indicating a good score. They have a Fully Loaded Time of 4.4 seconds (average is 7.2 seconds), their Total Page Size is 1.07 MB (average is 3.05 MB) and the number of requests their page asks for is 36 (average is 88).

This site appears to have one blemish at the moment – it scores an F (32%) on “Avoiding landing page redirects”. Now, in this case, this is because we recently changed their company website address from skylightprofessionals.ca to skylightpros.ca. So we will leave this for now until more time passes and there are not many requests for the old site address.

The most common ones I see that are scored poorly are Leverage Browser Caching, Serve Scaled Images, Defer parsing of JavaScript, Minify JavaScript, and Optimize Images.

The great news is that if you have a WordPress site, these can be solved pretty easily with simple plugins. These are all front end issues that are corrected with the website itself, rather than back end issues that require a bit more expertise.

I would strongly suggest taking the issues that GT Metrix advises and doing a simple google search. You will find tons of information on what others have done to rectify these. The most common plugins for speed would be things like WPMU DEV’s Hummingbird plugin, which can fix most of these things listed above that are common. For images, you need a strong plugin to compress the files and serve them in reduced sizes and compression. Again, I would look at WPMU DEV’s Smush plugin for this. They have trial versions to test before committing to their paid-for solutions. Other common plugins would be JetPack or WP-Optimize, which are available through your site’s Add Plugin search feature.

Hopefully, that helps you understand a bit about page speed and how to increase the likelihood of a visitor spending more time on your website learning about what you offer.

Back to our original question though – Do you need a new website? I suppose if your site isn’t responsive or built in a newer programming language, then I would suggest rebuilding it. If it’s just underperforming, a professional web developer can help you get it on the right track!

As always, if you need help and advice, or want to hire us to look at your site, we’d be more than happy to do so! Drop us a line at [email protected] or reach us through our secure contact form on our website.

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