5 Ways to Get a Better, Faster, Stronger Website

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By Kristin Tarr, CloudFlare Communications Manager

Website visitors are demanding a lot from online businesses, but none more important than speed, security and fresh content. In an era of increasingly fast access and low tolerance for waiting, customers have little to no patience for a slow website. In addition to website speed, security is a main concern, as we continue to see significant increases in site hackings and identity theft. When it comes to keeping your website fresh, fast and safe, you might find that there are many tips and services out there that can help you. How do you know what works? How do you know what services are best for site speed and security? To help you weed through some of the online options, here are five best practices for keeping your customers engaged and your online business fast and safe.

Go Faster: Hands down, site speed matters. There have been many studies and research done on page load times and how long website visitors are willing to wait for a website to load. The results are all conclusive: when a website is sluggish and can’t keep up with demand, customers won’t wait around. Online businesses need their websites to run smoothly and deliver results quickly 24/7, even when demand is high. 

Services like Pingdom, Page Speed Online and Webpagetest.org help you identify bottlenecks on your site and give you insight on your site’s load time, page size and requests. There are many options out there to help increase the speed of your site. If you’re using WordPress, W3TotalCache and SuperCache are simple, easy to use plugins that help increase site speed. At the end of the day though, make sure you choose a good host. A reliable, stable hosting provider will ensure your website will perform as fast as possible and scale to meet the demands of increased traffic.

Get Healthy & Stay Safe: As an online business, you should secure your site with Secure Sockets Layer. SSL is a protocol used to provide security over the Internet and keeps your customers information safe. Be sure to keep your Content Management System platforms up to date and use strong passwords. 

Cyber crime continues to be an issue for websites big and small, with DDoS attacks as the most common attacks against a website for small-to-medium sized businesses. Don’t let an attack shut down your website and cost you customers! There are many security services out there, like CloudFlare, that offer free or inexpensive security options to help protect your website from online attacks and keep your business up and running.

KISS Often (Keep it Simple Stupid): Simple is better. Optimize content on websites to be the most easily accessible for customers. Customers appreciate content that is to the point, easy to consume and loads quickly. Remember, less is often more, and while things like social media buttons are important tools for driving traffic to your site, too many buttons (and ads for that matter) will slow your website down and make it confusing. Try to minimize the amount of widgets you install on each page to create a faster, better experience for your visitors.

Reinvent Your Content: Content is king, the more relevant content is to customers the more likely they’ll keep coming back. SMB’s need to understand their target audience and make content relevant to the customer first, search engine crawlers second.

Keep it secret, keep it safe: Passwords should be unique and never used twice. Strong passwords have upper and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation marks, and don’t use common names or dictionary words. Many services today now offer two-step authentication to increase the security of their websites. The optional feature will turn users' mobiles into a security token, making their passwords (and websites) even safer than before.

About the Author:

Kristin Tarr is CloudFlare's communications manager and oversees the company's marketing and thought leadership initiatives. Kristin hails from California's Central Coast is also a running fanatic, having run numerous half and full marathons. She graduated from CSU, Chico with a degree in Public Relations and Political Science.

 

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2 comments

Vik Chaudhary 01-28-2013 5:41 PM

To figure out how fast your website actually is, remember to test the "user experience", not the "network performance". Some of the tools mentioned here, like Pingdom, test the latter, whereas you want to know "how long, exactly, does it take the browser to load and display the page?" Webpagetest has a great tool called the "Film Strip", which lets you visually see a video of how long it takes to load a page. Another tool is Keynote's KITE (http://kite.keynote.com), which tests performance using a real IE or Firefox browser. See this post for some more information: blogs.keynote.com/.../from-network-performance-to-user-experience.html

Jack Kennard 01-29-2013 3:39 PM

I do use Wordpress as a cms so it's easy and important to use a caching system to keep stress off the database & php on the server.  And checking the html several times a year to make sure it's w3c compliant helps keep things running smoothly.  

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