How-To

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What is a CDN and why does your website need it

Both as a web designer, and as a user of the internet, you know that a fast website is a good websiteSpeed of a website is something which you don’t notice, until it’s missing that is.

Then it becomes frustrating. A bad user experience. A reason for bouncing off a website never to return.

If you want visitors to enjoy their experience on your website, you don’t need to think only about the design of the website, but how fast the website performs for ALL of your users!

Because good design is only one part of a good user experience.

After best website design company, the speed of page-loading is one of the most important factors which contribute to the success of a website. Besides that, it’s also a ranking factor.

Why is speed so important?

The necessity of having a fast website is a factor has been studied time and time again.

A negative experience is created in the mind of the user who is perceiving a site as being slow. A site’s conversion rate is also affected very negatively by slow performing websites.

Have a look at the graph below by research firm Soasta

Loading time vs conversion rate

Loading time vs conversion rate study

 

As can be clearly seen from the graph above, as load time of a page increases, the conversion rate drops drastically. The best conversion rates actually happen when pages take less than 3 seconds to load. Unfortunately, very few websites are actually able to provide such a fast user experience.

Is your website one of these slow-loading sites? Are you killing conversions and are not even aware of it?

But there are solutions which can help boost your website’s speed.

 

What is a CDN?

The term CDN is an acronym which means content delivery network. That is a fancy way of saying, a network of servers which are optimized to deliver the content (of your website) in the most optimal way.

But how does this content delivery network provide benefits to my website and how does it make the website load faster?

The CDN’s network of servers is an infrastructure which is designed to handle the load of traffic of a website better than that of generic hosting services.

Hosting services, especially the ones aimed at generic websites are geared at creating a stable but generic environment, at a low cost to both the hosting service and the client. These websites typically run on generic environments, such as Apache, PHP, MySQL and other stacks of popular hosting frameworks.

However, the environment has not been specifically optimized and tuned for website speed. Shared hosting services are typically quite slow, particularly in their initial response. The fact that each environment is hosting multiple websites simultaneously means that they suffer from a resource bottleneck problem. Essentially, each website is hosted on the same server as many others, they are “sharing” the same resources. But while the term used is sharing, in reality, they are competing for the same resources. To keep costs low, this sharing creates a situation where each request sent to a website has to wait before it can be served.

Have a look at the below. One of my websites, which is aimed primarily for ecommerce (dronesbuy.net) is hosted on a shared hosting environment, without a CDN.

Have a look at the following waterfall graph:

Load time without CDN

Load time without CDN

 

Can you see the waiting time above of 1.26 seconds?

This is the time it is taking for the server to start “working” on the request sent to it. Essentially, at this point, my website is queued up, competing for resources with other sites hosted on the same server as mine.

This is an implicit delay in created by using a shared website hosting service

Bear in mind, that this delay is before the server event starts to send any kind of content back to the user.

With a delay of 1.26 seconds, you can forget having a page-speed load time of less than 3 seconds.

This is a problem. So how do we go about solving this problem?

On the other hand, a CDN’s primary function is to make websites load fast. Their actual infrastructure setup is designed such that they help deliver a lightning fast website.

But how does a CDN actually speed up my site?

 

How a CDN speeds up your site

There are a few reasons why a website can load slowly:

  1. the shared hosting server has a lot of websites (to keep the price cheap) and is thus overwhelmed. The response times are therefore slow.
  2. Images and other large content of the are not optimized and take a lot of time to download.
  3. The website has installed many different WordPress plugins which are generating many CSS and JS files and other resources
  4. The hosting server is located geographically far away from the actual visitors of your website (think website hosted in the US, with readers mostly in Europe)

There are other reasons, but these are the main ones which generate the largest loading time hits.

You can take mitigating steps to fix each of the above-noted problems individually, but we’ll focus mostly on the last two in this article.

Your shared hosting is overwhelmed and slow

Shared hosting servers are by their definition – slow, especially if they are cheap. It’s just the economics of it.

When a hosting company rents or buys a server, they need to share that cost with their clients.

Put simply, and for the sake of example, if your server costs $100/month and you want to price your plan at $10/month, you need to host 10 accounts to break even.

If you want to price your plan at $5/month, you need to host 20 accounts to break even.

You get the gist. The cheaper the plan, the more the accounts you’ll need to host on the same server.

If a hosting service is advertising itself as cheap, and you want your website to be fast – run a mile!

So what happens, on shared servers, each time somebody visits your website, the server is (at the same time) handling the websites of all of the other users / accounts on that same server.  

With shared hosting, it can take more than a whole second to even start working on delivering your website’s contents.

You can clearly see that delay on the screenshot above.

VPS vs Shared hosting environment

VPS vs Shared hosting environment

 

If you want to make a website fast, this delay of one second in response time is creating a serious issue for you.

Here are our first recommendations

  1. If your website is using WordPress as the CMS, choose from the best WordPress hosting companies, the ones with known good service and great reviews. Stay away from cheap hosts.
  2. Going for the highest plan you can afford, a Virtual Private Server is a good balance between a (cheap but slow) shared hosting site and a dedicated server (fast but expensive). With a VPS, your site will have plenty of resources to deal with the load and respond within a few milliseconds, rather than a whole second.

 

The images of your site are not optimized

Images are one of the primary reasons why websites can be slow to load. 

It’s always great advice to use images in your articles. They help to create a break in large pieces of text. Images are also great for readability.

“An image is worth a thousand words” or so they say.

But images can also create problems.

Primarily, images which are not optimized for speed can have a serious negative effect on the loading time of a website.

It’s actually quite a laborious process to remember to save each file in a speed-friendly format, and compressing them to a size which is small enough but which does not lose any of the quality of the image.

Besides being labor-intensive, some people are simply not aware of the need to optimize images.

So what’s the solution to this problem? We need to find a method which will automatically optimize images.

Here’s where a CDN comes to the rescue. CDNs are designed to address this problem without requiring any manual intervention

This is because image optimization (including lossless compression) is typically a built-in feature of most CDNs

That means you don’t have to worry about the images. While you handle the design and creation of a website with awesome imagery, the Content Delivery Network will automatically compress and optimize the images.

 

The website is using a lot of scripts

This is another factor which has a bad effect on the speed of a website.

Almost all plugins which are installed on a website have an impact on the loading time of your website – each plugin adds more and more assets to the site, making it slower and slower.

Each plugin which is used to create a specific piece of functionality is also slowing down the site.

Some plugins create more JS files, CSS files, and other assets, so some are worse than others, but all of them have at least a bit of an effect. The fewer plugins you install – the better. This is a golden rule.

Each plugin also adds overhead in the form of requests.

Have a look at the following screenshot from a site which has not been optimized for speed. You can see that the performance scores are very slow, whilst the fully loaded time is horrendous.

Slow loading time due to many requests

Slow loading time due to many requests

 

Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate these problems:

  1. Install as little plugins as possible on any website
  2. Combine the files created by all the plugins into a few files only
  3. Enable HTTPS and then HTTP/2 on your website for better overall loading times

Once again, a CDN can help with the combining the files into fewer files and delivering that content over HTTP2.

The CDN actually performs compression and minification of JS and CSS files; this makes the overall size of your site’s resources smaller and therefore, faster to load.

Setting up of HTTP/2 in also highly recommended. HTTP2 is something which is a whole topic of its own so we’ll recommend a couple of great articles on WebDesignerDepot and on CollectiveRay blog which we’ve already written.

HTTP/2 has been created specifically to make improvements in the loading time of websites. It is designed to address certain shortcomings which older technologies did not deal with.

CDN services typically can enable HTTP/2 on your website, simply through the flick of a switch. HTTP/2 requires that HTTPS has been enabled on your site. Once again, CDNs typically have built-in support to serve content over HTTPS. Thanks to the CDN, you can enable HTTPS without incurring the cost and complication which is associated with secure website certificates. A CDN is also able to improve the overhead associated with the SSL/TLS handshake (which is a heavy operation). This ensures that even with HTTPS enabled – the site incurs no overhead.

There’s still one problem which we haven’t addressed which can slow down the loading speed of your website.

What is it and how can we fix it?

 

The geographical location of your website server

There is one thing which can negatively your website’s loading speed, even after you’ve performed all sorts of speed optimizations mentioned above.

Have a look at the following diagram.

Hosting server location vs visitor location

Hosting server location vs visitor location

 

This shows the typical time it takes for web data to travel from the one side of the Atlantic to the other. You can see that loading a website hosted on a different continent that your website is visiting from, is a problem. If your website is hosted in the continental US, any visitor outside of the US will experience this problem.

Of course, this applies all over the world. It can even happen within continents if the visitor is located far away from the hosting server.

The distance your website’s content has to travel has a direct (and negative) effect on how fast your website loads.

If your website has a localized audience, choose a good hosting service which is physically close to your target audience. If you are targeting users in New York, choose to host your website on a good server in New York.

However, what do you do if your website caters to an international audience?

You can’t choose a server which is located close to the visitors of your website.

However, there is a solution. As you might have guessed, the solution involves a CDN, because a CDN service specifically addresses this problem.

Let’s see an updated version of the previous diagram, this time we see how the loading time is affected if we use the services of a CDN such as Incapsula CDN, one of the largest players in the CDN industry.

Without CDN vs with CDN

Without CDN vs with CDN

 

Just like we discussed at the beginning of this article, a CDN service is designed to shorten the distance that content has to travel to reach the visitors of a website.

A CDN service is set up by creating a network of hundreds of servers in different locations in multiple countries and geographies. These servers, known as caching servers or edge servers, each contain a local copy of the images and files which your website needs serve.

When a user accesses your website, these files are served from the nearest physical to your visitor.

This reduces the problem of distance and makes a website much faster to load compared to if a website was not using a CDN.

Have a look the following diagram, which shows the geographical distribution of caching servers around the world – making it possible to always serve content from a location which is physically close to your visitor.

CDN global server map

CDN global server map

 

How to set up a CDN for free

The great thing about CDN services is that they operate on a freemium model – typically they offer a free plan. This free plan provides the localized caching functionality we have shown above.

If your website grows beyond the limits of the free plan, you can then move to a higher plan which suits the needs of your website better.

The easiest way to implement a CDN does not even need a plugin, it’s done by what is knows as a reverse proxy.

This only requires you to perform some changes to the DNS settings of your domain. You’ll find exact guidance for most hosts from the CDN you will opt for, or you can ask for support from the CDN’s support staff.

You can see below how your website together will work together with the CDN to send content to visitors. The origin server is your website’s server.

CDN setup using proxy server

CDN setup using proxy server

The CDN server actually receives the hit when a user visits your website. It then sends the request to your site, such that any necessary dynamic content is generated. Once it gets a response, the CDN sends the dynamic content and all static resources to the visitor.

This removes a lot of load from your hosting server – making your website load faster and able to handle much more visitors simultaneously.

 

Conclusion – are you ready to make your website faster?

As we’ve seen in this article, setting up a CDN can start from the very cheap price of free! Besides not having to spend anything, the loading speed of your website will be much-improved giving your site’s visitors a better user experience for your visitors.

 

If you’re looking to have a fast website, a CDN is a must.

 

Read More at What is a CDN and why does your website need it

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20 Graphic Design Tutorials You Have To Watch To Improve Your Ski…

20 Graphic Design Tutorials You Have To Watch To Improve Your Ski...

A good designer is constantly learning new tricks on how to apply different effects to a photo or built a form from scratch. Some of you may search for various tutorials just to improve your skills, or maybe you need to know some specific technique for your current project.

In any case, on this list, we have handpicked 20 latest graphic design tutorials to take your skills to a whole new level.

Here you’ll see Photoshop and Illustrator tutorials on how to create a movie poster from an image, apply endless photo effect, create geometric pattern and text effect, build a retro logo, and much more.

1. Create an Action Packed Movie Poster in Photoshop

create-an-action-packed-movie-poster-in-photoshop

2. Create a Mini Planet Using Photoshop’s 3D Capabilities

create-a-mini-planet-using-photoshop's-3d-capabilities

3. How to Create a Steampunk Type Treatment in Photoshop

how-to-create-a-steampunk-type-treatment-in-photoshop

4. Create an abstract liquid effect

create-an-abstract-liquid-effect

5. Create a Studio Sports Portrait

create-a-studio-sports-portrait

6. Create a Powerful Human Disintegration Effect in Photoshop

create-a-powerful-human-disintegration-effect-in-photoshop

7. How to Create an Endless Picture Within a Picture Illusion in Adobe Photoshop

how-to-create-an-endless-picture-within-a-picture-illusion-in-adobe-photoshop

8. How To Create a Geometric Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

how-to-create-a-geometric-pattern-in-adobe-illustrator

9. How To Create Digital Particle Waves in Adobe Illustrator

how-to-create-digital-particle-waves-in-adobe-illustrator

10. How to design graphic figures

how-to-design-graphic-figures

11. How To Create an Editable Retro Text Style in Illustrator

how-to-create-an-editable-retro-text-style-in-illustrator

12. How to Create a Quick & Easy Duotone Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

how-to-create-a-quick-easy-duotone-text-effect-in-adobe-photoshop

13. How To Create a Vintage Film Title Text Effect in Photoshop

how-to-create-a-vintage-film-title-text-effect-in-photoshop

14. Create mixed inks with InDesign

create-mixed-inks-with-indesign

15. How to design a typographical poster using Adobe InDesign

how-to-design-a-typographical-poster-using-adobe-indesign

16. Create special print finishes in InDesign

create-special-print-finishes-in-indesign

17. How to create a retro logo with Affinity Designer

how-to-create-a-retro-logo-with-affinity-designer

18. Mock up AR graphics with After Effects

mock-up-graphics-with-after-effects

19. How to Draw a Colorful, Fun, Vector Vampire in Adobe Illustrator

how-to-draw-a-colorful-fun-vector-vampire-in-adobe-illustrator

20. Create a Painted Portrait Effect in Illustrator Using the Bristle Brush

create-a-painted-portrait-effect-in-illustrator-using-the-bristle-brush

Read More at 20 Graphic Design Tutorials to Improve Your Skills

Dear Engineering Students, Here's How you Land Your Next Eng...

Dear Engineering Students, Here's How you Land Your Next Eng…

The Telecom Industry is a fast progressive field, where the Graduates, especially Engineers can work with fast-evolving technology. The Telecommunications Engineers are the experts, who actually are from Electrical and Electronics department and specialize in various technologies related to telecommunications.

With the Mobile technology progressing at unprecedented speed, the need of engineers for carrying out various jobs is also on the rise. Getting accustomed to the technology and the specialized in certain field areas like Networks and broadband is the need of today.It’s the high time when you must know how to find jobs in the telecom industry and how the latest technology is helping the job seekers in their search for jobs.

In this article, we will focus on how to land your next engineering job:

 

Getting an entry into the telecom industry

A few years back, there was a scenario, when getting into the telecom industry was a little complicated as compared today. Today, with the advent of new technologies and with the evolution of several platforms, offering the jobs, especially in the field of telecom, the hard task of getting entry has become easy.

Requirements variation

The entry requirement varies Pan India, depending upon the entry levels, positions & experience and the company you are applying in. You must remember that the work experience is useful, but also never an essential requirement.

 

Trends of telecom industry

The trend of the telecom industry is fast changing. As the technology is fast progressing, the big trend in the Information technology, which is the virtualization as highly seen in cloud computing is the face of change.

The engineers are getting hired in bulk numbers for the purpose. The hiring is now, being done either through recruitment drive, through job portals or direct application to the company.

 

Changing face of Telecom

The working in telecoms has also gained a new face in the past few years. The role, which was largely based as the field engineer, has turned more into office based. There are now even possibilities of traveling abroad and also you can work at home.

Now, the mobility is usually not a requirement. The focus of the telecom has changed since the installation of the towers to the teamwork, designing and developing new products, testing of those products and setting up infrastructure and supporting and satisfying customers. Also, we have seen that over the years, this sector has grown itself to the recession-proof.

 

Finding jobs in telecom sector

The hard task of finding jobs in the telecom sector is now an easy one. Now, with the availability of several job portals, recruitment drives, several social media platforms, online notifications of jobs have become the favor the country among the pass out engineers.

Lending jobs in the sector have become too easy, with several companies eager to provide the required training to the candidates seeking the telecom jobs. There is no dearth of the platform in the form of Linkedin, Field Engineer etc., which are paving the quick and easy way for the engineers to get a job in the Telecom sector.

Short term skill training in specific job roles is the way to meet the demand at any point in time. With the resources of the company gaining an expansion, they are not afraid to bridge the gap between the skills required by the company and already posed skills of the candidates.

 

Field Engineer – A trendsetter in Telecom sector

Dear Engineering Students, Here's How you Land Your Next Eng...

Field Engineer is an online resource for connecting field engineers and the businesses/companies, which hire them has unleashed a new era in the field of telecom. Providing a powerful platform for businesses and the job seekers, the company is involved in the process of interviewing, vetting, hiring and paying and thus offers a platform, indispensable to the field of the telecom industry.

Offering a revolutionary platform meant just for the telecom industry, Field Engineer has revolutionized the telecom world by providing the works to the work seekers for the telecom field engineers, who are constantly, looking to gain experience work wise and connect with the business all over the world.

With the focus of the company to connect the engineers and telecoms every day, it does not matter where you are in the world. You can be anywhere and still can remain connected. With Field Engineer, you can easily handle the remote jobs with much ease through the robust and easy to use platform

Field Engineer – A Platform for all

Dear Engineering Students, Here's How you Land Your Next Eng...

With the company focusing on the telecom engineers, the platform is great especially for Technicians, Network Engineers and Architects, Project Engineers, Security Engineers, Voice Engineers, Wireless Engineers, Data Center Engineers and VMware Engineers.

With the availability of the Field Engineer at apps, both at IOS and Android, the company offers a completely flexible approach towards the better connection of the field engineers and the companies involved in the business. Fairly straightforward platform and easy to use, along with the secure payment services, the employees, and employers, both are benefiting from such an initiative, one of a kind in the world.

The Field Engineer is focused on providing a well-built platform to the technical talents to go ahead in the future and have a direct access to the work. With the rising digital aspects, the company is focused on providing the best platform to tap into the best talents from all around the world and make this world, a really small place to work, where talents meet the destination, it should be.

As telecom veterans, the company is focused on harnessing the best talents and providing them a platform, where they can showcase the skills and talents & can earn a handsome salary for themselves and can connect with the companies of the world and thus can expand their wings.

Thus, providing the streamlined platform, the Field Engineer is, in fact, a revolutionary step in the telecom industry and can inspire towards a better future ahead in the telecommunications industry!

Read More at Dear Engineering Students, Here’s How you Land Your Next Engineering Job 

6 Proven (and Inexpensive) Marketing Ways for Promoting Your Dent...

6 Proven (and Inexpensive) Marketing Ways for Promoting Your Dent…

The old saying, “Marketing is the way to success”, holds the same significance today and will continue inspiring people in the future.

The key to business development is hands down, marketing. Whether it is your service or the product, marketing holds the cards to success.

The same holds true for Dental Services. With the Dental Profession growing with each passing day, the competition is practically at its peak every day and the need to better market yourself and your services is necessary, now.

Dental services are no exception. In order to attract people towards your dental services, you need to have some proven and inexpensive marketing ways, that can keep your competitors at bay.

In this SEO course, you’ll find 6 proven and affordable marketing ways that can help you in promoting your dental services.

Before you try these techniques, I would recommend you check out this article about dental SEO dangers which might jeopardize your website’s ranking.

1. Implement Social Media Platforms In Your Marketing

 

Social Media platforms play a key role in marketing strategies nowadays. Since social media is the most interactive and genuine way to connect with the people all around, the chances of gaining popularity are very likely with a super small amount of effort.

Grab this opportunity and utilize the power of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and Instagram to connect with people and offer your services to them.

Offer them instant solutions to their inquiries and be ultra quick in responding them.

2. Utilize The Power of Your Website

 

Your website’s presence gives you an edge over your competitors. Your website is the first step towards your branding and offers you a face in the urban jungle. These days, with the advent of newer technology and with the evolution of several CMS, the requirement of the website gets fulfilled within the budget and offers you a chance to have a well-shaped profession in front of your customers.

The Dental Marketing Guy put it best here:

“Most dentists think they have a “website.” But what most dentists actually have isn’t part of a “web” at all! It’s just a “site.” The “web” part of the World Wide Web is a complex form of linking many relevant websites to one another. If your website isn’t getting linked to, you’re not part of that “web.”

Be professional while designing the website and keep important pages, like about you and your skills, patients’ list (keeping in mind, the nondisclosure record of theirs), a way to contact, review section by patients and other such.

3. Use the power of SEO Techniques

 

After you get a website of yours own, the next step towards your success is SEO. SEO is the only way that can guide your website towards the top of the SERP within a budget.

SEO is, however, a slow (and long-term) process, which can take around 3 months to reflect best results for you, but still, the results are long lasting and are affordable.

Invisalinks Method is a proven way to optimize your dental services. SEO Technique offers a genuine chance to beat out your competitors and allow you to grab the most important customers looking for the dental services in your region of services like California, LA, or NY etc.

4. Patient Referral Bonus System

 

The Patient Referral Bonus System is the next step towards expanding your influence in the local market. Acting in combination of digital method and traditional mouth to mouth. It can be very useful in getting new customers through existing ones.

The Patient Referral Bonus System acts as the incentive for people, who are already your patients and offers them a reason (a mouth watering reason) to refer your name to others in case of need of dental services.

Dr. Farr from CK Farr Dentistry revealed that their practice has thrived all these years because of wonderful people (their patients) referring all their friends and family.

“Many dental professionals have been told by SEO companies that you must have keywords in your domain name. Dr. Farr in Atascadero, CA has the domain name http://www.ckfarr.com/ and it stands for “CK Farr Dentistry.” Dr. Farr’s website also doesn’t have a great deal of keywords in the content of the website, which goes against the conventional SEO approach of “more keywords is better” that many SEO companies still purport. The fact is, Dr. Farr build his website with a very clean, photography-based appearance and didn’t just create content for SEO. This allows his website to have an emotional impact through video and photography that most SEO-fixated dentists can’t hack. The secret? Dr. Farr started getting cited and linked to from top level dental websites, such as Dental Town and Dentistry IQ. These links allow Dr. Farr to focus on what he does best – Dentistry.”

Reward your existing patients with some discounts and offers, in case they bring in some new faces to your clinic. ‘Use your existing customers to get new ones’ is the simple logic behind this system.

5. Email Marketing

 

Email marketing is still an option for the business’ exposure to people around you. It is a direct & simple way to communicate with your patients. Email marketing is one of the most trusted & popular online marketing channel available to you.

With the proper database and a well-researched database (with the concentration paid to your region, only), you can adopt this technique with ease and with better-delivering results to expand your business.

All you need is to get a list of emails from the people belonging to your region of services. Email marketing is one of the ways to better expose your business and inform people about your existence.

6. Join Community Profiles

 

Whatever region you live in or work in, there are always some local forum/ online discussion platforms, where you can get yourself registered, and can offer valuable information to the society. The beneficial part concerning you is the same ‘exposure’.

With you getting an exposure in front of the people while connecting with them, offers you a chance to have an increased business and more popularity.

Online Communities are one of the cheapest ways to connect with the people and build relationships.

Build your online presence with community profiles, available quite easily. Remember, you need to be helpful and must imbibe in a contributing attitude within you to gain popularity.

Your dental business depends upon the number of people who know you. Allot some time in making yourself a name amongst the people and offer them the best services and an affordable ones!

Be open to suggestions from people, read the reviews of your patients and develop and customize accordingly.

Read More at 6 Proven (and Inexpensive) Marketing Ways for Promoting Your Dental Services