Website Hosting Agency: Website Performance, & Issue Resolution
Web Hosting Agency: Fix Performance; Track & Resolve Issues
Here Are Tips & Plugins That Improve Websites
You might start your search with a website performance test by GT Metrix at gt.net
Here is a post on WordPress administration. It lists some settings, themes, plugins, and other baseline installation requirements for speed, stability, security, and usefulness.
Note that my personal website, JimCaruso.com, is hosted at WordPress.com and that this blog post refers to that site and other sites we own or manage with the open-source content management system (CMS) software from WordPress.org
Many of these tips, such as the plugins, are specific to WordPress.
WEB HOSTING: Stable, Fast, and Secure
I use three hosting platforms right now, WordPress.com, Pantheon, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
I’m also a fan of Drupal, another open-source, web content management system (CMS). All our Drupal sites are now at Pantheon.
We run all sites in the latest, stable versions of PHP 7.x.
After making a change to a website, we reset file permissions and flush the website cache.
AKISMET: Blog Post Comment Spam Prevention
Akismet is a plugin from the company behind WordPress (Automattic) that screens each comment on a blog post. It is spam detection for a WordPress website and works well.
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
The AMP plugin we use is developed by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.
Google reCAPTCHA 2: Form Submission Spam Prevention
Captcha and Google’s new reCaptcha 2 force validation when a web visitor attempts to submit a form. The latest versions have a checkbox that says “I’m not a robot” but can also have no visible validation box. Older versions had simple math challenge questions or showed an image with text that the user had to enter into a validation field.
JETPACK: Multi-Tool Plugin from WordPress
Jetpack is a plugin from the company behind WordPress (Automattic) that provides lots of functionality.
Display Speed & Faster Page Loading with EWWW Image Optimizer Cloud or TinyPNG for Image Size Reduction
I am using one of three plugins for image optimization: JetPack (above), EWWW Image Optimizer Cloud or the one from TinyPNG that uses lossy compression to reduce the file size of JPEG and PNG images, thereby reducing web page load time and bandwidth requirements for image transfer from your website’s server to the web browser of your website visitor.
Mailchimp: Email Service with Great Functionality
We love Mailchimp as our go-to email service provider (ESP). We send newsletters that are generated using the content of blog posts. We can also use MailChimp and their transactional email service, Mandrill, to send transactional or triggered emails. I am also using TinyLetter from Mailchimp.
SMTP Plugin: Lets Your Website Send Emails Reliably
To send informational and password reset emails directly from the website, we use a transactional email service, such as Mailchimp’s Mandrill offering, along with an SMTP gateway plugin.
Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Tag Manager
Google Analytics is the default website analytics tool for webmasters. There are open-source alternatives, such as Piwik. Google Search Console validates your site with Google and performs some checks.
Google Search Console, a part of Google Webmaster Tools, validates your site with Google and performs some checks. You register how you want your site indexed by Google’s search engine. For example, does the domain name of your site show http://or https:// (https:// secure sites now rank higher in search results). Does the site resolve to domain.com (non-www) or www.domain.com (www)? What is the target country for visitors to your site? Google Search Console also lets you submit a site map of the content you want Google to index.
Google Tag Manager: We use this on some sites.
Forms: Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7, and WuFoo
We use all these form providers Gravity Forms, (not free) and WuFoo. There are also specialized form providers, for tasks such as a poll, survey, or multi-page surveys, like Survey Monkey or Typeformhttps://www.typeform.com/templates/c/forms/.
Settings to Double-Check
Settings->General->Site Address (URL) = make sure this resolves to the URL you want visitors to visit, such as https://yoursite.com, note the secure Certificate for https
Settings->Reading = uncheck the box, “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”
Settings->Permalinks = best set to “Post name”
Utility Plugin: Search & Replace
Search & Replace plugin: I was in chat with a support guy from WPEngine, who helped me solve an issue where links were created that were not https or were sitename.wpengine.com. Using the "search and replace" capability, I was able to easily change all the URLs in the WordPress install to https://thecorrectdomain.com. Plus, it had a preview feature that let me see the selection results without making the modification, so I was comfortable to proceed with the database changes. Here is a second option that I have not used but had good reviews, Better Search & Replace.
Display Speed: Above the Fold
There are many tricks to speed page loading for a visitor to your website, one is to load only what is visible to that user, the content “above the fold.” Above the fold refers to newspapers (the paper ones) and how they come folded, so only the masthead and top stories are visible. We have used a plugin named Above The Fold Optimization.
wA11y -The Web Accessibility Toolbox plugin removes barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, websites by people with disabilities. The data show 1 in 5 people have a disability, so you may be excluding 20% of your potential web visitors.
To route email to firstname.lastname@example.org, we use Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) or an offering from Amazon Web Services (AWS). This is not a web hosting issue, but it comes up when you get a new domain name.
DNS (Domain Name Service)
We’ve moved to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for DNS hosting. DNS is the service that points domain names to services like a web site (like https://yourdomain.com) or an email address (like email@example.com).