Optimizing images to speed up your website

Your website can be made faster by compressing scripts, stylesheets and other files, and by implementing caching. However, by far the easiest and most immediately enhancing technique to speed your website up is image optimization for the web. 

 "The web should be fast." Google, Inc.

The simple logic of web images

Images on the web are different. They don't need to be near as high quality, or the size as those produced by any modern digital camera. Cameras create large photos of printable quality. On the web all we are looking for is enough quality to look great on a screen, so we don't need near as much information in the file as we would for printing.


Four powerful emarketing strategies

Marketing is about communicating your value proposition, not just to anyone who will listen, but more specifically to people who have a need that you fill. Using Internet tools and technologies for this task can allow you closer communication links with your target audience - segmenting your message to suit the audience in order to produce better results. This article introduces the top four ways in which Internet enabled forms of marketing should be used to spread your message.

1. Permission marketing with Email campaigns

Email marketing is hugely effective, trackable and well acceptedEmail marketing has become a mainstream, accepted method for communicating with your existing customer base. Additionally, many businesses collect email address through newsletter signup mechanisms. Gathering email addresses for your database doesn't need to be restricted to a newsletter sign-up though, customers who provide an email address and do not opt out should be added too.


Google Analytics Goal Tracking

If you operate an online shop, or any ecommerce business really, you have a specific set of actions you want visitors to do. It might be to sign up to a mailing list, complete a contact form to register a sales enquiry, request a call back, book a service or buy a product. To track visitor progress through this path, we use Google Analytics Goal setting and Goal Funnels.

Configured Goals and Funnels allow you to see your conversion ratios and optimize your conversionsWhy track the path

Tracking that path isn't what is important here though. What we are interested in is tracking the drop off between the steps. Every extra step we have is a place where visitors drop out and don't become customers. The difference between the number of visitors that reach a step an dthe number that continue to the next is called a conversion rate. Knowing the conversion rates along your funnel allows you to assess the effectiveness of changes and allows you to compare your conversion rates at each point.


Using .htaccess to move domains

To maintain traffic and search engine rankings after moving a website, it is really useful to use the address rewriting capabilities available on most modern web servers. The ReWrite Module is often available on both Apache and IIS web servers to facilitate this. This, coupled with a 301 Permanent Redirect instruction allows you to redirect all of the old pages from a domain to the equivalent area on a new domain by matching the pattern, rather than listing thousands of individual redirect instructions.

The example instruction below will redirect to in just four lines of code.

RewriteEngine On

RewriteBase /


Rewritecond %{HTTP_HOST} www\.myoldsite\.com$

RewriteRule ^.*${R:1} [R=301,L]

The code should be added to the .htaccess file which resides in the root of your website directory. Remember to always backup before attempting changes. Incorrect changes to a .htaccess file can render your website inaccessible.


Top 7 tips for day-to-day SEO

There is a lot of good information around about optimising for search. There is a lot more long-winded and confusing information around. Here are 7 quick tips to enhance your search engine optimisation.

1Back linking.Top Tips for Search Engine Optimization Back links are when some other website links to yours. Search engines see them as a positive vote for your website, assuming you don't link back. Ask clients and/or suppliers to link to you. If you can, ask them to make the anchor text one of your key phrases too.


Facebook's New Insights

Facebook have added a lot of new data to their page analytics section which they call insights. There are now six tabs of information including what we previously had. 'People talking about this' has changed to 'Engagement'; 'Virality' has been replaced with 'Engagement rate' and 'Reach' is now broken down into paid and organic, the latter including the previous 'Viral reach' category.

Facebook 6 tabs insights

Six tabs

1 Overview - 7-day snapshot of everything.

2 Likes - Likes gained and lost including geographical data on where they're coming from.


Joomla versions, upgrade paths and migrations

Joomla was first released, unsurprisingly as v1.0 in August 2005. Since then there have been a series of releases made. For most business users, the important releases are those that are granted Long Term Support (LTS). An LTS release places the software into a future freeze, meaning no additional functionality will be introduced. The only additional releases will be in the form of maintenance releases. At the conclusion of the support period, the product reaches end-of-life (EOL).

Joomla upgrade and migration versionsWhen one Joomla product reaces EOL, the following major version is granted LTS status. For example, when Joomla 2.5 reaches its end in March, 2014 the Joomla 3 product will have reached version 3.5 and will be granted long term support. This is the point where business users should update their Joomla software to ensure their system is safe and secure. At this point, no security nor maintenance releases will be made for the EOL product. 


Social Networking for Business

A social network is a type of virtual community, however whereas most traditional virtual communities were based on the content and information discussed (communities of interest), the revolution of social networking places relationships at the centre of the communities. Social Networking services (SNS) are more about people and their relationships than connecting content itself.

  • Virtual communities were founded on shared interests in concepts but are moving towards shared relationships and connectionsA virtual community is a forum of exchanging information about common interests. They provide a sense of place and belonging based on those shared interests. Often they develop into congenial and stimulating dialogue between the members and much interesting information can be shared, even leading to more extended relationships in some instances.
  • SNS is typically distinguishable in that they are about relationships - they allow a more detailed personal profile to be developed, they tend to allow members to articulate a list of 'friends' and they tend to allow members to navigate and peruse others' list of friends. In this way members can find others through their extended friends networks - friend of a friend (FOAF).

Tracking your campaigns with Google Analytics

It seems that lots of companies know that you can track your email campaigns with Google Analytics (GA), but not so many know how to do it or have actually tried to implement it. In this article I'll briefly explain how it works and all you really need to know to track most campaigns.

The premise behind tracking is very simple, instead of having a unique landing page for each marketing campaign, each marketing effort is tagged and tracked by its URLs.There are just three tags that are required for campaign tracking to work, you can learn about the optional ones here.


User Experience Testing

User Experience (UX) testing is a way of learning about how your customers experience your software, in their natural environment. UX testing techniques developed from the idea of tracing cognitive processes as methods to study actual behaviour at an atomic level, the use of verbal reports and protocols for their analysis in data collection has evolved largely from efforts at understanding human problem solving in the field of psychology (Ericsson & Simon, 1980; Newell & Simon, 1972).

How UX is conducted

The UX testing technique most often used today is the Think-Aloud Protocol (TAP) method developed by Lewis (1980) at IBM research. In think-aloud protocol (TAP) sessions, the participant is asked to vocalise their thoughts, their actions, their expectations of the results of those actions and, any confusion or concerns arising, in the presence of a facilitator. This facilitator also observes the session and may prompt the participant in order to keep the commentary alive. There are two distinct types of TAP, which produce the best results when used in conjunction - Concurrent Analysis and Retrospective Analysis.


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