Human innovation has always been at the heart of progress in commerce. It is part of human nature that we demand more from the things in our lives; which has led to the constant evolution in technology, creation of numerous gadgets, tools, additional features and changing design styles.

It is important that your website remains up-to-date with these changes to ensure the online success of your business. There are numerous resources out there that can help you achieve a productive design for your site, which is both beautiful and secure. It is also essential for your site to load fast since, on average, visitors spend only a few seconds on a site; otherwise you may lose those visitors to other sites.

The techniques and resources listed below can help increase your effective reach and assist you in making the most of the online opportunities.

FAST

Nowadays, speed is the essence of productive web design. Visitors want the pages to load quickly, and if your site doesn’t meet these expectations, you can expect those bounce rates to start climbing. A slow website is not only inconvenience for the visitors, but it can also have a negative impact on search engine ranking. It can be bad for your site and business as you’ll experience fewer page views and less customer conversion or ad revenue generation. The guidelines below outline a few ways in which you can resolve those speed issues with your website.

1. Switch up your Hosting Plan

Starting off, we often take the cheap route and opt for shared hosting; and for a while, it gets the job done. However, once the site starts getting serious traffic and content quality/quantity increases, the pages start loading much slower. This is usually the time to start thinking about upgrading the hosting plan. Depending on hosting needs most site owners make a choice between virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated server hosting.

2. Minify JavaScript, CSS and HTML

Removing unnecessary comments, line breaks, white space etc. will reduce the file size, and hence speed up the parsing, downloading and executing. For JavaScript, you can use
Online JavaScript Compression Tool, Ajax Minifier, Uglify JS or Google’s Closure Compiler. Also check out CSSO and clean-CSS to minify CSS code. You can also kill two birds with one by using minify or YUI Compressor. Some may argue that it isn’t essential to minify HTML, considering a lot of things may dynamically interact with it (in the browser). However, the requirements differ case to case – and an HTML minifier can help save precious bytes, even if you’re already gzipping. Try kangax’s HTML Minifier, or check out Mads Kristensen’s or Dean Hume’s HTML Minifier as a simpler alternative.

3. Enable GZip Compression

You can use Gzipping to compress files and reduce the number of bytes that your web server is sending over the network, ultimately making the pages load faster for your site users. To enable Gzipping, you’ll have to configure your server as well as optimize your content by sticking to a coding consistency for your HTML and CSS code.

4. Optimize images

The more content or larger images you have on your site, the longer it takes to load. By shrinking the file size, reducing number of images or completely removing them from the page, you can significantly speed up the loading time. Use Photoshop or Gimp reduce the image resolution, compress it or crop unnecessary background out of the image to decrease file size.

SECURE

An unsecure website is an open invitation to hackers and viruses towards creating security breaches. A compromised website can lead to leaking of sensitive client information and business losses. It can also cause damage to your online reputation, due to which Google can blacklist your site and remove it from search result, ultimately drying up all of your online traffic.

Your site can be hacked for a number of other reasons such as: to upload and launch malware attacks, to send spam or phishing emails, to momentarily shut down your business, etc. There are a number of steps that you can take to ensure the security of your site.

1. Upgrade your platforms and scripts

If you’ve acquired managed hosting services, this won’t be an issue for you since your hosting company is responsible for routinely applying security upgrades to the operating system.

However, if you’re using third-party software such as CMS and forums, you’ll most definitely have to pay more attention to security. Most of these tools are open-source, which means that hackers can easily access their code and exploit any bugs or weaknesses to take control of your site. Always ensure that you have the most up-to-date version of your platform and scripts, since even minor updates can fix the bugs present in previous versions.

2. Check for SFTP Web Host

Many web hosts also offer their clients server security features to secure their online website data.

You can inquire with your hosting company whether they offer Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), which encrypts the uploaded data, such commands, passwords and other sensitive data being transmitted over your server. Several reputable hosting companies also offer additional security features such as file backup services and a public security policy, which reflect the level of importance host pays to the user.

3. Use a Web Application Firewall(WAF)

A cost-effective way of upgrading your website security is by adding a Web Application Firewall (WAF). The application works by continually scanning, filtering and blocking the bad HTTP traffic stemming from a web application. It monitors HTTP conversation and applies to it a set of rules to isolate the harmful traffic and prevent attacks that can arise from web application flaws, such as cross-site scripting attacks (XSS), SQL injection and comment spam, etc. There are a number of WAF options out there such as
Cloudfare, Incapsula and Cloudbric, which can help you get started.

4. Get an SSL Certificate

Data transmitted across an HTTP website is not encrypted. Hackers can intercept the data being transmitted between the visitor’s browser and your site. HTTPS hosting offers a secure, encrypted between the web browser and your server. This is crucial, especially if your site requires sensitive information from visitors for registration, or if there are any transitions taking place on your site. To switch to HTTPS hosting, you’ll require an SSL Certificate – which can be easily acquired and installed at a low cost. It can also help improve your ranking, since Google favors HTTPS sites.

BEAUTIFUL

A beautifully designed website can drastically improve your User Experience (UX), which can in turn drive-up those conversion rates; and it is hence a great return on investment (ROI). However, with the leaps being made in technology every day, design styles are also bound to keep evolving.

Your website needs to keep-up with these changes, and adopt a productive design that appeals to the people of the time. The following tips and tricks can help you setup a website that embodies the essential visual aesthetics to grab your audience’s interest.

1. Keep it simple, don’t overcrowd

When you’re designing a page, it seems like every bit of content is fighting to be on the same page. However, adding lots of content or other elements can become visually overpowering. Think before you add, if the new addition is not helping your design and has no purpose, leave it.

2. Properly align everything

Elements that are not aligned can become a sore sight, and give off the impression that you page was put together in a rush. Try experimenting with alignment; breakdown your design in smaller pieces and align these sections differently to assess their impact on your audience. Also check out Pattern Lab, it’s a web designing tool that is highly pattern-focused and can help your site achieve a similar, highly polished look.

3. Whitespace

You can consider whitespace as the amount of empty spacing given between the elements featured on your page. Your audience will likely prefer less distractions and sectioning of material to increase readability as well as comprehension – all of which can be achieved through white spacing. Many pre-designed templates and especially WordPress Themes give great importance to white spacing. You can determine the amount of extra spacing you require by putting your design to a live test through split A/B Tests to get some useful user feedback.

Conclusion

Designing a website can be a stressful, time-consuming job and one can easily get off track if they don’t set their mind to some clear goals. The guidelines listed above outline the characteristics that a productive design should represent, and the resources cited can greatly aid in that task. One can always add to, or remove elements from the list to suit personal preference and needs.

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