Resize to Optimze: How to Speed Up Image Loading

When running a website, the amount of time your site takes to load up plays a huge factor in attracting people’s attention. Simply put, let’s say someone is Googling information for a science project. Your site has the information he needs. Now, you have tons of reference images and flashy objects to make your site look incredibly appealing. But if your site just takes too long to load, the kid is just going to switch over to the next tab that’s entirely loaded and close your tab without thinking twice about it.

There are a bunch of ways in which you can make your site faster, image optimization being one of them. If your site is, let’s say a marketplace for clothing chances are you will have a lot of pictures, the image type is important for the site’s load time. Images that have more colors are better suited to be stored as JPGs than files that use fewer colors, in which case PNGs are always better.

Image resizing also plays a vital factor in optimizing the images on your website. Having a big image and then downsizing it to a thumbnail is not advised. Therefore, images should always be uploaded at the correct size as required on the website, rather than relying on the code to resize it.

Regarding logos, headers and other graphics that are repeated on multiple pages of the site, it is best to use the same image with the same file path rather than multiple pictures of the same graphic, just with different file paths. This means that only one image needs to load onto the web page, making your website overall a lot faster. The bottom line here is that when you optimize images, they are less likely to show up as a problem on a load & performance testing report.

Another alternative is to use CSS instead of images. If you have own grids or bars or any simple graphics that you can make with CSS, opt for that option. CSS-based images load a lot faster than actual images improving the load times of your website. One other thing that you may want to do is run a load test on your website in order to optimize the images. If you’re looking for a guide, there’s one on Amazon that you can read which pretty much covers all the details.

The Need For Speed: Why You Should be Testing Your Site

Let’s get this straight: no one like a slow loading website, no one. If your site does load slowly, you need to rethink your strategy as a webmaster because it’s likely that users are frustrated by your site. The important thing to understand here is that users don’t have the patience that they did years ago, and because of that, there’s a premium on website speed nowadays. Gone are the days of the 90’s when everyone had a dial up internet connection, and everyone’s site was slow. Users now expect things to be fast, and with LTE data available on many cell phones, many people have broadband in the palms of their hands. With that said, it’s important to understand that in terms of user satisfaction, there isn’t a much higher priority than page load speed.

If you think that your website might be loading slowly, one of the best things that you can do is perform a baseline website speed test worldwide from various locations in order to get an idea of where you stand at the current moment. Many companies that do speed testing will give you a different breakdown of how your pages load, and show in detail some of the page elements that are causing your site to load slowly. When you have this information, you can go on to your site and make the necessary changes that will allow you to speed up your site and make users happy!

It’s easy to get focused on page design, images, features, and lots of other different site elements, but one thing to understand is that if your website isn’t loading fast enough, none of these other things will matter at all! That’s because you will lose the attention of your users, and most likely their trust as well because once it looks like your site doesn’t load fast enough, they may think that you are running a cheap or low quality site, and they lack of trust can even spread to you brand if you are in business and your website is seen as an extension of your brand. Having the fastest web hosting you can get is also important too, because the speed of your servers is an important factor. So the most important thing to take away here is that in order to keep your users happy, before you worry about a bunch of other things on your site, you need to make sure that it loads quickly, otherwise you could be risking your reputation, and a lot more if users deem your site to be low quality or untrustworthy.

The Process of Developing a Web Application

A three-tier model is a useful overview of the process of developing web applications. Each tier represents an essential part of the overall process. Developers have labeled them in many ways, but for a summary, a useful description is the user tier, the business tier, and the information tier.

The information tier is the data used to carry out the jobs that one designs the web application to do. It can be a data warehouse that stores things, or a database that must interact with variables to produce results. The business tier is the purpose of the application, the logic of the interactions comes from purposes. In a sales environment, the purpose is to match search queries with items, then orders with inventory or supplies. The final layer is the user tier consisting of the arrangements for access by browsers and interaction with consumers.

In outline form, the development process for applications flows from making a concept or vision, devising a project plan, implementing the plan, and testing the system. The planning stage involves determining the problems the application must solve. The plan requires a functional analysis of the parts of the application, for it establishes how they will look and interact. This part of the effort establishes the data variables, entities and coding procedures for the remainder of the project. For example, in a sales situation, an order would be an entity. This analysis guides the plan including selecting a language for writing code such as Python or Ruby on Rails.

The code must be able to handle the parts and interactions required by the functional analysis. The project plan then can detail timelines and schedules for producing code. There are many programs available to shorten the tasks of producing code, some work automatically so that non-programmers can create useable code. Testing is crucial to the effectiveness; the application must work under a variety of conditions. Server integration is another factor in application development and the choices include Microsoft Windows frameworks that on the server-side use leading languages like PHP and Ajax.

The three tiers form the overall framework for application development. The database tier contains the entities and elements. The business tier provides the ways in which entities must interact as required by the business logic. The user tier is critical to success because it is where consumers must engage and carry out the business purposes, such as sales of merchandise. The user interface must be simple, quick, and reliable, but at the same time, unique and not a carbon copy of the competition.

Current trends in application development require additional tiers due to increased complexity. Developers often need to use a multilayer approach that makes additional divisions in the business logic grouping, or that link directly to the database for various forms of search or scalability. Cloud computing has changed application development as it presents applications in Software As A Service format. Referred to as SaaS, these applications require software for licensed browser access.

Monitoring Web Applications: Should You Do It?

If you run own or operate a website, there’s a chance that you have experience with web applications. You may have a shopping cart or lead capture form on your site, or even some other form of an application. The question is: do you actually monitor those apps to ensure they are functioning properly? And if they’re not functioning properly, then  what is the cost to you?

Let’s take a simple shopping cart for example, and let’s say that you sell t-shirts on your website. If you visitors add t-shirts to their cart, but an error prevents them from checking out, what do you think this does to visitor confidence? And to their loyalty to your site? The truth is that web visitors are extremely fickle, and shoppers are even worse. With that said, it’s important to make sure that you do something to monitor any web apps that you have so you know when there’s a problem. If you know when a problem begins, then you can take action to correct it. If you never know about it, it could be hours, days, or even weeks before it’s brought to your attention by an angry visitor.

So assuming you want to monitor a web application on your site, how is this done? Well there are multiple options that you have, and the best option is most likely to use an external or off site web application monitoring solution. A third-party solution will be the most reliable because a self-hosted solution won’t necessarily be able to keep track of any problems you’re having, especially if the issue is related to a server-side problem. There are a number of companies that offer a solution like this, and you just need to do a little research to find out which one is best for you, and which one helps you achieve your goals. Both Pingdom and DotCom-Monitor offer different but workable solutions in this space.

At the end of the day, you obviously don’t have to monitor any of your applications at all. And if you don’t have any web applications on your site, then there’s nothing to monitor. However, if you do have public-facing web applications, you need to ask yourself what this question: “What is the risk/benefit of doing nothing?” Maybe in your case you don’t have many web visitors, or run an extremely low traffic blog, and it that case the expense may not be justified. However, if you have a considerable amount of traffic then you might want to consider what could happen as a result of inaction. Either way, if you take your time and evaluate the needs for your website, you should be on your way to finding a workable solution.

Is Learning to Code Difficult?

Learning a new skill can be a challenging thing to accomplish. With anything in life, it takes time to truly learn something new. Learning any language can take a lot of time out of someone’s life. However, Learning new languages a skill that can truly benefit someone for the rest of the life. Learning a new language opens up opportunities for not only travel, the potential business opportunities. Learning languages can gives someone a very good competitive edge. Languages are the gateway to communication, and communication can truly open many doors in life.

Learning code is exactly like learning a language. Depending on what style of code that an individual wants to learn, this is a type of language they’re going to want to become proficient in. For example, learning C++ could be like learning German, while learning JavaScript could be like learning French. Deciding what code you want to learn will help you narrow down your learning and become a master at that type of coding. There many websites, universities, and technical schools that will teach programmers how to code. These classes are offered all over the world and are accessible to many different types of individuals.

One question that arises is the difficulty of learning code. How difficult is it to write code? Is learning code only for the computer elite? Is it only for those that can understand the most dynamic syntax patterns? It may seem intimidating for those who have never programmed  before to learn code. The difficulty level may seem high for those that have never tried coding before.

The truth of the matter that is that coding can be quite simple to learn once you understand the basics. With the proper teaching environment a student can learn all of the ins and outs of coding. Like any language, coding has certain patterns that can become recognizable. Just like fluency in any language, by immersing oneself deeply into code an individual can become fluent in any style of coding.

For some individuals coding might come much more naturally. For others it might be slightly more difficult to grasp the basic concepts of coding. Is never too late for an individual to start learning code, and is also never too early for an individual to start learning. Each individual has to learn at their own rate, but with enough persistence and determination anyone can truly learn code.

The Need For Web Monitoring Tools

Web apps are client-server systems that allow a user to submit data have it processed on a server and respond to the user accordingly. Web apps can exist in the form of webmail, shopping carts, online auctions or web registration forms.

Web monitoring applications are essential to ensure the host site is able to service its visitors, subscribers and patrons efficiently and securely. They are designed to ensure the shortest downtime, provide instant notification of performance instability or unavailability of services. Web monitoring apps give system administrators confidence with advance alert systems, triggered actions and automated escalation procedures. Web monitoring apps can be deployed in a virtual environment, data center or cloud (using a service like CopperEgg.

Incorporating web application monitoring tools is a smart way to intercept catastrophic failures that can lead to loss of business or lack of trust from site visitors and customers. Web app monitoring is synonymous with having a pair of eyes glued to every action performed by the app platform. Another advantage of an automated monitoring program is the ability to analyze all transactions 24/7 with configurable options. In a nutshell monitoring tools give companies and system admins the ability to monitor trends, display activity in comprehensive charts, produce reports and send alerts in real-time via SMS, email or mobile technology.

In addition to providing reports for performance degradation and processing failures, web app monitors also give site administrators the ability to be notified of hackers attempting to overload the system or any activity that can be categorized as content or system violations. With the emergence of cloud computing sites are more susceptible to broad and targeted attacks that can cripple individual sites residing on a “cloud” network.

Many commercial application monitoring tools provide different levels of insight in performance of web technologies. Network based performance monitoring systems are generally integrated into these platforms and can provide high level views into web application performance in conjunction with load-balance testing tools that can be applied before a web application is deployed to the web.

When choosing a web monitoring app, ensure that it has the ability to install seamlessly in a data center or cloud environment. Make certain it has the ability to map the architecture and dependencies of the web product and can provide a big picture of application performance regardless of the complexity of the site. This includes automated discovery of network systems and software on a variety of platforms including; Windows, Unix, Linux, AIX, HPUX, Solaris and more. Modern monitoring tools generally provide a “drill down” format that allow administrators to troubleshoot and inspect individual call stacks and anomalies on a method and class level. Some web monitoring apps also have built in decoding tools to allow load balance testing before an app is published or deployed.