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On the subject of Software

speed

Matt

October 3rd, 2014.

A Guide To Improving Your Page Load Speeds

Many businesses may think that page load speeds are not very important, and why would they? Most of us these days have super fast conversion-rate-page-load-timebroadband Internet, fibre optic is being rolled out and 4G provides users with speedy mobile Internet. So what does it matter if a webpage takes 0.5 milliseconds longer to load than others? Well for one, Google takes into consideration page loads speeds, and will rank websites with faster load speeds higher in their search rankings. Major ecommerce giant Amazon, reported in 2006 that for each 100 milliseconds they speeded up their page load speeds, directly correlated in a 1% increase in overall sales. Interested now? We thought so, here are 11 ways to improve your websites page load speeds.

1. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A CDN (such as Cloudflare) works by placing your files across several different servers around the world. For example, when you get a visitor from Brazil, they will download your website files from a sever that’s closest to them. Using a CDN can reduce as much as 60% bandwidth and greatly minimises the number of requests visitors make to your site. Using a CDN also helps your website become less susceptible to DDoS attacks, as files are distributed over several locations

2. Compress your images

Images are a major factor when it comes to page load speeds. There are several ways to compress images without comprising quality, for WordPress users we suggest downloading the Smush.it plugin. This will automatically reduce the size of every image on your site without distorting the visual appearance. Also, before uploading images to your server ensure that they are compressed as much as possible using a free programme like Irfanview

3. Spring clean your database

A problem with website platforms such as WordPress, is the size of your database can become very big in a small amount of time. Once you start making post revisions, adding plugins and extra widgets, your database can become a big drain on your server resources. Depending on the platform you use, there’s several ways to reduce the size of your database, from manually deleting files you don’t need, to downloading plugins that do all the hard work for you.

4. Compress your website

We mentioned the benefits of compressing images, but all your other files eat bandwidth too. Using server compression applications such as Gzip, will speed up page loads speeds by compressing all your website files into smaller compressed files. Hor hosting company should be able to install this very easily.

5. Don’t let others hotlink your images

‘Hot linking’ an image is when another website uses your image on their website, that’s sourced back to your website database. This results in bandwidth being taken for free by other websites for your images. There’s certain plugins you can use to stop this in WordPress, or by adding code to stops others from hot linking your pictures.

6. Sort out your broken links

Going through your website and fixing all 404 errors and broken links not only helps your site save bandwidth, but improves your Google performance and improves your visitor experience. If you site has many broken links, users are much more likely to leave your site, check your Google Webmaster Tools to see if you have any broken links or errors  and fix them. Alternatively, download the Broken Link Checker plugin on WordPress. Fix your links and watch not only your bounce rate fall, but your site speed up.

7. Is your code best practice?

If you hired a coder to create your website, did they use the best coding practices? It’s quite possible to have two identical websites that both look and respond the same, while being created from two different blocks of code. Using as little coding as possible is a sure fire way to improve page load speeds and reduce overall file sizes. If you’re not a coding expert, and chances are you’re not, ask someone who is to quickly look over your code and ask them what they think.

8. Ask Google

Google offers many amazing free tools you can use for your website, one of them being PageSpeed Insights. Simply enter the URL of your website and hit analyse. Once complete, Google will give you feedback on how your website loads up on desktop and mobile devices, and what further action you can take to help speed up your site.

9. Enable browser caching

Browser caching is an awesome tool all website owners should use, it work by allowing your previous visitors to save your sites commonly usee files on their local machine. So the next time they visit your site, they can access the files directly from their computer without having to make another HTTP request to your sever. Perfect!

10. Reduce your plugins

Less is more when it comes to installing plugins on your site. The more you have the slower your site becomes, and the more problems and security threats you open yourself up for. Any plugin you don’t require or no longer use, delete them. If you have a feeling a particular plugin is reducing the page load speed of your website, deactivate it and run a speed test to see whether it was slowing down your site. You might be surprised to see how much damage one small plugin can do to the page load speed of websites.

11. Use a faster web host

Not all web hosting companies provide the same quality service, depending on who you use, makes a tremendous impact on your website speed and performance. Popular budget host providers are names to avoid if your website drums up a lot of daily traffic.

Page-Load07Further Tools to check your website performance

Along with using Google PageSpeeds, there are several other free tools to check your website performance, they include:

Pingdom – is a great free tool that allows you to test the speed of your website, and monitor how quickly users can download files from your site.

Which Loads Fastercompares two sites against each other to see which one loads faster. It’s best used to compare your site with your competitors to see where you are falling behind.

WebPageTestallows you to check the speed of your site from several locations around the world. Users can create simple tests from testing page load speeds to video capture and visual comparisons.

Web Page Analyser – works very much like PageSpeed Insights in that it measures the speed of your website and gives you advice and tips on how to improve performance and efficiency.   As it stands today, around 48% of all Internet users come from mobile and tablet devices. The need to reduce file sizes and increase page load speeds is increasingly important. if your site takes too long to load, users will click back and head on over to your competitors.

Follow our 11 tips today and watch your page load speeds become faster than ever before.

Use the free tools listed in this article to test the speed and performance of your website. After making the 11 changes, run the tools again and let us know how your website got on in the comments below.

windows8

Sergio

October 31st, 2012.

Webmasters! Top Reasons You Should Upgrade to Windows 8

Upgrading to Windows 8 has been made very easy and surprisingly cheap. If you have Windows 7 currently installed on your machine and at least semi-decent specs, then you can upgrade to Windows 8 for $40 in no time at all.

But the question is, do you want to? With so many changes in Windows 8 this is a big decision and it’s not quite so straight forward as it was when you chose to embrace Windows 7. This has been designed as a touch and mouse based OS meaning that some of the things you’re familiar with just no longer exist and meaning that you’ll have to learn some new tricks and adapt to a new way of doing things. There’s no Start button for instance, and the Desktop is no longer the centre of everything you do.

Despite these changes however I’m going to argue that Windows 8 is a worthwhile upgrade and that you should on this occasion opt to embrace change – particularly if you run a blog or website or otherwise work online. Here’s why…

It’s Faster

The boot time for Windows 8 has been said to be about twice as fast as the boot time for Windows 7. This means that you do get a ‘close to tablet’ experience when it comes to quickly loading up and getting started which means that you don’t have to sit waiting as long for your computer to load up so that you can get typing. Five minutes saved a day even is worth investing in, but you’ll save more than that because the software all loads quicker too.

It’s Great for Touch Machines

While most of us still do most of our work with a keyboard and mouse, if you do have some kind of hybrid device then there’s no question here – you should install Windows 8 because you’ll get a lot more from that touch screen (and the swiping from the edges is very quick to operate with the thumbs).

It’s the Lesser Evil

Windows 8 represents change, but if you stick with Windows 7 you’re going to be left behind. Let’s think about what your other options are here – OSx? Linux? While you might like those two options, either of them are going to represent a bigger change still than switching to Windows 8 because they won’t run your ‘legacy software’ (in other words software for Windows 7). If you want to run the software you’ve loved and paid for, but you don’t want to be stuck in the past, then Windows 8 is your only realistic option (other than maybe Linux running Wine…).

The App Store

Having an app store on a PC is an interesting idea and could be a great way to get cheap games delivered to your machine and handy little apps made by developers. Meanwhile if you’re interested in app development then potentially this is going to represent a very real money making opportunity with a HUGE market and limited competition so it’s worth getting involved.

It Looks Nice

Whatever else you say about Windows 8 it does look cool. Sometimes just changing things up is interesting and exciting anyway, but when it looks this good it’s definitely worth taking the plunge just for a bit of something new. And you can always change back…

It’s a Big Topic

If you run a tech blog then you need to have Windows 8 on at least one device so that you can write about it. Even if your blog is in a different niche though, this is still going to put you at the forefront and mean you can join in with all those Windows 8 competitions rather than standing outside in the cold…

The guest post is written by George Ben who has been working on SEO and internet marketing since decades. Through his blogs, he recommends useful SEO tips and tricks to get your website on the first page google ranking.

Martina Martina

August 24th, 2011.

Why your website isn’t as fast as it should be…

Heavy wheelbarrow

400 Error!

Image source

Imagine…

…a wheelbarrow in an open field that you drag along every day filling it with this and that – each thing you add to it has some significance and some use.

Now imagine you never empty the wheelbarrow. Each day, not only do the things you found the week before now lie at the bottom covered by the newest additions, but the device also becomes increasingly heavy to pull until eventually, it becomes almost impossible.

Now think of the wheelbarrow as your website, and think of its contents as the factors affecting its speed – Let’s explore these factors…

Bad HTML:

Bad HTML example

Erm...does "b" stand for "big" or "bold"?

 

  • Empty spaces between code (This only adds to processing time)
  • Missing tags (Causing internal errors & bugs in the site)
  • Bulky HTML (such as using unnecessary tags where something more CSS compatible would work better e.g. using the tag “font-size” rather than just “small”)
  • Background colour being the same as text colour (making all text unreadable)
  • Hyperlinks that fail (Devaluing your site in terms of credibility, and possibly increasing bounce rates)
  • Missing images

An overload of HTTP requests:

An example of too many HTTP requests

Kabooooom!

Image source

 

Whenever your web browser fetches a file from a web server, for example when it loads a picture, it does this by using HTTP which stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol”.

HTTP is an action whereby you’re computer requests for a particular file. One example is a request for ‘home.html‘ (the homepage of a particular website). The web server then sends a response to the computer that says something like: “Here’s the file you asked for” which is followed by the actual file itself.
Understandably, if your server is receiving a very high volume of requests for a range of different things, such as pictures, graphics, photographs, music players and video rendering, it can take its toll and end up really slowing your website down.

JavaScript/Flash overuse:

Glowing computer

Dude, too much flash!

Image source

 

JavaScript helps make things look nice. Lines of code enable things such as widgets, adverts, and analytics services to work successfully. The issue is that both kinds of software can be “heavyweight”. JavaScript performs ‘sequentially’ rather than ‘concurrently’ – this means that nothing else loads before JavaScript loads. Of course, this becomes an issue when you have tonnes of JavaScript code, each one longer than the last, preventing anything else from happening.

Too many cookies:

The Cookie Monster

Nom Nom Nom!

Image source

 

HTTP Cookies are used mainly for personalization and authentication purposes. A series of saved information is exchanged between the web server and the browser in order to remember things about how you are using the internet. For example if you are shopping online and exit the website returning at a later date, a cookie will enable the site to remember what you had in your shopping cart so you don’t have to spend time finding the same items again.

However, because saved information is being kept on the server, a build up of this can add to the process time on a website. In some cases, hackers even use cookies as an opportunity to track browsing activity; this is called spyware…so beware!

Bad hosting:

 Image of Robert-Kilroy-Silk

Erm...

Image source

 

Web hosting is the business of providing storage space and access for websites. Bad web hosting happens when said storage space is overloaded with many websites, yours is added to the list and so runs slow. Other issues caused by a bad web host include:

  • Search engines being unable to crawl your site resulting in a fall in Search Rank
  • Your website being “down” (not working, sending out 404-errors)
  •  Not being able to contact your web host to fix the issue (since the service is so bad the system has probably crashed)

Excess of external media:

Multiple Satellite Dishes

No signal...

Image source

Embedded YouTube videos, actually embedded anything that is coming from another website can potentially slow yours down. When you embed something from another site, you are relying on that sites web server, that sites speed, and that sites ability to ensure the embedded item is working properly there, so that it works properly on yours site. Often, even when it works just fine, it might add an extra few seconds to a certain page loading…a few seconds a potential customer may be unwilling to wait!

Spam:

A Can of Spam

Ew, gross!

Image source

Spam is so much more than just a bunch of annoying emails. It slows down the Internet and it increases consumer fees.

The internet is a network where spamming effects everyone that uses it. To push spam around the internet relies on a process; it begins with global networks that pass the spam along to their destination, and ends with the message being received by the recipient.

Simultaneously, time, money and resources are used trying to catch and prevent spammers from infiltrating mail servers resulting in higher costs to the consumer because providers are forced to add more security to their servers and hire more staff to manage and prevent the problem.

Be sure to spam proof all web forms by adding “captchas” or similar.

Favicon neglect:

Image Illustrating a Favicon

You need one of these!

 

A ‘favicon’ is an image (as shown above) that stays in the root of your server. It’s definitely needed because even if you don’t care about them, the browser still requests one. If there isn’t one, it will respond with a 404 error (meaning not found). Any error message, such as a 404 or 301, is an extra message sent that adds time to the processing of a site.

This image or lack thereof, interferes with the processing sequence by requesting extra components in the load, and since the favicon is the first thing that is downloaded before these extra components, if there isn’t one, the first thing downloaded will be an error.

Too many advertisements:

Too many Ads

Hmm...where to start?

Image source

Any time a site uses advertisements, you are adding to other processes a site goes through in order to function correctly. Programmes like Google Adsense and Microsoft adcenter are external, and reputable, however it is logical to practice the same rules as with external media; everything in moderation – besides, sites with too many ads look un”site”ly! :-P

 

If any of these apply to you, take active steps to protect your website against sloth! Speed be with you!

Martina Martina

May 13th, 2011.

Does anyone else find Google this annoying?

Did you mean…/search instead for…?

YES, of course I meant that! – And If I left a vowel or a connective out because unlike you I am not a robot & I like to use computer-speak, then so be it. The bottom line is you knew what I meant – so did you have to be as condescending as that and point out the mistake I made?

 

Google Instant


Really Google? Finishing the search before I have written it? I mean c’mon – it’s one thing that you’re arrogant enough that you feel you need to tell me the speed in which you gathered my results, now you’re finishing my sentences for me like we’re in a marriage?

 

Personalised results


I’m at work, I’m signed into Google. I search a keyword phrase I’m using in Google Adwords & bingo – I’m ranking number 3 on the 1st page! That’s weird, yesterday I was on the 5th page, I haven’t upped the bids in-fact – I haven’t made any changes, but I’m not complaining at all, instead I sit & wait for the money to roll in. I get home from work and quickly carry out a query and sit back waiting to see my site turn up on the first page for that particular keyword and… hold on, it’s not there? I click to the next page and nothing. I carry on until get to page 5 and there my ad is. I find and ask an SEO expert why this has happened & I’m told that when I’m signed into Google, the results differ from when I am signed out. I feel as though I’ve been living in the Matrix. *sigh*

 

Google seasonal/holiday/anniversary/event themes


I know its Christmas when the streets are paved with sleet and debris and every shop I go into leaves me that little less well off than I was before I walked in. I know its May-Day when I get that extra day off of work, I know its election day when people lie to me about which policy I ought to be interested in because the amount of tax I pay will go down. Nevertheless, Google wants in on the reminders too. I guess its okay, but sometimes I just don’t want to care. I’m sorry.

 

Google Chrome’s Sloth


Look. I want a *extremely mild expletive* homepage button on the interface without having to go into the settings and put one there! Is that too much to ask? – Surely not if Firefox and IE understood it.

 

Sorry, we own YouTube so you can’t sign in without us knowing


Now, they may say a change is as good as a rest but I beg to differ. I’ve been signing in with the same username & password since I opened a YouTube account but Google wants more of a direct approach. Now you cannot access your settings unless you sign in via your Gmail account, which is reasonable enough – but what if you have multiple Gmail accounts? I don’t really have a problem with this one, but imagine if Google started buying up everything on the internet enforcing this same sign in rule or else no access. While it may not be that bad, it’s the principle…

…Oh well, as Google grows stronger by the query, I’m sure there will be more to add to this list soon!

Steff Steff

October 12th, 2010.

Dowce : Screen capture for the masses!

We’ve all been there, needing to show a friend or colleague something we’re seeing on our monitor but don’t want them to see the entire screen, so we reluctantly fire up photoshop (or paint!), then crop the image, save the image (thinking up some temporary filename and cluttering up yet another folder) and finally email the resulting image – wasting precious time and losing focus on other tasks at hand.

I got tired of this monotony so came up with a solution… dowce - Easy screen capture

Using the tool that sits next to your clock  you can very quickly highlight a portion of your screen and either copy to clipboard, save to your computer, or upload to dowce.com – where you’ll be given back a unique short URL to send out to people.  You can even add a caption and password protect your capture. It literally takes a few seconds and lets you get on with your other jobs.

Pre-launch, members of the team here at Datadial installed it on their office computers and found it to be really useful when composing emails to clients which needed to contain screenshots of statistics and website layouts.  Friends have also started using it to show each other winning (and losing) hands of online poker! It’s one of those tools that once you pick up, you use more than you would expect.

To give you an idea of what’s on offer, here’s a screenshot of the options you get after you’ve made your selection:

If you choose to Save to dowce.com you’ll receive a unique link to your capture…

It’s as simple as that! For a full demonstration of how it all works and to download dowce for free, visit www.dowce.com

Rob

July 22nd, 2010.

A glimpse into the future of E-tailing over and beyond traditional e-commerce

I recently went to a talk on the different forms that e-tailing is taking over and beyond the traditional e-commerce site.

Below is a distilled version of the talk with just the best bits.  A lot of these examples are only availabe in the US at the moment but by reading this  you are getting ahead of the curve!

(The talk was by the big cheese at Pod1 – Fadi – so credit to him for researching it all)

E-commerce via Apps

Squareup.com
Start accepting cash and card payments with Square. No contracts, monthly fees, or hidden costs. Effortlessly manage the money you take with an easy and intuitive interface. US only at the moment and only for payments less than $60 but one to watch for sure.

See corporate video

And a review on how it works

Google shopper (Android only)

This APP allows you to scan barcodes, the co

vers of books and media, and even search by voice – the app will tell you where you can buy the same product and at what price.  Pretty nifty if it works!

foursquare

It took 12 months for the location-based social network to attract one million users and by stark contrast; the second million only took three months. Ever since February 2010, the site has been registering over one million ‘check-ins’ a week.

See how it works:

New e-commerce software

Vendr

Vendr create POP-UP shops – They say that you can create your e-commerce site within 15 minutes.   These are basic obviously sites now but I guess they will improve. In any event they will probably do for many home based businesses.

from their site: “Works with your current website:  Add a “store” button to your blog or website, and your store will simply pop-up over your content — no more sending your customers elsewhere to make a purchase. Vendr functions as a part of your existing site. ”


Alvenda

Alvenda software allows you to create e-commerce shops within sites such as Facebook – Alvenda’s first customer, 1-800-Flowers.com, launched during the Mother’s Day holiday in 2009 and recognized a 10.5x lift in shopping activity by making it easier for people to shop.

New E-Tailing concepts

Cutting out the middle man – Harnessing the power of social media to revolutionise product manufacture and pricing.

Furniture:

http://www.made.com/
For furtniture design and manufacture: You choose what makes it into our collection. Vote for your favourites and the most popular will be made available to order.

Wine

http://www.nakedwines.com/
Buy early, pay less
The earlier you buy an air ticket, the less you pay. Now you can do the same with wine. Save £££!

Car Rental

Whipcar
WhipCar is the first service in the world where a car owner can rent out their vehicle for money, whenever they are not using it. WhipCar pairs sensible drivers with spare car time

Sergio

January 5th, 2010.

Adding Email accounts to Microsoft Outlook 2007 Manually

This tutorial will guide you through the setup of your email account. You will need the details we provided you to setup your account on Outlook

  1. Startup Microsoft Outlook 2007.(a)  If this is the first account you are setting up on outlook a Wizard will startup, click Next.
    Outlook 2007 Startup

    On the account Configuration Select yes to configure E-mail account then click Next. Go to to step 2

    E-mail Accounts
    (b) if you already have an account setup and would like to add another e-mail account.
    Select Tools on the Menu Bar then Account Settings.

    Account Settings

    Select New.

    Add New E-mail

  2. Select Microsoft Exchange,POP3, IMAP, or HTTP then click Next

    Select E-mail Service

  3. Enter E-mail account details
    Type your name: e.g. Joe Blogs
    Type your E-mail address: e.g. joe@demo.co.uk
    Type your Password: e.g. password
    Then retype your password: e.g. password
    Then Select Manually Configure Server Settings or additional Server types then click Next

    Auto Account Setup

  4. Choose E-mail Service
  5. Select Internet E-mail then click Next

    Select Internet E-mail

  6. Enter Server Information
    Account type: POP3
    Incoming Mail Server : Information provided by Datadial
    Outgoing Mail Server(SMTP): Information provided by Datadial
    User Name: Information provided by Datadial
    Password: Information provided by Datadial
    Select Remember password then click More settings

    Enter Email Details

  7. Outgoing Server Setup
    Select Outgoing Server tab
    Select my outgoing Server (SMTP) requires authentication and Use same settings as my incoming server then click OK

    Select Outgoing Server

    Select Test Account Settings and check if everything is completed then select Next

  8. Finish Setup
    Select Finish. If you still have an account settings window open you can click close to return to Outlook

    Finish Wizard

Alex

July 19th, 2008.

Microsoft SharePoint

Most businesses have to deal with a wealth of information on a daily basis, in the form of emails, office documents, meeting agendas, business plans, project milestones etc. You don’t have to be a genius to realise that even the most well oiled business can find it hard to organise all of this information in a way that is centralised and accessible to the key individuals that need it. In many cases this information is stored in a number of locations including: file systems, web sites, databases, excel files or even in paper files.

Tying these pieces of information together is crucial for the success or any aspiring or enterprise level business. The best place to start is by making this information easier to find by creating a centralised location to store it in. The next step is allowing individuals and teams to have access to this information inside and outside your organisation via intranets and extranets. This is where Microsoft’s SharePoint comes into play.

What is SharePoint?
SharePoint is best described as a “browser based collaboration and document management platform.” It can be used to host a wealth of different data storage mediums in a manner that make accessing the relevant information extremely easy.
Each individual piece of SharePoint functionality is exposed as web part, which is an individual frame or column based piece of information (similar to the way web pages are separated into section like: main-content, left-sidebar, footer etc). Each web part can represent a predefined collation of related information (i.e. monthly meetings, current projects, today’s weather, industry related blogs/RSS feeds etc). Users can view a summary of the web parts content or click through to access a more detailed view of that particular topic.

Each SharePoint site is built using ASP.Net 2.0, .Net Framework, IIS Web Server and an SQL Server database. This has huge advantages to IT companies that already use these technologies as SharePoint is fully customisable. Even if you aren’t a developer or database administrator it is still possible to create impressive workspaces using SharePoint’s intuitive templates and drag and drop web part functionality.

Office 2007 Integration
SharePoint has tight integration with Microsoft Office and can be used to manage large amounts of documents by creating a centralised point of access. The addition of version control means that groups can ensure that they are working with the most up-to-date version of a document and that any changes they make will be reflected across an entire organisation. This integration provides a simple, familiar and consistent user interface.

Security and Authentication
Using window authentication, all users of SharePoint can be identified accurately identified. SharePoint administrators can designate specific privileges / permission so that only certain users can view, add, edit or delete certain content. Network users can be invited to view new content via email and online status can be verified via SharePoint’s integration with Instant Messenger.

Separate SharePoint sites can also exist, that target specific departments or topics. These sites can be as simple or as complex as necessary, restricting access to authorised members only. Each site can also have child sites (i.e., the Datadial site contains an Accounts and an IT site. The IT site can then contain an SEO sub-site and a VB.Net sub-site.).

Summary
SharePoint has a wealth of possibilities depending of the needs of an organisation, department or individual. It s ability to centralise data from a number of data sources in a manner that is both searchable and collaborative is so astounding that once adopted, many will wonder how they work without it.

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