Justifying the Move to The Cloud

Cloud technology has existed for the best part of two decades. However, despite data that points to efficiency, cost benefits and competitive advantages over the old methods of business, many continue to work the old way. According to a recent study from the International Data Group, 69% of businesses already use Cloud technology in one capacity or another, while 18% say they want to implement Cloud technology at some point.

In a similar chorus, reports from Dell stated that companies spending big on data, Cloud, security and mobility enjoy a revenue growth of up to 53% faster than their competitors. As this data clearly shows, a growing number of companies and industry leaders recognise the many advantages attached to The Cloud technology trend. Better still, the technology is deployed to manage their businesses, thereby resulting in improved productivity, better customer service and drastically increasing their overall profit margins.

However, many still retain methods such as storing data on a PC, instead of in The Cloud.

Why Move To The Cloud?

There are many advantages, but mainly it makes sense from a business point of view. You can call it savings - doing more with less in terms of efficiency or security. Whichever you want to frame it, there's no doubt that Cloud technology helps companies to focus on what's important: the business.

Nowadays, all companies are under pressure to maximise the return on their investment to make it profitable. There are many reasons why you can justify transferring to The Cloud and here are some of the best:

Cost Savings

Doing more with less will always be a factor and Cloud technology reduces costs for many reasons. The most obvious is that many Cloud providers benefit from large economies of scale and therefore can offer more energy at a lower cost.

If you seek Cloud services, like Umbrellar Cloud Hosting, then get ready to use the ‘pay as you go’ model. This increases cost predictability and significantly reduces the cost of maintaining and upgrading security and traditional IT infrastructure.

The Cloud Has Less Operational Problems

Cloud technology may seem complicated, but in reality, it experiences fewer problems than other infrastructures. Because The Cloud runs on servers via a company that has the sole task of making it functional and error-free, it’s usually much more reliable than the server in place.

In fact, when a small error occurs, your Cloud provider is almost certainly searching for an instant solution. If this was your remote server, you’d need to file a complaint with technical support and ask the department to send someone to review it.

The average server owner is much more likely to miss small problems (as they are busy running a business after all). These soon become bigger problems that require time and money to solve them.

Improvement of Security

Many Cloud service providers offer small businesses world-class data protection, which includes physical protection against corporate disasters such as fires or floods, multi-factor authentication, advanced encryption and automated backup, as well as identity and management controls. All these measures allow small businesses to operate safely 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Even Cloud service providers are in the business of continuity. Security updates and server maintenance can be performed smoothly and without interruptions to productivity.

Emergency Recovery

Small businesses and those that rely on Cloud service providers can quickly recover data lost in the event of a disaster. Disaster recovery can be very expensive, but when data is in The Cloud, it doesn’t have to be that way. In the event of a catastrophic data loss caused by virus attacks or natural disasters, you’ll have backup copies of all the original files so that you can restore them quickly.

The Cloud Is Always Active

Have you ever forgotten a vital file at work? Perhaps your storage drive hasn’t saved it correctly or maybe your email login isn’t working. You won’t have to hurry to the office to retrieve something from your server if you're in The Cloud as it is always active. So, if you have an Internet connection, you can get the applications you need, literally everywhere.

Greater Collaboration

Greater Collaboration

It takes fewer people to complete more work in The Cloud. Most of the time, there's a minimal learning curve in software and hardware.

Cloud services significantly increase productivity through real-time business collaboration. Business owners and their employees can share and retrieve crucial information from anywhere, at any time and on any device.

This is achieved by keeping all company files in a central location, so that more people can work on a particular document simultaneously. Colleagues can chat with each other as they make the necessary changes. This process increases efficiency, strengthens collaboration and improves the final result.

Competitive Advantage

Using The Cloud allows you to quickly expand operations beyond the four walls of your business. Companies can now compete like never before, being able to access data from anywhere. This allows you to be more responsive and provide first-class customer service to suppliers and customers than larger competitors who do not take advantage of The Cloud.

Softer Mergers and Acquisitions

One of the big friction points of many merger or acquisition are the months (sometimes years) needed to import records and data from one system to another. Sometimes, the problem is so great that the complete transfer of records never happens; this isn’t just a small business problem, as government agencies also face this issue. However, the transition is smoother and faster with systems in The Cloud . End users in joint ventures can easily access a Cloud-based system.

Friendly for the Environment

Companies that adopt The Cloud only use the required server space, which significantly reduces your carbon footprint.The use of Cloud services involves 30% less carbon emissions and energy consumption than companies that use servers on the site.

So, here we are. Now show your boss!

Conclusion

The advantages of Cloud computing far outweigh the disadvantages. As of 2017, 85% of companies have executed a multi-Cloud strategy - the reason for which is quite obvious. Cloud challenges have generally decreased compared to last year, making adoption and use easier than ever. So, don’t hesitate; save time, money and resources by putting your business in The Cloud.

Main Factors That Affect Website Performance

Nothing is more frustrating for visitors than landing on a website and spending important time waiting for the page to load. One of the main causes of page abandonment is slow page load speed. Nobody has the time to wait for your website to load when they can just as easily jump to a competitor’s website and get the information they require.

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your website is or how tempting your product offerings might be; if your website’s performance is not up to the expectation of your visitors, you will lose them.

However, website performance is not about page load speed alone. Broken links, page errors and incorrect images are just a few examples of problems that can occur with a website.

However, what stops a well planned website from performing optimally? Read on to find out.

Poor choice of webhost

Inappropriate choice of web hosting is the first culprit when it comes to poor performance. However, if you get this issue right from the very beginning, any problems can be managed. For instance, a web hosting provider that’s not able to keep up with current security trends will put your website at the risk of exposure to viruses, worms and bots. These intrusions will not only slow down your website speed, but could also jeopardise the security of your visitors by having access to their personal information. When this happens, your website and business will lose credibility, and you might even face legal consequences. New Zealand’s top hosting partner, OpenHost, advises website owners to first check the webhost they want to use follows current best practices when it comes to security. You can easily find this out by reading their reviews online or chatting with old customers.

Too many add-ons

Add-ons such as plugins, extensions and widgets are great for extending the functionality of your website, but if not carefully undertaken, this can affect its performance. The more add-ons you install, the longer it will take your website to load. Even if you get the features you’re looking for eventually, there’s every chance there will be no visitors waiting to see them. Don’t forget that page load speed is an essential factor in Google ranking, so you will not only lose direct customers that land on your website from other sources, but you’ll also likely lose traffic that comes from organic searches, due to a drop in page ranking. So, what can be done? Trawl your website to look for add-ons that you’re not using; these files should then be removed to allow your website more room.

Improper migration

If you don’t get your hosting right from the beginning, you’ll have to change servers further down the line - and this can cause complications for your website. For instance, there are several problems that can occur when moving from one hosting provider to another, including  losing important files on your website. This will lead to issues such as broken links, error pages or invalid redirects. Of course, these are problems that can be solved easily, but what happens if you don’t know they exist? Very few visitors are willing to contact a website owner to tell them  that there’s problem on the site; rather, they prefer to go on social media and leave negative reviews. This can significantly damage your online reputation. If the mistake has happened already and you need to change servers, ensure you work with an expert website designer who will know the best way to move your files and how to check if there is any loss after the migration.

trade website

Heavy files

I understand that you’ll want to put as much information about your brand on your website, but note that uploading heavy files can drastically reduce page load speed. When visitors come to your website and try to open the page where these heavy files are present, it will take some time before it can load completely on their browser. Alternatively, the page might truncate and not open fully. This is obviously a bad user experience, which can have a negative effect on your business overall. Your job is therefore to make sure that visitors can get what they need on your site as fast as possible, with the least possible hassle. Try to trim the size of images and videos before you upload on your website, so that it doesn’t compromise on speed. Additionally, you can upload your visual content on third party websites like YouTube and embed the link on your site instead. This will save you on server resources, meaning it won’t affect the speed and functionality of your website.

Complex websites

As beautiful as they are, flash and animated websites are not the sites of today, as they tend to be complex and cumbersome. As I said earlier, your visitors have to be able to get the information they came for in the shortest time possible and with minimum fuss. You’ll not be able to achieve this if your website is complex. Today, prominent websites are those designed using a minimalist concept. This means having only the most important elements on your website and doing away with everything else. This design style makes the website more attractive, more accessible and easy to use.

adware

Ads

Ads are an effective way to make money from your website, but have you stopped to ask yourself if it has any negative effects? For one thing, no visitor likes seeing ads covering the information they are trying to retrieve, which is what most of these third party ad networks do. For instance, they place ads on virtually every available space on your website, resulting in poor user experience for your visitors. If that isn’t enough, many of these ads are based on codes that can slow your website. Additionally, some of these ads place tracking cookies on your visitors’ devices, thereby effectively having access to information about their browsing habits and preferences. The publishers of these ads will then use this information to bombard them with unsolicited ads. This can cause a user to never visit your website again.

Conclusion

An organisation whose website is not performing optimally will ultimately fail in the business world. Unless they’re offering products and services that cannot be sourced anywhere else (this is nigh on impossible of course), they could end up losing all their online customers. It is therefore important that you take a critical look at your current setup to see if any of the above problems apply, so that you can rectify this out before it’s too late.

Why the Success of your Website depends on your Domain Name and Web Host

So, you have a really attractive website, highly engaging content and perfect marketing ideas to put your business on the map. However, all of these are moot if your website doesn’t have the right domain name, and if it’s not hosted by a suitable company. Most online business owners focus on creating awesome content for their site, while the importance of choosing the right domain name and web host takes a back seat. In their defence, not many them understand the importance of these two factors in relation to the success of their websites.

What happens if you choose the wrong domain name?

Google’s algorithm contains about 200 ranking factors and domain name is just one of them. This means that there is little or no effect on the website’s SEO. However, it goes without saying that a well thought out domain name and TLD will be tremendously useful to the success of your website.

keyboard with traffic cones ontop

What happens if you choose the wrong web host?

Choosing the wrong web host can negatively affect the success of your website. A lot of things can go wrong simply because you did not properly evaluate your needs and opt for a provider that can meet your unique requirements:

So, what are the necessary points to consider?

It is crucial you choose a reliable company that has what it takes to ensure your website is available and accessible 24 hours a day. It’s also important you pick a domain name that perfectly reflects what your website is about, and can engage the people you intend to reach.

Here are some points to consider:

For the right domain name:

Easy to spell and remember – Even though you want your domain name to be unique, anyone should be able to spell it. Avoid complex words, misspellings and more importantly, words that have different spellings in different regions (Vapor and Vapour for example).

Short and sweet – Do you know that domain names of the most popular websites are made up of no more than nine characters. Try to keep your domain name between one and two words. You can never go wrong with a short domain.

Use the appropriate extension – Extensions or TLDs are crucial to your domain. Many of them are specific to different business, so you need to choose the one that best suits what you do. Even though .com is the preferred domain extension, there are thousands of other good ones to choose from.

For the right web hosting provider:

Uptime guarantee– This is one of the first and most important things to consider when choosing a web host. The last thing you want is visitors coming to your website only to meet an error page. You must ensure the web host you choose can meet at least 99.5% uptime. Anything less is unacceptable.

Room to grow– Every business starts small - and so does its website - but the hope of every business owner is to see their business grow. With this in mind, you should ensure your web host has what it takes to accommodate the growth of your business and website. You should be able to scale up, or scale down your hosting requirements if the business demands it.

Adequate support– Once in a while, you will likely encounter problems with your website or hosting platform. You need to be sure that your hosting provider has the technical expertise to provide the kind of support you need to get your site back up and running.

Final Words

Many factors combine to make your website a success. However, domain name and web host are the first and most important factors that you must get right first, before considering other aspects such as content and marketing. While it may be difficult for you to change your domain name if you have an already established business, the above points will help if you plan to launch a new website.

Easy Tips to Increase your WordPress Website Speed

Chances are if you've never really thought about page speed then you won't be winning the award for The World's Fastest Website. Most people just assume that when they have a website built, it will function as needed and at a reasonable speed. You could be completely forgiven for thinking that way but unfortunately it's not always the case. Hiring a web design rookie over an experienced developer can be the difference between a page that loads in 10 seconds and one that loads in a jiffy!

Why does slow page speed matter?

The main reason your page speed matters is for the end user experience. When building a website, you need to think about the user and how they interact with your pages. They may be looking at your site through a desktop, tablet or a mobile, they might have a superfast wifi network or be out in the mountains with a poor 3g signal. You can't always accommodate for every scenario but it's important to give each user the best experience possible so they are happy to stay on your site.

Google and other search engines recognise how important the user is to the whole search experience, so much so that they measure every interaction someone has with your site to better understand how well they are responding to their experience. The search engines measure 1000's of data points, everything from page load times, time spent on page, the amount of interactions (clicks) & how many pages viewed, through to information about the user's device, location and their internet service provider.

If it's recognised that multiple users are coming to your site and having to wait a while for your page to load, search engines could see this as a bad user experience and lower your position for keywords related to your services or products.

What are the things that could affect my WordPress website speed?

There are loads of factors that can affect your the time in which your website loads, here's a few you might not be aware of.

1. Large images

Not all images are created equal. The ones you should use on your website will generally be under 100kb. Putting a print quality image (like one taken with your iphone camera) can cause your website to slow down dramatically.

2. Multiple CSS & javascript files

If you've had a multiple people working on your website before, chances are they've used a custom javascript / CSS file in your pages. This basically means that when a browser tries to load your page, it's having to load information from multiple sources instead of just one. The more sources and the bigger the files it has request, the longer the time it will take to load.

3. Lots of Plugins or bulky themes

Out of the box, WordPress is a reasonably fast system. Unfortunately there's not many business owners that would be happy with the standard wordpress design or features. In order to customise the way wordpress works and looks, developers will introduce things called plugins which basically bolt on to wordpress to add additional features (like a contact form or testimonial plugin). Adding lots of plugins can affect the speed in which a page loads.

Slow server

If you've gone for a cheap as chips hosting service, this could be one of the reasons your website is running slow. Hosting providers work on volume and when they offer a hosting package half the price of everyone else, it means they need to load up their server with as many websites as possible to amortise their costs. This increased load results in poor performance and slower speeds.

Find out exactly what is making your website slow here at Google's Pagespeed Insights test.

If you're not an experienced web developer, it can be difficult to understand the results of a pagespeed insights test. As soon as the errors start talking about expiring headers and improving server response time it can all get a bit daunting.

Here's several quick tips i've put together for the WordPress Novice to help improve your WordPress website page speed.

These shouldn't take more than a few minutes each to do, if you manage to tick all the boxes you should end up with some great increases to your website speed.

1. Add a performance plugin to wordpress

I like to use W3 Total Cache as it's simple to setup.

2. Resize your images

If you've uploaded an image straight off of your iphone, it definitely hasn't been formatted for web. Images from your phone or camera are generally print quality which isn't suitable for a web browser to download every time a user visits your website. There are many programs available to resize images, I generally use Adobe photoshop but there are also plenty of free options available online. If you're using adobe, change your image size to

3. Minimise your CSS & Javascript files

You can do this with w3 Total Cache but use with caution, sometimes minifying your files can cause issues with how your site displays. Be sure to check your pages after you've minimised!

4. Remove unnecessary plugins

If you've been working on your website and have added a few plugins over the years that you no longer use, give the list a quick run through and deactivate any that are no longer needed. You'd be surprised at how much these could be slowing you down.

5. Use a CDN

A CDN (content delivery network) is a way of hosting your website in multiple locations across the globe so that when someone views your website content, the information only has to travel a short distance.

This is a great way to increase your speed without any major technical knowledge. Just set up a free account at cloudflare.com and follow the simple instructions (most of which you can ask your domain name or hosting provider to do for you).

6. Upgrade your hosting plan or change hosting providers

Check your website on Google's pagespeed insights (link above). If the results come back with an error for slow server response time, I'd recommend switching to a higher quality hosting service like wp-engine or siteground.

7. Find out which plugins are slowing you down

There's a great plugin you can use to check which of your plugins are causing your website to load slower, it's called P3(Plugin performance profiler) made by GoDaddy. It's super helpful in figuring out which of your plugins are slowing you down, allowing you to gauge whether it's worthwhile trading off performance for functionality.

This list is by no means exhaustive, just a few tips that anyone with a small amount of experience with wordpress can do. If you're looking for professional site speed optimisation, feel free to contact me for a quote.