Things You Should Never, Ever, Ever Do On Your Website

Website Maintenance That Won’t Crash Your Site!

Here at ITD Interactive we’ve had 20 years in the business of web development, website maintenance services, and website hosting for local clients and beyond. In that time we’ve also taken over some old websites that needed to be redone and spruced up. It’s in that work that we’ve come across many web design no-no’s that you should never do yourself.

Part of our standard web design package includes staff training so that our clients will always be able to update their own sites. While we’re happy to continue working on sites if needed, we don’t believe in forcing clients to use us exclusively for their maintenance and updates.

For those of you want to be adventurous and update your own sites, take a look through this list of what NOT to do first.

DON’T: Self-host a video for a website background

Using a video as a hero background is a great way to add motion and personality to your site. But be careful when setting it up – uploading your video directly to your media folder could bring your whole site down.

Look at it this way: on average a looped video file that’s been processed for use on the web is still going to be about 5 megabytes. If one or two people open your website and download that file, it’s no big deal. But if for some reason you get a rush of 200 people looking at your site all at once, suddenly 200 people are trying to download that 5mb file at the same time and using up a gigabyte of bandwidth. For many lower-end hosting plans that can be a huge chunk of your monthly allotted bandwidth, and using that much at once can even entirely crash your site so that nobody will be able to look at it without a time-consuming and expensive support call.

Do this instead: Plan ahead for these traffic rushes by using a third party site to host your video. Many slider plugins will let you easily paste in the URL of the video and display it perfectly on your slider without using any of your bandwidth. This should go for any video, not just backgrounds! There are plenty of great options available for video hosting like Vimeo or even YouTube.

DON’T: Upload full-size images

Just like self-hosted video files, it would only take a few huge images on your website for a traffic rush to bring your server to a crashing halt. Raw files that come straight off a phone or camera can be 10mb in size or greater, so uploading lots of these will burn through your allotted bandwidth and disk space more quickly that you can imagine. It’ll also drive your users crazy if they have to wait for huge files to download before the entire site can be seen, especially if they’re using a mobile phone on wireless data to view your site.

Do this instead: Process your images first before uploading by resizing and optimizing them in a program like Photoshop. If you don’t have access to Photoshop there are free alternatives online like Pixlr. For most uses your image shouldn’t need to be larger than 1920px on the longest side at 72 PPI, compared to the huge 2500px+/300 PPI files from your smartphone or camera. You can save your images in JPG format for most situations – you should only need a bulkier PNG or a GIF in special circumstances that require higher definition or a transparent background.

DON’T: Forget about the mobile version of your site

More than half of the visitors to your site will view it on a mobile device. Not only that, but Google now actively penalizes sites that aren’t optimized for use on mobile. It’s absolutely crucial to work on the mobile view of your site alongside the desktop view! Ignoring this step when adding or changing content will result in frustrated mobile users leaving your site and Google knocking it down in search engine ranking.

Do this instead: Always test your site in a mobile view when adding new content. Use a phone or tablet to open your site, or if you don’t have one available you can resize your browser window into a vertical ratio to get a good idea of how your site will look on a mobile device. Make changes as needed to make sure all of your content can be viewed and navigated normally.

These are a just few of the major no-no’s to watch out for in website maintenance, but believe us when we say there will always plenty more lurking. Keeping a website up and running with fresh content is crucial to any business

If maintaining your own website is becoming too much of a burden, talk to us about our maintenance plans!

We’ve got a package to fit any size business with any size budget and will work with you to make sure your website is always updated and filled with fresh content tailor made to boost your presence. Contact us today to find out how to get started.

Small Business Web Design 2013 Part 2: Shrunken Heads

In Part 1, we discussed how the growth of tablet usage is going to effect small business web design in 2013. In the next few parts, we will take a look at the innovative new design which launched a couple of months ago.

What does USAToday’s design have to do with small business web design, you ask? A couple of points on that and then we’ll jump into an analysis of the new design.

  1. Much of web design already owes its heritage and terminology to the newspaper industry.  In web design, we often talk about what is going to show up “above the fold”.  That means what content is going to show up without the user having to scroll down.  Newspapers used “above the fold” to describe the top half of the front page of the paper because newspapers sat in display stands folded in half.  You had better get good content “above the fold”.  Same thing holds true in web design.  First impressions are crucial.
  2. USAToday turned the news design industry on its head in the 80s and they continue to lead the way today.  Big bold color on the front page, daring use of white space in the page content, and have you ever heard of an infographic?  USAToday pioneered the infographic which has carried over particularly well on the web.

Yes, there are some differences in objectives with news sites and small business websites, but there are significant shifts coming in web design and USAToday is leading the way.

Shrunken Heads

Shrunken Heads

Small is the new big. Well, when it comes to the header, we see a trend towards reduction. Look at the headers for these three news orgs.  We’ll talk logos later in the series, but you can see very quickly that USAToday is trying to get everything else out of the way and get you to the content (what you came to the site for) quicker.  They had to make some reductions in menu choices up top to pull it off.  Check out the number of menu items on the three sites . . . (more…)

Small Business Web Design 2013 Part 1: Tablet-Centric

This blog series will look at some trends in devices, design, usage, and social media activity and how those trends affect small business web design.

John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine, had some good things to say last Friday in his post 5 Trends That Will Shape Small Business in 2013.  We find #5 particularly interesting . . .

5. Tablet optimization becomes the mobile standard. 

We’ve all been rushing around the last few years talking about optimizing everything for the mobile device. The other day I witnessed three different women fish tablets from their purses while they were shopping.

The new generation of mini tablets are going to impact responsive design and what we’ve been calling mobile devices. Tablets and mini tablets will see a tremendous jump in server logs and become the de facto design standard for mobile content. That doesn’t mean mobile phone size browsers aren’t important, it means there will eventually need to be a divide in how we address tablets vs. phones.

Our recent study of web usage in the region showed that mobile web browsing has doubled in the past year.  When we look at analytics for our clients, we are indeed seeing a jump in tablet usage.

So what does that mean for small business web design?  We’re already designing websites that are mobile-responsive, but there is a big difference between viewing a site on a smart-phone and a tablet.  We have to start considering a third usability layer with it’s own nuances. (more…)

TriCities Mobile Web Usage Doubles in 12 Months

According to web analytics data from a broad range of our local TriCities clients, mobile web usage nearly doubled in the past 12 months from 8% to 15%.

TriCities Mobile Web Usage 2012

As an Inbound Marketing and web design firm serving Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol, TN, we compile web stats for small business websites in the area and tracked the percentage increase in mobile usage from October 2011 through September 2012.  The types of businesses in the study included industrial, professional services, financial planning, retail, and tourism. (more…)