My First Post on Web Development for 2020

Website marketing
des's picture

It's about time I wrote my first blog of the year about Web Development and addressed some issues I have found with running a Web Development Agency.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

The most obvious one is about SEO, since everyone that owns or purchases a domain is receiving lots of unsolicited emails, from so called SEO experts. They claim they can resolve all your SEO problems and issues that they have discovered on your website. And will get your website to the top of  Google search rankings. In reality no one can promise that! The best way you can improve your position on Google, Bing or other search engines is to write good content. If your website is loading reasonably fast that visitors are not leaving before your site is rendered, have products and services visitors are searching for, your content is well written and understood, then you will rank reasonably well on search engines. So don't beat yourself up about SEO and instead concentrate more on running and  promoting your business.

Who's at Fault for Website Problems?

Developing a website requires a lot of time from the Developer but also you the Customer. You won't have a good website if you don't make your requirements and expectations clear to the developer at the very start. Websites should be developed as a collaborated effort by both the developer and you the customer. Providing content such as images, documents, references and accurate descriptions about your business, products and services in a timely manner. Website development problems and issues are not usually the problem of the programmer or website agency but communication.

The relationship between a web agency, its developers and you the customer can become tenuous very quickly. And after spending over 30 years in software development I think I know why. Clients or website customers need a website and the problem is they don't know what to ask or how to ask for it. Beyond something that looks nice or having a visual appeal, there is usually little understanding of building a presence for a business online. Therefore developers do what they think is best by filling in the gaps with what they know. If the customer hasn't provided clear instruction, or haven't asked for it, then it doesn't get done. Programmers need specific instructions, and customers usually are not in the best position to understand, much less provide those instructions.

When websites are delivered the website agency tends to see it as done and moves on to the next project. Meanwhile the customer has a list of things they want to change so the website that conducts their business is never done. So, not only is the language different between the website agency and the customer, but the expectations and goals are completely different as well.

If you are ready to build a website please download our free web design questionnaire it will help resolve a lot of the issues and problems, helping you fill in the gaps and providing clear instructions to the web developer.

What is the best Content Management System (CMS) with Google Page Speed?

The most popular content management system in the world today is WordPress but it is also one of the slowest. From TTFB: Time to first byte to Fully Loaded: When a page is 100% loaded in a user’s browser.

I have worked with a lot of software projects and with various CMS: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, OpenCart, Magento and HTML5 websites with frameworks like Smarty and Zend. My own sites www.bluegroper.com.au (Drupal 7) and templates.bluegroper.com.au (HTML5) have reasonable loading times with optimised images, assets and are cached but are still work in progress as is most sites.

With Google Page Speed Insights it is extremely hard to get a rating over 30 for mobile friendly pages. But I wouldn't worry about it as long as your site has reasonable loading times, and that visitors are not leaving before the page is fully loaded. One of the contributing factors of render blocking Google pointed out to slow loading times is from Google's own products. Google Fonts, Google CDN scripts, Google Analytics, Google Ads and Youtube (worst offender), also there are a lot of 3rd party products that will also have an impact.

To get better times you can aggregate (join) and minimise (take out white space) on css style sheets and javascript. You can also place render blocking javascript in the footer (end of BODY) so it loads last. Or leave it in the HEAD and load asynchronous by placing the async property in the script element.

<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
<script async src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jqueryui/1.11.4/jquery-ui.min.js"></script>
<script async src="https://maxcdn.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/3.3.7/js/bootstrap.min.js"></script>
<script async src="https://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script>

Note: Don't load jquery in asynchronous mode if you have inline scripts and scripts depending on it when loading (these days they all do). Anyway I am getting far too technical but just wanted to highlight some of the concerns about page speed.

Getting back to WordPress why is it so slow? It can be that there are far too many plugins on your WordPress installation all with render blocking css style sheets and scripts. A plugin may be nice to have but if your site is not using it then you should remove it. Many premium templates always come with a host of plugins that will slow your site down, so if you are not using a plugin then remove it!

Brian Dean from BacklinkO has done a lot of research on how to improve your score on Google Page Speed. His findings I totally agree with and will highlight some of the the main points here that are relevant to this blog:-

  • In the analysis of 5.2 million pages, the average desktop Time to First Byte (TTFB) speed is 1.286 seconds on desktop and 2.594 seconds on mobile. The average time it takes to fully load a webpage is 10.3 seconds on desktop and 27.3 seconds on mobile.
  • The average web page takes 87.84% longer to load on mobile vs. desktop.
  • When comparing major CMS's against one another, Squarespace and Weebly have the best overall mobile page speed performance. Wix and WordPress ranked near the bottom.
  • On desktop, CDNs have the biggest impact on TTFB. However, on mobile devices, the number of HTML requests seems to affect TTFB the most.
  • Wink and Gatsby are the fastest Javascript frameworks. Meteor and Tweenmax are the slowest. The fastest framework is 213% faster than the slowest.
  • Third-party scripts significantly slow down page loading speed. Each third party script added to a page increases load time by 34.1 milliseconds.
  • GitHub and Weebly web hosts have the fastest overall TTFB Performance. Siteground and Wix are the slowest among the hosting providers that we analyzed.

Drupal is in the middle of the pack and way above WordPress for speed but that's another story. Get Brian's full findings over at BackLinkO and hope you enjoyed reading this blog and you are welcome to leave comments below (approval required so don't spam).

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