After writing our article on site speed a couple of weeks ago, we have had some interesting questions from Orangeville and area businesses about site speed issues relevant to the town. Orangeville has some unique issues due to its location – a town of about 30,000 people surrounded by a wide swath of rural area on all sides. Whether you are traveling north, south, east or west from Orangeville, as soon as you leave town, you’re in beautiful countryside whichever direction you are going. To the south and west (and to some extent, the north), the Niagara Peninsula and it’s steep inclines with low valleys are evident.
To the west, you drive through rolling farmlands until you hit the Grand River valley, and then again, as you travel further, you find the same generally flat farmland and wilderness areas.
Yet there are many people who live in small communities and on the farms that surround Orangeville. Businesses in town support these people – and the town is considered the “seat” of Dufferin County. Yet many businesses in town, when it comes to their business web design, often fail to remember these communities and farm families. Our Town Of Orangeville, even though small, has so many amenities and just about everything anyone needs, we can find right here without having to drive to the larger cities south, east and south-west of town.
So what do Orangeville businesses often forget when it comes to their websites and these rural areas that border our town?
Outside Orangeville, High-Speed Internet Can Be Spotty
While pretty much all of us in town have access to excellent quality high-speed internet (this has not always been the case though), those outside of Orangeville are not always so lucky. And when website designers create websites for Orangeville businesses, they often seem to forget this fact.
Recently, we had a conversation with a business owner who lives in a rural part of Caledon. He complained bitterly that at his home, he has no high-speed access and must drive into Orangeville in order to do online, what the rest of us in town take for granted. While his home was not connected to high-speed, his mobile internet was also extremely slow (and spotty). There are a number of reasons why many rural people do not have high-speed access including the geography of the area and the fact that it can be economically infeasible for internet providers to bring in cable, fibre, or other infrastructure that would allow for high-speed to everyone. While some people outside of Orangeville do have access to cable and other forms of broadband high-speed, you can view this map of Caledon and see just how many areas do not have this access: Broadband Gap Analysis
What Does This Mean For Your Orangeville Website Design?
Straight up – you are missing out on potential visitors and customers if your website design did not take into consideration: speed, download times, and image file sizes that are the biggest hog of website speed. People who have poor internet speed are simply not going to wait for your dozens of 5 MB images to download into their browser. First, there is seldom a need for huge images and file sizes on a website and the fact they exist is probably due to sheer laziness by the designer who did not taking the time to resize and optimize images. Yes, it does take time and if it were not for image optimization, we could probably complete a few of our web development projects much faster.
But here, we believe that doing things right, even if takes extra time, is just the right thing to do. And we also believe that thinking about those who have internet access challenges is also the right thing to do.
Not only that, but we believe it is also the right thing to do when we take into consideration the high costs of mobile data plans in Canada. Do you really want your Orangeville business web design to cost mobile users 10 bucks if they view ten of your website’s pages? This is not an exaggeration; we’ve actually seen websites where the designer used a dozen or more images on every single page that had not been optimized – and each page was worth about a dollar to download on the least expensive data plans in Canada.
Your Orangeville Business Website Design Should Have Optimized Images
If you want your website to be speedy and fast, then one of the first things to ensure is that the images on the site are compressed, and if they are JPEGs (.jpg), they should be converted to progressive jpg’s. Progressive jpg’s are smaller in file size than non-progressive and also begin to load in a browser before the full file-size has downloaded. This is helpful to those on slow connections; they are able to at least see something instead of having to wait.
While there are automated compression tools available, we honestly believe that the best way is to manually compress each image. Yes, this does take time but it is the only way to get the absolute best results. Compression does reduce image quality – but in many cases, depending on what the image is used for, we can reduce the quality down to 25% or 25Q and because of the purpose of the image, no one will notice. Recently while working with very wide images, this meant reducing file sizes of single images that were originally almost 1 MB down to around 80 Kb.
You would not want to have this much compression or quality reduction with all of your images, but doing this manually and using a significant amount of compression can hugely reduce image’s size which will mean less download time and less bandwidth for your visitors.
Your Orangeville Business Website Should Make Use Of Caching, Minification and File Compression
In addition to caching, your website should make use of gzip file compression which most, if not all, modern browsers support and most hosting companies have available in their web server configurations. Website designers should be familiar with how to enable compression in your hosting environment.
Your Website Should Make Use Of PHP Version 7
The vast majority of websites today make use of PHP, a web-based coding language. While many hosting companies no longer provide PHP versions below 5.6 (and some do not even provide that anymore), it is a fact that many applications including WordPress plugins were written for PHP 5.x. Some are afraid to move to the much faster and more secure PHP 7 version, in case something “breaks” on their website. But honestly, if your website has components that rely on the older versions of PHP, it’s time for an upgrade.
Moving to PHP 7 has been proven to significantly increase the speed of a webpage loading, after this version has been configured in the hosting environment. In addition, you get some major security advancements as well.
These are just a few of the things you can do to increase the speed of your website – which also might help you in search engine rankings. Other things to consider and that we’ll discuss later, include:
- Use A Content Distribution Network (CDN)
- Regular Website Maintenance Including Database Optimization
- Limiting The Number Of Plugins On WordPress (and other platforms) Websites
- Get Off Shared Hosting (Seriously – for many reasons, if you depend on your website) and instead use managed hosting, VPS or Dedicated Server
- Don’t be tempted by bloated themes and/or website builder tools that promise you the world but perform extremely poorly and cause site speed issues
Get Your Orangeville Website Optimized!
Many Orangeville business owners want to cut the expense of their website, website design, and hosting – but cheap often comes with it’s own costs in the long run. One of the big issues, as we’ve discussed, is that while there is a significant number of rural residents around Orangeville, they don’t have the same access to high-speed. If your in-town business wants to market to and promote your products and services to those out of town, you need to optimize your website just to be able to attract them to visiting your site.
Even on high-speed connections, people don’t want to wait more than 4 or 5 seconds for your site to load. Those who still have no high-speed access might be a little more patient, but just think of how long your site might be taking if you have not had it optimized for speed.
The Ian Scott Group has been building websites and maintaining web servers (so we definitely know what we are talking about when it comes to the hosting environment) since 1997. We’ve seen how a sudden spike in traffic to a single website in a shared hosting environment can significantly reduce server resources, and we also know how bloated themes and some site builder tools can effect website performance.
If your website is slow, we can help you speed it up (in some cases though, a complete website redesign might be required).
NEED HELP WITH YOUR WEBSITE? CALL US TODAY! (519) 940-3504