Creative Digital Solutions
I take an objective view of every project, exploring different ways of delivering your finished project to you. Sometimes this means you ask for a website refresh but as well as delivering design mockups I’ll suggest additional new, different methods of helping your business grow.
I can deliver brand re-designs, a website overhaul, design business cards or brochures, drive a new SEO campaign, and also create bespoke software and electronic solutions.
Wordpress and design blog posts
I spent some time recently working on a couple of website designs that could really use a little design flourish, and I thought styling the ampersand would be just enough. Looking back to an old bit of code I knew you could usee CSS to style your special ameprsands, render them in Baskerville styled in Italic and hey presto….. wait what? This doesn’t look so good anymore, what the heck is up with Baskerville.
After trawling the web for a while I *think* I have found the answer – Baskerville is now called ‘Libre Baskerville’ in the Google font library, so changing your css font-family reference from “Baskerville” to “Libre Baskerville” fixed it up. For a couple of great references on styling beautiful ampersands I’d recommend these resources.
I wrote an article last year about how to speed Woocommerce up. It’s turned out to be a pretty popular post, but as with everything online things have moved on and it feels like the right time for an update. WordPress is great but the number one complaint you hear is ‘WordPress is slow!’ – it doesn’t have to be, and here’s our advice on how to speed up WordPress making 2 simple changes – optimise your hosting and cache your content.
Change Your Hosting
You need to start by figuring out if your hosting is part of the problem. This website is hosted on a server managed by Names.co.uk. We have used WP Engine in the past for some clients who preferred that as a hosting option, and Dreamhost has also come highly recommended.
Use Google PageSpeed Insights to check a variety of issues on your website, including server response time. Server response time measures how long it takes to load the necessary HTML to begin rendering the page from your server, subtracting out the network latency between Google and your server.
If it looks like your server response time is slow then this is the single most important thing you can change to speed up your WordPress website.
If you find your hosting is lacking there’s plenty of good hosting companies out there that you can move your website to, and the market has changed a bit in recent years with the emergence of companies like WP Engine and Dreamhost. WP Engine provide hosting just for WordPress websites and aims to deliver super fast hosting whilst dealing with a lot of the configuration for you. They provide caching and a CDN and handle updates for you so if you’re a ‘not so techy’ WordPress website owner this could be the best solution for you to speed up your WordPress website. With plans starting from $29 (£18) per month and a 60 day money back guarantee you can’t really go wrong giving it a go! WordPress Hosting with WPEngine.com →
If you want a more ‘independent’ feel to your hosting I’d recommend Namesco. They host this very website and I’ve been a happy customer of theirs since 2008, using both a VPS (Virtual Private Server) and a dedicated server. There have been a few blips along the way but the uptime has been for the most part superb, their support has improved with a team who have been endlessly patient with me over the years. They provide plenty of hosting options, from shared hosting, through to fully managed dedicated servers and cloud hosting. Visit the Namesco Website →
Caching Your Content – Pre-Making Your Sandwiches!
So what is caching? The simplest way I can think of describing it is this – Imagine walking into a cafe and ordering a sandwich, waiting for someone to slice the bread, and make the sandwich. Compare that to walking in to the same cafe, ordering the same sandwich but being handed it straight away, so you hand your money over and off you go. You’re already half way down the street while the other guy is still waiting for his bread to be buttered. Are you still with me?!
If you’re confused, what I’m saying is you need to pre-make your web pages.
WordPress stores all your page and post content in a database, and every visitor to your website that asks to see one of your pages is making the WordPress elves scurry off to find all the bits of data and assemble them into a page. Imagine 20 visitors ask for the same page this afternoon, if that’s a page you only update once a month then why would you do that? It would be much more sensible to have a pre-assembled version ready to show each of them wouldn’t it? ANd then if you made a change to that content you’d just rebuild that version and so on. Well, that’s caching your pages!
There are several well known caching plugins that have been around for a number of years and while they do a great job they are pretty complicated and awkward to set up and use. And then WP Rocket walked into my life a few months ago and all that changed. It’s not free, but you get what you pay for, remember! You download it, install and configure it in less time than it takes to put the kettle on. Seriously, just by activating the plugin you are caching your pages. It is amazing! Visit the WP Rocket website →
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