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How to Employ Cloud Tools to Improve Web-based Performance

By   /  October 2, 2018  /  No Comments

Cloud Tools

 

Click to learn more about author Gilad David Maayan.

The performance and speed of your website is an important factor that contributes to the amount of traffic it generates. On an average, a few seconds delay in load time leads to:

 

  • 11% fewer page views
  • 16% fall in user satisfaction
  • 7% decrease in conversions

If your website takes a few extra seconds to load, it can have a great impact on your ability to engage with your visitors and generate sales and revenue. Therefore, it goes without saying, maintaining a fast and efficient website will help you not only to rank well within Google but also improve the overall performance and save your customer’s bandwidth. Media files play a very crucial role in improving the performance because more than half of a webpage’s size can be attributed to the media resources.

In this article, we’ll discuss a few pointers that will help you improve the performance of your website.

Host Images in the Cloud

Hosting your video and image files in the Cloud has a number of benefits that are hard to come by when using a dedicated or shared hardware. One of the reasons that a lot of webmasters prefer to use Cloud hosting for handling media files is that it offers flexibility, scalability and lets you manipulate the media files dynamically.

Irrespective of whether you are hosting a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system, or a video live streaming platform, Cloud hosting can help you return the best possible format for a particular user based on their bandwidth dynamically. For instance, if a device that’s live streaming an HD video faces network issues, the device could request for a data-friendly version to the Cloud. Most Cloud vendors automatically transform the original media file and maintain different versions of it in the Cloud using techniques such as real-time video transcoding and image manipulation.

Hosting images in the Cloud can help you improve the bounce rate of your website. The Cloud ensures that your media isn’t the factor affecting the page loading time and that the performance is faster. Whether you are streaming videos in 320p or 1080p, you will no longer have to sacrifice load time to playback your media.

Another important factor why everyone loves Cloud is the backup facility they offer. If your video or audio content goes missing, it is downright difficult and sometimes impossible to recover. Using Cloud hosting services, routine backups can be saved directly on the Cloud rather than on physical memory hardware. Needless to say, this saves you from investing in external hard drives and memory banks.

Host Videos on Video Streaming Platforms

There are many video-streaming platforms around such as Youtube, Vimeo and DailyMotion that you can use to host video content.The streaming of media via a Youtube, for instance, allows for automatic encoding. This allows your media to play on almost all types of devices. You are free from the need to rely on additional software to have your video and audio files transcoded. It also supports most of the popular media types including MP4, MPG, MP3, FLV, AVI, etc.

You can then embed the video into your webpage using the default Youtube video player or a third-party HTML5 video player. There’s a chance that your video might reach a larger audience since it’s published on Youtube. You can always expect the videos hosted on these video streaming sites to be available 24×7 without any down time. Apart from that, they also offer great options in terms of monetization.

Deploy Static Assets on a CDN

Static files essentially refer to static resources used by your websites such as JavaScript files, fonts, media files or style sheets. It is imperative to understand that such files need to be compressed in order for them to be aligned to HTTP/2 and can, therefore, be used when they need to be served. In the off chance that your managed hosting provider excludes the HTTP/2 functionality, or moves any unmanaged VPS to HTTP/2, your next option is to implement CDN into your stack.

Using CDN provides the benefit of efficiently serving static files acquired from different data centers that are located geographically closest to your users. This avoids latency most of the time.

Talking about media files, it is always a good idea to compress or encode any media files in an attempt to minimize the file size while, at the same time, attempting to serve them via video playback service provides like DailyMotion, Vimeo or Youtube. The benefit here is that this assists in reducing the strain on your servers. Alternatively, you can also use Amazon S3 and similar Cloud storage providers which often prove to be a smart option.

Here is a good reference guide to help you with batch processing JPG and PNG image files.

Avoid Bulky Themes for your WordPress Website

It is a well-known fact that WordPress themes that contain a lot of media content and custom post fields tend to slow down the database queries of a WordPress site. Although a vast number of visually captivating WordPress themes exist, what may look great, may not be as efficiently coded in the backend which can inhibit your site’s load time.

Therefore, it is usually preferable to go with a theme that is simple, uses only a specific list of high-quality plugins which are designed to implement and accentuate specific features of your website that you require. This is indeed a better option than opting for a bloated theme with multiple plugins which create a complicated layout, unnecessary animations and superficial bells and whistles that may not actually be needed.

Our advice here is to go in search for high quality, often premium themes, that can provide your WordPress site with the libraries it needs. Some examples include StudioPress, Array Themes, Themify, etc. These provide the developer with well-coded themes that are optimized for efficiency and speed.

Optimize and Compress Media Files to Save Bandwidth

There can be times when an unexpected number of visitors your site can eat into your monthly bandwidth. This is definitely something that you don’t want to have. To help overcome these problems, you can choose to optimize your site in an effort to keep it online and publicly accessible for as much time as possible.

Here are some tips that can help you with this effort:

  • Compression: As the name suggests, compressions reduces the size of the file. The smaller the size of the file, the lesser the upload/download speed. There are two ways you can achieve this –
    1. Lossless: This does not reduce the impact the quality of the original file. In the rare chance of a loss in information, the viewer is not faced with any noticeable loss of visual quality
    2. Lossy: This refers to a reduction in quality in order to achieve a reduced file size. In this case, the media file loses a considerable amount of information.
  • Encoding: Encoding a video is a process whereby you format a file for a specific output. The encoding process takes care of the compression. It also allows you add filters, chapters, subtitles and various other meta specifics to the media during the encoding process.
  • Transcoding: The method of changing a particular form of digital encoding into another is known as encoding. In most cases, this involves the lossy compression method.

Conclusion

To conclude, the important point to remember is that for every media file you use, there is always a nice balance between a low file size and high video/image quality. Although it might be difficult to find the right balance initially, a little experimentation should be able to do it.

The key aspect is to be able to provide your consumers with a high-quality video without using too much of their bandwidth forcing them to pay for extra costs. You can play around with different encoding settings, bit rates, and resolutions to see how they affect the quality of your media file.

About the author

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Oracle, Zend, CheckPoint and Ixia, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Gilad is a 3-time winner of international technical communication awards, including the STC Trans-European Merit Award and the STC Silicon Valley Award of Excellence. Over the past two decades he has written over 70 technical books, white papers and guides spanning over 5,000 pages, in numerous technology sectors from network equipment to CRM software to chip manufacturing. Over the past 7 years Gilad has headed Agile SEO, which performs strategic search marketing for leading technology brands. Together with his team, Gilad has done market research, developer relations and content strategy in 39 technology markets, lending him a broad perspective on trends, approaches and ecosystems across the tech industry. Gilad holds a B.Sc. in Economics from Tel Aviv University, and has a keen interest in psychology, Jewish spirituality, practical philosophy and their connection to business, innovation and technology. Follow Gilad and Agile SEO at: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+

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