Web Page Performance – Such Are The Mysteries of Life

For over 15 years a group of us have run Pre-Dating.com, the largest speed dating company in the US.

Pre-Dating.com, like many websites that have been around a while is somewhat of an enigma at this point in time.

Time has moved on, but we haven’t at Pre-Dating.com! Some tech things we work on don’t have to change that rapidly.  They are great because they just work!

There is good reason why we don’t change rapidly. If you search on “speed dating seattle” and place that search into Google, we are number 1 organically, so we don’t exactly want to change that.  We are found by at least 110 other city names on page one. And we have more to risk with some serious changes now than to gain.

That explains a lot when you look at Craigslist, Reddit, Ebay and others.  Some of the risk is SEO based (you could lose your ranking).  Some of the risk is customers not being happy with a change.

There is a case study where eBay came up with design change the customers hated.  They put back the old design and never changed it. So if push comes to shove, as a web manager you are most likely to leave it as is!

Major Changes You Can’t Ignore

But there are some real risks to your website and web business as technology evolves without your site evolving.  The world changed dramatically in 15 years in online dating for instance.  You have to keep up with some of the critical changes or you are going to be out of business.  I can list about 10 online dating sites no longer around.

You just have to determine which technical changes are important and critical and which ones are not that critical.

For instance, did we need an online dating site with a login and membership for our event company?

It would have been nice, but we were fine without it.   Our customers did not need it.

Did we need a mobile app for our dating event company?

Actually, we were fine without a mobile app, even though every web guru, tech startup guy and their mother was crying up till recently you need a mobile app or you are out in the cold.   There are many of these potential technical directions and changes we could undertake, but the big two changes we can not afford to not keep up with are mobile ready and page speed.

Mobile Ready

This is a really a ten year old discussion.  When the first smart phone emerged, the very first smart phone people started to surf Pre-Dating.com.  About 4 years ago we recognized that our mobile traffic on Pre-Dating.com was growing by the day.   So, we decided to make a few key pages mobile ready and we have converted at least 50,000 event sales via smart phones since then.

Page Speed Comes A Knocking

And you would think page speed (The actual time it takes to load a page) would have always been a concern.  The answer is yes.  But it is now even more critical considering mobile requires faster speeds.

And in the US we don’t necessarily have the fastest connections on all our smart phones, yet we are beating the crap out of the networks with our smart phones and tablets!  So yes speed of a page load is important!

And I believe Google is ranking sites based on speed, somewhere in the Larry Page Rank, so its all part of getting found through nature search.  Plus people who have a long loading time on  your web page just leave!

So, I took a hard look at our web speed.  The first tool I used is the free tool here at Web Page Test:

http://www.webpagetest.org/

This is a real techies tool.  I use it to see if the problem with speed is at the first click or is it a javascript include, a plugin or some other issue like database query speeds.

And I started to find a bunch of new tools that were not around back when we started that are less technical, like this one by Google (Should be able to click on the text below):

Google PageSpeed Insights tool

Just stick your web page (any page URL on your site) into the box and click the Analyze button.

It comes back and says a bunch of things are not good, like often you don’t have a compression or browser caching deployed.  It also comes back and shows you what your mobile looks like and it defines a score on your mobile separate from your desktop users.

What I found fascinating is if you analyze almost any website through this Google PageSpeed Insights tool, like in this case Match.com, Yahoo.com, Huffington Post, Drudge Report and a thousand other websites out there, they all have problems with speed.  Even Apple.com sucks when it comes to speed. In fact, the entire web world is way behind on this.  In fact, it seems most big websites don’t care or don’t know they have issues and problems.

The entire web is now comprised of popular websites that couldn’t give a rats ass if it takes 10 seconds to load on your iPhone.

So, I shouldn’t feel so bad for our lowly speed dating site.

But, this also means if you run Google PageSpeed Insights and make the changes Google recommends, you will get a leg up on competitors.  So I started to make these changes.  And along the way I ran into all kinds of cobwebs of the Internet past and present that needed to be looked at and sometimes fixed.  It is a cornucopia of web issues…

A lot of us started to implement open source WordPress sites and we kind of left this kind of stuff to the plugins and the framework.  We just started writing our blog articles and not worrying about the HTML, CSS and everything in the kitchen sink.

We (who have been in the web world) for over 15 years already knew how critical these small details were for web page speed.  We just need a good tool to tell what is wrong!

So, let’s face it.  In the end, you need to research, read and get a PHD in web site speed to master this little baby of a problem.  I am thinking about blogging about all the issues I found and fixed.  In fact, check out http://pre-dating.com on your desktop or mobile and you will notice it is now lightning speed in most cases.  Well one of the secrets I will give away is local browser caching.  The first click may be slow, but then the browser caches it all and you end up fast on the second and every other click because or reused resources!

Have a great day!

Dan Gudema
dan@startuppop.com

This article was originally published on Linkedin under: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/web-page-performance-mysteries-life-dan-gudema?trk=pulse_spock-articles

Anybody Can Publish A Book Through CreateSpace.com

They have made it very easy to publish a book through Amazon these days.

How do I know?  I have published 3 books in the past year, and I have a new book about to be released about startup names. To get on my book list to get a FREE Ebook to be released soon about coming up with a startup name click here: http://www.startuppop.com/about-us-2/

Amazon at some point purchased CreateSpace.com.  I have used CreateSpace.com to publish 3 books for free over the past year.   Yes for FREE.  I heard today from a friend that somebody paid thousands to publish their book.  You can pay thousands, even in CreateSpace.com.  But you could just as easily do it for nothing.  That is a personal choice.

Most anybody can do it who is the least bit savvy with websites, Microsft Word and graphics. We have used http://CreateSpace.com to self-publish my books. You can go there now and start the process of self-publishing.  Trust me, it is no big deal!

The problem is while it is very easy to publish a book, it’s still work to write one.

Writing is something that you desire to do.  If is a chore, then stop reading this article now and go golfing. It takes time to write obviously and it could be hard for many to write.  Only writing can make you a better writer.  That’s why I tell people to write a little bit each week or day.  This blog is just a small piece of writing I am doing out of a larger body of work I have been working on.

Being able to write well; that alone is a big barrier.  You can overcome this by writing a blog or even leaving me a comment on this article.

Other people who want to write tell me they don’t know exactly what to write about.  That comes with time and patience.  Write a bunch of blog articles and you will see a pattern to your writing. And that is what you will write about.

Most people want to read books that are well written and on a subject they are interested in.  Start off with writing a book YOU would want to read yourself. That is the best book for you to write.

There are easier and easier ways to accomplish writing a book. As one friend of mine pointed out, he no longer hand writes his books, he simply dictates them. So if you are good at talking that is one way to write your book, speaking it right into your SmartPhone, where it gets perfecting translated!

And writing a book just to have it on your shelf to hand to a new client as a financial only deal is not that impressive anymore (most anybody can do that!)  Well, let’s just say, that there is something about writing in general which is all about honesty and transparency.  People are great readers and they know if the writing makes sense and has an impact!  If you are simply writing a bunch of rules in a book to show you are an industry expert and the book is less than 30 pages that you could easily read on some website out there with a Google search, well, maybe that means you need to dig in and rethink your whole reason for writing a book.  Maybe people will see right through that.

I had started out in 2007, blogging away just like in this Linkedin post.  I had written about 100 blog posts between 2007 and 2014.  For my first book, I took the best 20 that revolved around a single subject, Startups, and put them together as a book.  Sounds simple, right. Well, I still had to work hard at editing and making sure the book made sense.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “why in god’s name would I want to write a book”.

Well, after a friend recently recommended Authority by Nathan Barry http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18070394-authority, I am seeing the light on how writing can be the path to many things, the most important of which is making a living.  He points out that you can become an expert in your field even though you did not start out that way.

Just writing about a subject will make you an expert at a subject over time.  Eventually you will become an authority!

It will get you gigs/jobs, you can accomplish a life-long goal, you can get your point across, you can heal some souls, you can heal your soul, you can free the truth, you can confuse and conspire but most of all you can help people.

But one thing in Nathan Barry’s book that really struck me is how he focused on becoming an “Authority”.  When you become an authority on a subject, then you can write and sell your work and make a living as a writer.  I get that.  It makes sense.

Writing to be an authority is very different than writing a novel or screenplay. Those are creative works.  To write a non-fiction book, you may desire to reach out to become an authority or maybe not.  Barry goes even further to suggest honing in on subjects that can make other people a living.  Teaching people how to make money through your book, whether it is tech, financial, marketing, self-help or another method is part of being an Authority on the subject.  Obviously you could write a book about most anything, but helping others help themselves is an excellent place to start.

I am going to do a series of blog articles about self publishing and take you step by step through the process.  So please get on my list so you can read about my next series of articles.

Once again if you have not gotten on my email list at StartupPOP.com, please click this link http://www.startuppop.com/about-us-2/and add yourself to this email list.  I will be giving away one of my Kindle version/Ebooks for FREE in an upcoming email if you get yourself on this list:

http://www.startuppop.com/about-us-2/

Have a great day and start writing your book today.

Dan