Web Design

Forced to Use Google+

Ok,, Google – I’m finally doing what you’re obviously trying to tell us website owners what we have to do – use Google Plus but it’s hard… really painful:

Google-plus-crash

When I first signed up for Google+ it was called something else (I forgot what). And now they’ve changed it a bunch of times and then confused the hell out of everything by combining Google Maps profiles (causing TONS of problems). At first, there was nobody there… it was like a ghost town. Now, you’ve got geeks and SEO people using it and I think most of us are doing it reluctantly.

Managing profiles is painful. Ok, I’m managing a page, then I open a new browser and now I’m back to my profile instead of the profile I was managing… why? Why can’t this work more like Facebook? That would be SO much easier.

But OK, I’ll do it for a while and play the game / jump through the hoops. We’ll see if it makes a difference or not but it’s just a pain in the ass. I’m always hated bowing to Google and Bing is actually more friendly to everyone, so if more people used Bing, it would be really great. :-)

-T

GoDaddy Still Clunky to Use

After all the cha-ching they’ve dropped into Super Bowl commercials, I’m really surprised that the GoDaddy.com website is still as clunky as ever. Here’s my review back in 2009:

The Award for the Clunkiest Website Goes To…

Not much has changed.

  • You’re still not sure if you’re really logged in or not. It say “Hi, Tony” but then I try to do something and I find out I’m not logged in.
  • After I login, I have to click again to get into my account. So, did I really login or not? Oh, that’s right, you’re trying to make me click as many times as possible to get anywhere… stupid me.
  • When I do get logged in and then switch to doing something else, like look for files or website settings or whatever, I come back and I have to login again since they have the quickest user session timeout I’ve ever seen.
  • When you navigate through you’re account, you switched to at least 4-5 different kind of screen setups. It’s like they cobbled together a bunch of systems. When you go and edit one thing, there’s no way to get back, so you have to go back about 3 steps.

Maybe they’re using the same company that made HealthCare.gov or something… not that I’ve been there and tried that site (no way). I hope I never have to; it sounds bad.

My advice here is to maybe not run one of your Super Bowl ads (just scale back one of them) and put it into the development of your website instead. Just start over at this point.

And I’ve got a client that needs to move to SSL hosting. We’ll see if they still have to take down his website for 2 days to make that happen (beyond clunky and beyond acceptable in my opinion).

-Tony

WordPress Limitations

I have a number of WordPress websites and ran into a problem at Hostgator since I have a website with a large amount of posts. Here’s what they sent me, which is interesting (I had to fix a little bit of their English):

As MySQL will begin to see performance problems when working with tables which contain over 100,000 rows, we suggest the optimization of the affected databases via the removal of out of date or non critical data from the affected tables or via the addition of indexes in order to help reduce the overall number of rows that must be read when querying the affected tables.

In addition, WordPress starts becoming inefficient at handling the number of posts somewhere between 1500 and 2500 posts and at over about 5000-6000 comments, give or take a little depending on plugin configuration. Once those numbers are doubled, it becomes exceedingly inefficient, performing very poorly and using a lot of CPU resources to process the results coming back from MySQL.

In looking through your WordPress site, you are exceeding those numbers, and this has resulted in increased CPU load, which has contributed to the high resource usage of your site. As such, we would also suggest pruning out of date or non critical posts and comments as well as the affected script is currently seen to contain 6,583 posts and 15,166 comments.

What they want me to do is prune database tables that are too large.

And then here’s some more useful information that I found:

High Traffic Tips For WordPress (codex.wordpress.org)

Like any other web application, WordPress is only able to handle as much traffic as the hardware which runs it can support.

There are two main barriers that can prevent your site from functioning under a high volume of traffic:

Processor Limitations
Network Limitations

[...]

MySQL connection rates can be improved by either adjusting MySQL settings, or providing more memory and processing power to the overworked server. Additionally, using query caching and proper indexing can help to improve MySQL performance. There is no single solution for every case, as all sites operate differently.

With a few maintenance tasks, you can clean up WordPress a bit to make it run more efficiently. This page has some resources that are good. One to look at here is “Remove WordPress Post Revisions from the Database” since that will bring down the size of the database. This will also help with the size of your backups, too:

Stupid WordPress Tricks (perishablepress.com)

And then this plugin seems to be rated pretty high, so I’m going to try it:

WPDBSpringClean (wordpress.org)

The WPDBSpringClean plugin identifies unused, WordPress DB tables which have been left over from old plugins you have uninstalled on your site and it then gives you the option of deleting these tables.

Due to regular insertions and deletions in the various DB tables on your system, these tables can quite often hold allocated but unused space. Consequently this can make your DB tables inefficient, fragmented and unoptimized. This plugin will identify unoptimized tables and will allow you to optimize them by deleting the allocated unused space within a particular table. The plugin also optionally allows you to specify search criteria such as the minimum amount of overhead per table and minimum unused space for a table.

If I find more things that help, I’ll post them here. If anyone has some good tips, please post them in the comments.

-Tony

Maybe People Will Appreciate Good Website Design Now

healthcare-gov

As the healthcare.gov website launches and has tons of glitches, you have to wonder if people will start to appreciate us good website designers that are out there, who do testing and all the little things that go into website design. Something I’ve never seen is standing in line on a website. That has to be a first and only the U.S. Government would come up with something like that.

President Obama: Expect months of ‘glitches’ (www.politico.com)

Website Design is Easy, Right?

There’s this perception out there that website design is easy. You see these commercials on TV that show a mouse just dragging and dropping things here and there and then it’s done. No, it’s not that easy – let’s make that absolutely clear.

For good website design, you need planning – which involves meetings, outlines, wire frames, designs, responsive designs and so on. After that’s all planned out, you can start on the actual work. As the work is being done and near completion, you have to do testing. You have to test your website on all the different web browsers out there – sometimes even the latest 2 versions of each browser (and Internet Explorer is the worst offender) as well as mobile devices so that everything works right. That’s no easy task.

There’s not only glitch testing but there’s usability testing, too. You might be doing split testing where some website visitors see one version of a page and other people see a different version. There might be a slight change and you have to see which one works better. Once that is done, you do another change. Eventually, you get a final product that performs well.

Website Design is Cheap, Right?

It can be. Just remember, you get what you pay for. If you order cheap website design, you’ll get cheap website design.

For $100, I could make you an ugly, one page website. It might take me 15-30 minutes. I don’t do that, though. I don’t think people want an ugly, one page website. That’s why I don’t do that. Their expectations are higher and my standards are higher, too.

If you want it done right and if you want your website to look right and make the best first impression possible of your company or brand, then no, it’s not cheap. No way.

Conclusion

As you go through the health care website, just think of all that goes into it and see what they haven’t done or tested. Do you complete most of it and get kicked back to the home page, losing all your progress and stuff like that? Well, that’s because it wasn’t done right. To do it right isn’t easy.

-Tony

Get on the “Front Page” of Google?

I just got some lovely spam email and one message I noticed them saying that they can help get a website of mine on the front page of Google. Hmm…

Google-front-page-2I don’t think they can promise that as Google doesn’t really put any links to other websites on their front page. Duh.

So you’re calling the first page or results the “front page of Google.” No, I don’t think I’ll be trusting you to handle SEO for me, sorry!

-Tony