Google Mobilegeddon: Is It Time For Responsive Design?

Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 in Featured, News

Google Mobilegeddon: Is It Time For Responsive Design?

If you haven’t heard already, on April 21st, 2015, Google will be making a change to their algorithm that will affect websites that are not “mobile friendly”. This is a fairly vague term, so Google made a Mobile Friendly Website Testing Tool that takes the ambiguity out of the equation. The tool will list the problems the website has, and suggest corrective measures you can take to pass the test. Getting a B+ on this test isn’t good enough. It’s pass or fail. Responsive design Responsive design is the most common solution to this problem. The easiest way to think about responsive design is that the “design responds to the size of the display”. This is done with CSS rules that target certain screen size parameters, so that different rules apply to the same html code on different screen sizes. Google’s mobile update change will only affect mobile search results, so before you panic, be sure you know how much traffic you get from mobile search. Go ahead and check, I’ll wait. If you are using Google Analytics, here’s where to look: Acquisition >> All Traffic >> Source/Medium: google/organic Then choose ‘Mobile (including tablet)’ for your Second Dimension This website clearly needs to be mobile friendly, since more than half of its organic Google traffic is coming from mobile users. This number also represents almost a quarter of its overall traffic. HungryBurlington.com is a restaurant directory website designed for search engines. Looking at a more typical business website we can see that the same demographic slice is much smaller. The Google mobile search audience on this website is 16%, though combined Google search is responsible for half of its traffic. Fortunately for this business, they already have a mobile friendly website, but if they didn’t, I would recommend they do it soon. How soon do I need a responsive design website? Take a look at your Google Analytics and see how much your mobile traffic has been increasing over time. Compare the last three months with the three months before that and see if the mobile share of your traffic is growing. Do this two or three more times moving back three months at a time and you will probably see that your mobile traffic is growing at about 5% – 10% every three months. If it’s growing faster than that, you should move quickly and get yourself a new website within weeks, not months. If it’s growing slower than that, I would still get it done before Thanksgiving. Can I blow this off like I did with Google Plus? No. Mobile search has been growing every year for at least the past 7 years and actually passed desktop traffic last year. Obviously every website is different, but I’ve never seen the stats of a website say that mobile use is decreasing over a three month period or longer....

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Content Delivery Networks – The Need for Speed

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Featured, News

Content Delivery Networks – The Need for Speed

The biggest reason I decided to compare Incapsula and Cloudflare was to see which CDN could most improve page speed. My tool of choice for testing page speed is Google Developer PageSpeed Insights. Only one of the websites I tested had been optimized for speed ahead of time. That one had no real improvement on desktop page speed with either CDN, but a big improvement in mobile page speed on Cloudflare and a moderate increase with Incapsula. The other websites had modest increases in mobile page speed. Desktop page speed increases were small to non-existent. Content Delivery Networks are definitely a factor where page speed is concerned, though adding a website to one doesn’t have as big of an impact as I had hoped. See the details of my experiment regarding Bandwidth and Uptime in my article over on Champlain Host. Check out my overall views on Cloudflare and Incapsula and details on the setup of each on Champlain Marketing. Website Profiles Pre-Tuned CMS: WordPress Size: Medium Graphics: Heavy Traffic: Low For a website that was already very fast on a desktop with a score of 91 (out of 100), it was surprisingly slow for mobile with a 69. Cloudflare increased the mobile page speed by 9 percent. Incapsula increased it by just under 8 percent. Bandwidth was unaffected on both CDNs. Bandwidth Hog CMS: Joomla Size: Huge Graphics: Heavy Traffic: High This was the test I was most interested in and the one I had really hoped would show a reduction in bandwidth. No luck. The page speed, which is abysmal on both desktop and mobile (36 and 49 respectively) was only increased by less than 2 percent on both CDNs. This website is in the midst of a long overdue redesign and a CMS switch from Joomla to WordPress. Featherweight CMS: WordPress Size: Tiny Graphics: Light Traffic: Medium This tiny WordPress site hadn’t been optimized for speed before testing and the initial page speed score reflected that with a 59 for mobile and 69 for desktop. The Incapsula page speed improvements were more than twice those of Cloudflare with a mobile score of 64 and a desktop score of 75. Both CDNs gave this site over a 50% reduction in bandwidth. The Sedan CMS: Joomla Size: Small Graphics: Light Traffic: Low This responsive Joomla website started off with a mobile score of 48 and a desktop score of 57. Both CDNs only gave this site a few percentage points of improvement on mobile and desktop scores. There were no bandwidth savings. Artisan CMS: Joomla Size: Small Graphics: Heavy Traffic: Medium The initial score for this Joomla website was 53 for mobile and 67 for desktop. The modest improvements were nearly identical between the two CDNs. About 4 or 5 percentage points for mobile and 3 percentage points for desktop. There was however, a 50-30% reduction in bandwidth...

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Content Delivery Network: Testing Cloudflare

Posted by on Jan 23, 2014 in Featured, News

Content Delivery Network: Testing Cloudflare

I first heard about the concept of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) when researching page speed a few years ago. I didn’t get very far since it seemed at the time to be a fairly expensive addition to my websites. I decided to revisit the subject now that mobile is poised to overtake desktop use, making page speed more important than ever. Free Content Delivery Network I chose CloudFlare primarily because it’s free and HostGator thought well enough of them to offer their services in their CPanel. I also read a hilarious review from Jeff Dickey, a web developer whose sense of humor fits me perfectly. I will be testing at least one other free CDN in the coming weeks and will write a separate post for that. I will update this post as my observations on page speed and bandwidth proceed. A Content Delivery Network works by making a cached version of your website and storing it on servers throughout the country or world. This, in theory should cut down on your hosting server load and bandwidth and should also serve the pages faster since the database won’t need to be queried to render a page. The biggest drawback I’m worried about is when I’m editing a page, cache might get in the way of seeing live changes. There is a workaround for this built into CloudFlare. They set up on their end a subdomain that gives you direct, uncached version of your site. This presumably will take care of that worry, though I will be testing it for myself. So far, I’ve set up two websites on CloudFlare, but have seen only slight improvements in page speed on Google Developers PageSpeed Insights Tool. Ultimately, page speed is not the only thing I’m after. As a website hosting reseller, I would like to be able to set up some of the websites I host on a Content Delivery Network to help minimize their bandwidth (and mine). Benefits and Advantages for Hosting One other big reason for using a Content Delivery Network is to help avoid down time when hosting servers experience outages. HostGator and Bluehost (who are owned by the same company) have had a couple of major outages in the last year. They have never said the outages were the result of hacking, but being the biggest hosting operation in the country paints a big target on their back, so I would imagine that it’s either already happened or only a matter of time. These outages usually only last a few hours, The Content Delivery Networks might fill in that gap so websites that use them won’t miss a beat. CloudFlare doesn’t supprt https page with its free plan, but they do offer that if you have an ecommerce site that needs this kind of...

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Freelancing and Healthcare in Vermont

Posted by on Sep 27, 2013 in News

Freelancing and Healthcare in Vermont

If you’re a full time freelancer in Vermont, you probably have some questions regarding the changes that start next year in the laws surrounding healthcare. I’m a part time freelancer (with a full time day job), and was curious, so I asked Vermont Health Connect (VHC) some questions and got some answers. Full time freelancers who have been going without insurance, will no longer have that option because of the ‘individual mandate’. If you choose not to buy coverage, you’ll have to pay a tax penalty. You probably already know that the state will be operating an “exchange” or “market place” which will be the only place you can purchase healthcare coverage. You probably also already know that there will be only two insurance companies doing business in this marketplace (MVP and Blue Cross). They will both offer a variety of plans with a pretty wide range of prices and services, just as they have for years. One of the new twists with this coverage is that many people will be eligible for subsidies from the state. VHC has a coverage calculator on their website to help you figure out what, if any, subsidy you’ll be eligible for. Seven Days has a great article on VHC where they follow five different scenarios through the ‘Navigator’ system, and discuss the options that might make sense for each person or family. Navigators are free advisers for Vermonters who need help deciding which healthcare option to purchase and answer questions about the packages. One scenario not covered in Seven Days’ article is a single or married full time freelancer who is looking for coverage for him or herself. The first thing I learned here is that if this freelancer were married, the only way to get a subsidy is if their spouse’s employer did not offer spouse coverage. If the spouse’s employer makes healthcare coverage available to spouses of employees, even at a ridiculously high price, the freelancer will not be eligible for any subsidy.* If you’re like me, and you have a full time job, it’s my understanding that your employer is given a choice to either buy “group insurance” where employees get to choose their own plan rather than the “one size fits all” way most plans are these days. This option would be purchased by the employer through VHC. If the employer chooses not to provide coverage, they can direct employees to go the the Individual exchange/marketplace and purchase healthcare insurance for themselves. I don’t know if employers will get a bulk rate or a tax break for buying group insurance, so there may be no incentive for employers to purchase coverage for employees. In fact, I believe one of the goals of this health care reform in Vermont in particular, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in general, is to decouple insurance from employment. Where I work, the...

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