Page-Load Time: What Slows it Down

Page-Load TimeEvery company wants their web site to load quickly, but little consideration is given to the main reason companies want fast load times – slow page-load time will kill conversion. Many people think about load time as it relates to the consumer’s experience. Beyond the understanding that web site visitors refuse to wait around for 12 seconds, we need to also understand what makes a web page load slowly. Here are a few basics to keep an eye on.

Flash Reduces Page-Load Time

We all know Flash looks good and provides a wonderful wow factor. Unfortunately, it also requires more time to load than traditional HTML. If your web site loads slowly, you may want to upload your Flash movie to YouTube and embed YouTube scripts (autoplay off) instead of embedding your own videos directly in the web page. Using JavaScript for graphics affects is another option. How JavaScript is used can affect load times, but it typically doesn’t slow a site’s page-load time as much as Flash can.

Audio Files Slow Page-Load Time

If you don’t absolutely need audio in your web site, don’t use it. When you do need it (for sample clips on a music download site, for example), do not have the music auto play. Allow the user to click to play the music. This way, they only experience a delay when they click to play the music … not when they first land on the web page.

Animated GIFs

A regular GIF image with no animation will be much smaller in electronic file size than an animated GIF. And of course, the larger the image file size, the slower the image will load. Again, JavaScript may be a suitable alternative.

Large Photographs and Graphics

Be it large in appearance on the screen or large in actual electronic file size, size matters … in a bad way. Simply using a different file format (jpg instead of png, or gif instead of bmp) can be the difference between an image that loads in 4 seconds and an image that loads in less than 1 second. If you create a png graphic with layers, be sure to flatten it to reduce the electronic file size before using it online. Also, remember to reduce the dpi to 72 before using a photo on the web.

There are several other factors that also slow down load times. How styles and JavaScript files are used and accessed in a site can affect page-load time. The number and type of external applications (shopping carts, social media plug-ins, etc) being loaded can also impact a site’s page-load time.

WebPageTest.org is a great site for testing your site’s load time on different browsers. Consult an experienced web design company to reduce your web site’s page-load time – your conversion depends on it.

Web Design

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Facebook IPO

Facebook IPOHaving officially filed their Facebook IPO prospectus yesterday, Facebook is going public. This is just the beginning of the IPO process. Before anything else is finalized, Facebook first has to decide which stock exchange to list their common stock on. The battle is between NASDAQ and NYSE. Yes, battle. While only Facebook can choose where to list, NYSE and NASDAQ are common rivals battling to win over (potential) big traders. Prime advertising space and co-branding possibilities are among the incentives used by both exchanges to lure the big dogs. While NYSE can grin and smile about nabbing LinkedIn and Pandora, NASDAQ has bragging rights to winning Groupon and Zynga. The rivalry between these two exchanges is fierce.

Facebook Ticker Symbol

At least the Facebook ticker symbol has been decided on and reserved, FB. Now we are left with the anxiety of wondering which stock exchange will trade the stock, what the IPO price will be, and how soon can we get our hands on Facebook stock. I’m stoked! I haven’t dabbled in the stock market for years, but Facebook certainly has my attention now.

Facebook IPO Price

How much will the Facebook IPO price be? One rumor says we can expect a price around $45 per share. However, “Facebook’s most recent estimate as of December 31 puts the per share price at $29.73” (source: Wired Magazine). Either way, the price is affordable enough for everyone to get in on the action. Facebook expects to raise $5 Billion in funding with this IPO. Given Facebook’s track record of phonominal growth, the stock is expected to make a lot of millionaires very quickly.

Facebook IPO | Stock Sale Date

Even though the IPO process has officially started, all of the legal stuff isn’t expected to be worked out and finalized until May 2012. Between now and then, we can expect to hear a lot more about Facebook stock and keep an eye on increasingly accurate price predictions. We have a little time to save up a few dollars and take advantage of the Facebook IPO.

Web Page Width

Are you wondering what the most common web page width is? With tens of thousands of web design companies in the United States alone, the possibilities are endless. Therefore, there is no actual standard. Most website design companies try to build sites with widths that fill up most of a visitor’s monitor without making them have to scroll left-to-right. The best way to do that is to know what the most common screen resolution is. The most common screen resolution is still 1024 x 768, but larger resolutions are also very popular. There is no longer a need to cater to narrow screen resolutions (namely 800 x 600). Wider is the new standard.

Web Page Width on the Best Sites

The data below was compiled using Time Magazine’s “The 50 Best Websites of 2011″ list (released 8/16/2011). Time broke their data down into the 5 best websites in 10 different categories. I looked at the best 5 web sites in the following categories: Music & Video, Family & Kids, Sports, and News & Info. I found the widths of the web sites and put them together here in 1 place to help me and other web site designers more easily decide what widths to make our web sites. If the best web sites use wide widths, then wide is good for me. Of course I also considered the fact that most standard screen resolutions are wider now than ever before. Most internet users can view all of the content on wider sites now without scrolling left to right.

Web Page Width

Web Page Width Can Be Wider Than 900

While this was a very small study on web page width, the data is still showing much wider web sites now than what were the standards several years ago. As the pie chart shows, the numbers are all over the place. This is because each web developer can make the page width anything he wants. The majority of web sites in this study were wider than 900 pixels but less than 1,000 pixels (55%). Only 30% were 1,000 pixels or wider. The remaining 15% of sites were between 750 pixels and 834 pixels in web page width.

Website Design
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Web Design: Avoid These Mistakes

Back when the internet was in its infancy, not many people knew much about web design. Celebrities or large corporations had web sites, but the average business owner wasn’t in a hurry to publish a ton of its information to the world. Now a web site is a necessity for any business. While most companies are finally realizing the importance of a web site, few realize there is a wrong way to build it.

Avoid These Web Design Pitfalls

Don’t try to do everything yourself. Unless you are a professional web designer (college or extensive hands-on experience), the best thing you can do for your web site is hire a reputable web design company to build it for you. The internet is constantly changing. The only way to make sure your web site remains visible and performs well is to have a professional web design company build it and maintain it.

Don’t aim for the cheapest web design solutions available. When a tiny budget dictates how your web site will look, how many pages it will have, or what kind of content will be on it, then your web site will likely not be as beneficial to your company as it could be. Tight budgets don’t allow room for the creativity that captures people’s attention or the search engine friendly structure that gets noticed on Google. If no-one can find your site or people don’t like what they see once they find it, then the entire investment was a waste of time and money … regardless of how cheap it was. Your dollars would be better spent by saving up the money to build a competitive web site in a Google-friendly manner.

Don’t put too much personal information on a business web site. The owner of a large retail outlet shouldn’t have a photo of the family dog on the home page. If someone is visiting the “company” web site, then they most likely want to see information about the company, not Fido. Fido would be better displayed on a social media site or a blog. Irrelevant content is one of the fastest ways to send web site visitors running.

Don’t make it too hard for people to contact you. If people can’t find your contact information, or the only way to contact you is by phone during normal business hours, then you will certainly be missing out on leads. Most people are at work or juggling very hectic lives during normal business hours. Maybe someone plays phone tag with you so long that they give up and do a live online chat with your competitor. Maybe it’s 2:45am when John lands on your site, and he won’t be available later to call you. An online contact form to send you a question would be very convenient.

Lastly, don’t focus so much on what you like that you forget who the web site really needs to appeal to. The owner of a sporting goods web site should not have a flowery background simply because someone likes roses. Most men (larger population of sports enthusiasts) would probably not buy a Bengals jersey online from a company with a rose-themed web design.

Web Design

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3G vs 4G

Are you thinking about upgrading your cell phone to a 4G capable phone? Are you in an area where your current service provider does not have 4G coverage yet? Before you upgrade, you need to ask yourself why. Are you upgrading just because your phone is a few years old and 4G is the current fad? Or do you really need what 4G offers and 3G does not?

This blog post will address what I learned during my personal debate about upgrading to a 4G phone. I have had T-Mobile since 2001, and they already brag about having the largest 4G network.

First I evaluated how I currently use my phone and how I intend to use the new phone. I purchased my T-Mobile Dash for the sole purpose of being able to check my e-mail while I am away from my computer. The calendar and internet sharing were great perks that I started using shortly after getting the phone. Then I noticed that I couldn’t be talking on the phone while I was connected to the internet. At first that didn’t matter, but after a few business trips with just my laptop, my phone, and terrible wi-fi at the hotel, this became a real pain in the butt.

I called T-Mobile and learned that if I upgrade my phone, I will be able to talk while surfing the net. Thus, the 4G question. Below are the main differences I found between 3G and 4G. There are many more differences. These are just the main ones.

3G was developed mainly for voice communication. 4G is geared more toward data transmissions. Business people who are always on the go will benefit greatly from 4G.

3G is Perfectly Acceptable for:

  • Normal phone use (talk)
  • Fast texting & e-mail capability
  • Web browsing
  • Coverage virtually everywhere

4G Offers:

  • Faster web browsing
  • Faster upload & download speeds, some claims up to 4 times faster than 3G
  • Smoother streaming video and audio
  • Faster and smoother online gaming experience
  • Better resolution
  • Better video conferencing
  • Limited coverage area (example: Louisville KY is covered, but Lexington KY is not)

So basically, if you plan to use your phone for video conferencing, gaming, transferring data (like accessing a cloud network or e-mail attachments), watching videos/movies, or very frequent web browsing, then 4G is definitely the better choice. The ability to use internet sharing while talking is also very convenient. Check your mobile service provider to see if 4G is available in your area.

If you just plan to surf the web occasionally, text, e-mail, and rarely use internet sharing for non-business matters, then 3G will be just fine for you. Oh yea, and talk. There is no need to pay the price for a 4G device if you won’t take advantage of the added speed.

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Mobile Flash No More

It’s no secret that Adobe Flash has had a hard time adapting to the mobile world. After all, Flash was initially developed for desktop use, and on desktops … Flash rules. It may be a surprise to some that there actually is a version of Flash Player that has already been developed for mobile devices. After the upcoming update to mobile Flash with Flash Player 11.1, Adobe will discontinue development of the product. That’s right, even if your mobile site uses the current mobile Flash technology, it will not be updated in the future.

So why did few people even know about Flash being viewable on mobile devices? Apps! Everyone knows about apps because the wireless service providers and independent web site owners push the importance of their apps onto consumers. A consumer’s first move is to their app store when they want any capability that was not already available on their mobile device. Also, word spread fast years ago when mobile users first discovered that Flash could not be easily viewed on their devices (back then). Those users told other mobile internet surfers, and none of them have given mobile Flash a second thought.

What does this mean for the world of mobile web design? It means that on mobile devices HTML5 rules … leaving no room for Flash. For Adobe Flash, this isn’t exactly a tossing in of the towel. Flash Player was developed for desktop computers and (for now) the majority of internet activity still takes place on desktops.

Did You Know? Adobe Flash Player is installed on 99% of all internet-enabled PCs.

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Google Places Page Disappear?

If you are like many internet savvy people, you know the importance of having your business listing appear on Google Places (often mistakenly referred to as Google Maps). It’s a challenging task to find your way around the Google backend and meet all of the Google Places qualification criteria. So when you finally get your listing to show properly, it should stay online until you change something, right? Wrong! Several business owners have seen their Google Places listing drop off of map (literally). The entire Places page is completely gone from the visible listings. Vanished. Poof. Disappeared no matter what keywords or address you use to search for the business.

It seems to be just a Google glitch that we have to live with. You should not be extremely alarmed and rush to assume that you did something wrong. However you should login to your Google account and review your settings. Make sure your information is 100% correct … right down to your suite # for example. If everything looks good and you are still left scratching your head, then make a very small meaningless update. Change the expiration date on your coupon or add an extra sentence in your description. The actual updated information itself isn’t important, but changing something and saving the new settings tends to trigger a sort of “reset”.

The main idea here is don’t just setup your Google Places page and forget about it. You must keep an eye on it. If something goes wrong, dig in and play around to get it working properly again. The whole point of being online is to be seen. Google Places is definitely the place to be if you want to be seen.

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Free Business Cards

Q Web Designs is offering 500 free business cards to all new web design clients who mention this blog post before their web project is completed. This free businesss cards offer is only valid 9/12 through 9/16 and is only available to new clients who have not already contacted us for website design.

To view other printing products offered by Q Web Designs, please click here.

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Twitter Bans Users for …

Twitter logoJust like other public online platforms, Twitter has rules that must be followed. Unfortunately, those rules can be easily broken by some people who don’t understand exactly what is and is not acceptable. 

New Twitter users may feel the need to get as many followers as possible as quickly as possible … similar to the common rush for friending (and getting “Likes” from) as many people as possible on Facebook. While this may seem innocent, it raises red flags when someone follows many more people than who follow them. Apparently some Twitter users follow tons of people in the hopes that those people will return the favor and follow them. Once that happens, the original Tweeter starts spamming through their Twitter account.

Even if you are not trying to spam anyone, you should be cautious with the number of people you follow and how quickly you accumulate them. The last thing you want is to have your Twitter account canceled for what seems to be no reason at all.

Read a complete article for more details by clicking here.

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