Every Tuesday over on Instagram I run this little mini column called Tech Trouble Tuesdays. In it I answer your website and WordPress questions, and help you make your site better one step at a time.
And every month? I take those questions and answers (along with any extra useful information from the comments and links I mentioned) and write it up into a round-up post. Because all that information? Way too useful to leave stuck at the bottom of my profile.
If you’ve any questions for future Tech Tuesdays go ahead and comment here, message me anywhere on social, email me, whatever. I’m here for you.
Your WordPress Wizard
Click on the images below to jump to a question:
How Can I Make Images On My Site Load Faster?
If you’re looking for the change that will make the most impact on your site speed as far as images are concerned the answer is use less of them.
Use smaller images. Have a website that looks amazing without massive images all over the place and you’ll have a much faster website.
The best performing sites are a balance between appearance, function, and speed. If there’s a way to get the same result (or a better one) without an image it can be worth exploring. For everything else?
These steps here will help;
- Use the best file type for your image; Jpg for photographs, png for line art / text heavy images / images with few colours.
- If you know what size your images need to be on your site itself, it’s worth sizing them ahead of time to match using your image editing software.
- Use an image optimization service or plugin (these are generally free, and reduce file sizes significantly with little to no loss in quality). Link here for the 6 best, but I personally like EWWW Image Optimizer.
***All righty folks! Retina works a little differently, it’s not about dpi at all for that, and the upshot is they need 2x bigger images. Here’s the right way to prepare your sites for retina according to Codetuts+***
How Can Identify Plugins Slowing Down My Site?
Raise your hand if you’ve been told that more plugins equals a slower website?
These days it’s more accurate to say that some plugins are poorly coded and/or contribute to slower site speeds whereas others barely have an impact at all.
Today’s question is about identifying which plugins cause your site to slow, and fortunately the answer is really simple.
As Irish as it sounds, you install a plugin to test the speed and performance of your other plugins. A couple of years ago this would have been P3 created by Godaddy, but it’s not been updated in so long that using it can cause site problems, so the new kid on the block for figuring this out is WordPress Inspector by MailMunch.
It checks for issues slowing down your site, broken plugins and themes, security issues, basic SEO checks, and performance issues. It’s as simple as installing and scanning, then using the results to decide which plugins to keep and which to replace with an equivalent or remove entirely. (Link to WP Inspector)
***Can be done through Chrome now with the latest update – thanks to @Nadiabridge for your addition!***
What Should I Put On My Home Page?
Really depends on what you need your site to do.
First questions you should be asking yourself are what is the goal of your site (more subscribers, sales, clients, what?) and where do people need to go in order to complete that goal?
For example, if you’re looking for more subscribers it makes sense to have your newsletter signup form front and centre, whereas if you want to build trust and gain a client then your first steps might be to point them towards your About or Services page.
Once you know where you need people to go and what priorities you have for your site, you can usually pinpoint what has to appear on your Home quickly and easily.
Home pages don’t have to be complicated, they’re just the front entrance of your site; if you’re giving a tour of your online home where do you go next?
What On Earth Do I Put In My Sidebar?!
As little as possible.
Ok, so the more complete answer is this;
Figure out where you want people to go from your blog posts/page (assuming that’s where your sidebar is displayed for this example) and what you want them to do next.
Do you want them to subscribe to your newsletter?
Do you want them to read more of your posts and get to know you better? Are there specific ones they should read?
Is the next logical step to find you on Instagram? Facebook? Twitter?
Your answer will vary depending on what story, what journey you’re taking your people through.
It might make sense for someone who has their newsletter optin at the bottom of each post to use their sidebar to help people find the best posts to read.
Equally, it might make sense to send people to your Facebook page if you know that the best interactions and best leads come from Facebook after they’ve spent time getting to know YOU better.
But the one thing you don’t do?
Don’t fill it with random crap that ‘looks cool’ or ‘should be there, right?’ or ‘I heard that you should always have…’
Add only what you need for the next step, only what makes sense. And as little as you can get away with. Attention is the most precious gift online, nudge us somewhere of value.
That depends, do you have a website?
Slightly facetious? Yup. But the fact is we’re actually required to have these documents by law because of the Data Protection Act. It’s a big deal.
They’re also completely no fun to write. I understand. There are templates around (which you can wade through if you really feel like it, but here’s the one I use) and you can even hire a lawyer to draw up a personal one for you (that completely covers your ass legally).
So long as you have one and it is as clear and complete as you can make it, you are in pretty good shape. (Disclaimer; not a lawyer, just a web designer)
But oh my god yes, have one!!!
Do I Need Categories When I Have Keywords?
I actually nearly fell off my chair at this question. Because I had no idea it was something that confused my less-tech-obsessed friends. But it DOES make a lot of sense, since on the surface these seem pretty similar (and when you throw tags into the mix? Oh boy).
Let’s go to our trusty (slightly dusty) library to explain this a little better. In our library there are several bookcases, a computer you can use to search for books, and a variety of different topics.
Each bookcase has a nice big sign on it telling you what genre of book you’ll find there. Broad terms, like Business or Fiction A-J.
Each shelf has sections splitting those down even further into things like “Entrepreneurship”, “Accounting”, “Small Business”.
On the computer you can search for any sort of topic with just a few keystrokes and it’ll return a list of everything that matches what you’re looking for. In that results list there are some words Bolded that you can click on and see everything in that section, and they seem to make a little more sense than straight searching.
Scene set? Good. Let’s get started. The bookcases are Categories; they impose order on your website. By looking at these people have a good idea what they’ll get in that section. The sections inside each bookcase are your Sub-Categories, they help you refine the larger categories on your site and make it even easier for users that are browsing on a topic.
The Computer is your search bar on your site (if you have one, not everyone does) and the bolded words are tags. They are curated by the owner of the site to give searchers a little leg up in finding what they need (and work totally independently of categories).
Where are the keywords? The keywords are what you use, in the comfort of your own home, to search the larger internet for your topic. If you’ve set your site up with keywords (or they’ve been curated naturally by Google) then for searches similar to your topic your library will show up, with its specific book. They work like tags, but whole world not just your site.
Category = Bookcase, order, structure, easy to browse.
Keyword = Google Search.