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10 Ways to Build a Faster Website

10 Ways to Build a Faster Website

Every second that it takes for your website to load reduces your conversion ratio by 7 percent. Even if you aren’t selling something, you still risk losing a large percentage of your visitors to a website that suffers from lag time. Fortunately, there are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that your site loads quickly enough to avoid a high bounce rate. The following lists the ways to build a faster website.

1. Create a mobile-friendly design.

Although surveys have shown that people are slightly more patient when browsing the Internet via a mobile device, you will still lose approximately 51 percent of your visitors if your website takes more than 10 seconds to load. To put this into comparison, 40 percent of online shoppers will abandon a site that is not fully loaded on their laptop within three seconds.

Statistics have shown that utilizing a mobile-friendly design that loads within five seconds and is easy to navigate from a smartphone or tablet can dramatically improve your conversion ratio. In fact, 97 percent of mobile users are happy to wait up to five seconds, and this is a realistic load time for a well-designed site. Keep in mind that websites that are not mobile-friendly can often take an exorbitant amount of time to load, and they are less likely to be easily navigated by the average Internet user.

2. Consider a minimalist approach.

Minimalism is a design concept that embraces the adage of less being more. When a website uses the minimalist design, it typically has a small amount of images, a lot of blank space and eye-catching fonts and colors. Even the most basic black and white color scheme can be visually stunning when put together the right way, and this will make it possible for your website to load rapidly on any device.

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3. Use a CDN to reduce lag time and bandwidth consumption.

Content delivery networks (CDN) have one primary purpose: to reduce lag time. Additionally, using a CDN will reduce bandwidth consumption on your web hosting infrastructure, thus improving access and saving you from excess cost. A content delivery network will cache content, including images, videos, HTML files, stylesheets and scripts on a distributed set of servers around the globe.

More advanced CDNs provide intelligent caching for items such as dynamically-generated objects, which are generated anew for each visit. This includes all of the content that would otherwise be uncachable on websites managed by content management systems (CMS). This is vital for many popular CMS sites, including WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal.

In addition, nearly all CDNs will provide additional front end optimization features such as image compression, code file minification and auto gzipping. Finally, some will also offer added security features, including auto-SSL encryption, spam filtering, integrated web application firewall and DDoS protection.

It should be noted that the performance advantage of using a CDN comes from the geographic aspect. Since data is cached and served from servers in different locations around the globe, audiences from other countries will benefit from shorter latency times. Thus CDNs are especially beneficial for websites that operate on a wide scale in countries such as the US or China or those that address international audiences.

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4. Invest in bandwidth for a faster website.

The bandwidth allowance that your web hosting provider offers will dictate a limit of how much data can be transmitted to website visitors during a certain billing period. In other words, if you run out, visitors will either see an error message or experience severe lag time because your host begins throttling your usage. Investing in a scalable solution can eliminate this particular issue. For example, some hosts offer bandwidth usage that grows with your consumption needs through a pay-per-use structure. In addition, using a CDN can help reduce consumption on your main webhost.

5. Research your website hosting options to find the best one.

If you will not be self-hosting your site, it will be vital to look closely at all of your website hosting options. Some companies are able to offer faster loading times due to a distributed infrastructure. Some will offer unlimited bandwidth and space usage. However, this will not be as beneficial as expected if the hosting company also has a high downtime incidence.

The best recipe for success is finding a hosting provider that promises an uptime of 99.9 percent and has a physical presence near your main audiences. For example, if most of your audience is in the Asia Pacific region, it makes sense to host your website in a datacenter in Singapore or somewhere nearby.

6. Forego Flash.

Flash animations and graphics might look pretty, but they will dramatically slow down your loading time. Additionally, they are not read properly by search engines, and this can hurt your Google ranking. When you combine this with the shocking fact that 2.1 million Americans still use dialup and are unable to load Flash, it becomes clear that this is a design technique that you should minimize or forego altogether.

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7. Learn how to use image compression correctly.

Image compression is a popular method for speeding up websites, but if it is done incorrectly, you will be left with blurry images that turn off consumers. The first thing you need to do to avoid this problem is to determine which file type is the most suitable to fulfill your needs.

In most cases, using JPEG is ideal for photos, while using PNG is great for website elements that require transparency. When publishing photos on your website, find the right balance between quality and file size. Most content management systems can automatically resize your image into different sizes upon upload.

For web publishers, the choice is between lossless or lossy compression. Lossless compression provides the highest quality image. You can get a smaller file size with positive results by turning to a lossy compression, but this is best utilized for images that do not have a large amount of detail or color diversity. Designers prefer to stick with lossless compression for higher-quality images. However, if you have a large quantity of images, you may have to use lossy compression to achieve a faster load time.

8. Turn off auto-play music and videos.

Auto-play music and videos may look flashy and nice, but this is also one of the easiest ways to slow your load time to a crawl. Not to mention the fact that these design elements are often viewed as annoying and intrusive by Internet users. Avoid both of these problems by turning auto-play off. You can still have the music or video available, but give visitors the choice when to play videos so that these do not stream unless clicked.

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9. Utilize browser caching.

Browser caching is a faster and less expensive way to deliver content to visitors from all over the world. Google recommends this process to developers, and it can be especially helpful when someone visits your site on a regular basis. Instead of connecting directly with your server each time, the cached version is shown for whatever period of time you specify. If the visitor clicks to a new site or hits refresh, your server will be prompted to provide the latest data.

10. Optimize CSS.

Cascading Style Sheets, which are better known as CSS, offer a better method for designing the look and flow of your website. Instead of relying on HTML and images on their own, you can define formatting and styles through CSS to streamline loading times. Stylesheets are often cached by the browser, and a capable CDN will also cache the CSS for you to improve loading times. It’s a good idea to load content first before styles so that devices with slow connections or small screens can load and display the most important content first prior to formatting.

As you can see, regardless of whether you have a large online business or simply want a speedier experience from your personal website, there are numerous techniques that can dramatically reduce your load time and give you a faster website. Using these tips will enable you to offer visitors the type of performance that they expect, regardless of whether they are shopping or simply looking for new information.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

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Last Updated on June 17, 2019

40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated)

40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2019 Updated)

Over the years here at Lifehack, we’ve discussed plenty of apps that you can use to improve your overall productivity.

There are certain ones that many of our contributors and editors (past and present) have adopted over the long-term — there are always the stalwarts that stick around. But there are also new apps that crop up every day, adding more and more depth to the app category.

Some of the apps are incredibly plain and simple, while others are more robust and offer more features than you can shake a stick at. And everyone has the one they prefer.

It’s been our job (and still is our job) to keep abreast of all of the productivity-type apps out there. As a result — and as a bit of a refresher — we’ve put together a list of 40 best productivity apps for iPhone (all categorized based on their functions) to provide you with an all-in-one resource for you.

For Getting Things Done

1. OmniFocus

This app is, while pricey, considered to be one of the (if not the) most robust and full-featured productivity apps on the market.

Download it here.

    2. Forest

    Train yourself to put your phone down and stay focused on the task at hand by playing with this planting game. It’s fun and will help you achieve more.

    Download it here.

      3. Things

      Another robust choice, this app is a favorite amongst “productivityists”.[1]

      Download it here.

        4. 30/30

        Recently covered here at Lifehack

        , 30/30 is a newcomer to the game that incorporates lists and timing of tasks into an elegant and easy-to-use interface.

        Download it here.

          5. Any.Do

          A beautiful-looking app that is both easy on the eyes and your wallet.

          Download it here.

            6. PocketLife Calendar

            This calendar app is specifically designed to be stylish and super easy-to-use. You can organize your life easily with different modern features.

            Download it here.

              7. Asana

              We’ve covered Asana here at Lifehack

              , and it is being actively developed by a strong team committed to making collaborative task management a more efficient and effective experience.

              Download it here.

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                8. ToDoist

                This app keeps track of everything – from simple errands to your most important projects – so you can get it all done and enjoy more peace of mind along the way.

                Download it here.

                  9. FlowTasks

                  From the folks at MetaLab, Flow is a gorgeous collaborative task management app that is easy-to-use and incredibly functional.

                  Download it here.

                    10. Calendars 5

                    This calendar app focuses on events that help you to keep track of upcoming events and tasks easily. It has everything you need to organize, track and complete your to-dos.

                    Download it here.

                      11. Clear – Tasks, Reminders & To-Do Lists

                      A fun and innovative list-making app that relies on swiping and pinching to make things happen. Clear created a lot of buzz when it launched, and might be the perfect to-do list gateway app for many.

                      Download it here.

                        12. Due

                        A robust reminders app that lets you store and maintain reminders of all types. It’s replaced Reminders for me when it comes to the basics, and it’s worth a look if you want to keep the mundane stuff out of your head and cluttering your mind.

                        Download it here.

                          13. Checkmark 2

                          I use this app

                          for location-based reminders (such as groceries I need to get or single items I need to pick up from various locations). Checkmark is simple to use and a valuable addition to my productivity arsenal.

                          Download it here.

                            14. TeuxDeux

                            Created by Tina Roth Eisenberg and Fictive Kin — Teux Deux is simple and incredibly stellar in terms of design. If you like lists (including the popular “Someday Bucket”) and want to associate dates with tasks, then Teux Deux will be right up your alley.

                            Download it here.

                              15. Wunderlist 

                              Another incredibly popular choice is Wunderlist. Part of 6Wunderkinder’s software family, it sports a gorgeous design and is incredibly functional. We’ve talked about the app a couple of times here at Lifehack, so check those posts out here.

                              Download it here.

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                                16. Nirvana

                                For the GTD enthusiasts, there’s Nirvana. Straight from the source: “Nirvana frees your mind to focus on actually getting things done. If you’ve had enough of generic to-do lists, it’s time for Nirvana.”

                                Download it here.

                                  17. Priorities

                                  An elegant-looking task management app that has received decent reviews,[2] this could be the one for you if you’re not a fan of OmniFocus or Things — especially if you need (or want) to share tasks with others.

                                  Download it here.

                                    For Building Habits

                                    18. Productive

                                    With this app, you can plan your habits with an easy-to-use interface, schedule habits for any time of the day, set smart reminders for each time of the day and stay on track with useful feedback. This app is perfect for anyone who wants to build a habit that sticks.

                                    Download it here.

                                      19. Habitica: Gamified Taskmanager

                                      You can complete tasks and build habits in a more fun way with this app. Input your Habits, your Daily goals, and your To-Do list, and then create a custom avatar. Check off tasks to level up your avatar and unlock features such as armor, pets, skills, and even quests.

                                      Download it here.

                                        20. Streaks

                                        This app follows the model of the popular “don’t break the chain method” in that you use the app to track how you are donig in the pursuit of your goal. Great for goal-setting — and an easy and elegant interface to boot.

                                        Download it here.

                                          21. Remember The Milk

                                          Another popular to-do list app, Remember The Milk has a huge following. It has plenty to offer, including the ability to share tasks with others.

                                          Download it here.

                                            22. Day One Journal

                                            When it comes to journaling, nothing really beats Day One. Its latest update added a slew of features that will make you want to start making journaling a habit.

                                            Download it here.

                                              For Files Organization

                                              23. Evernote

                                              Touted as the world’s most widely-used productivity app, Evernote an be used simply as a notetaking app or can be customized to be your GTD app of choice — among other things.

                                              Download it here.

                                                24. Pocket

                                                You can save an article, video or link you want to read or watch later to Pocket from anywhere including your computer, Safari, email, and your favorite apps like Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, and Feedly.

                                                Download it here.

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                                                  25. Sync.Me

                                                  This app identifies unknown phone calls, warns you from annoying spam calls, and adds a caller picture to your contacts from Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

                                                  Download it here.

                                                    26. Droplr

                                                    One of the most popular file-sharing apps out there today. Straight from the source: “Stay productive on the go. Droplr for iPhone keeps you in sync and makes sharing on the iPhone natural.”

                                                    Download it here.

                                                      27. Dropbox

                                                      Before iCloud, there was Dropbox. And there still is Dropbox, which is still widely used by both Mac and PC users all over the globe. It’s like having a flash drive in your iPhone. A must-have.

                                                      Download it here.

                                                        28. iDolly 

                                                        In conjunction with Dolly Drive and DollySync, iDolly allows you to edit and share your documents from your iPhone.

                                                        Since all your changes sync automatically to all your devices, the current version of a document will always be accessible because Dolly Sync keeps everything in sync. Very handy.

                                                        Download it here.

                                                          29. Soulver

                                                          It may seem odd that a calculator app shows up on this list, but this is no ordinary calendar app. Ben Brooks over at The Brooks review describes Soulver as follows: “It is what calculators would have been if they were invented at the same time computers were, instead of what we have with most calculator apps.” [3]

                                                          Download it here.

                                                            For Working Smarter

                                                            30. Captio

                                                            A simple capture tool. Straight from the developers: “It’s simple. Open Captio and start typing. When you’re done, hit Send. The note is immediately delivered to your email inbox.”

                                                            Download it here.

                                                              31. Drafts

                                                              A tremendous capture tool that allows for simple capture, followed by sending items to various applications such as OmniFocus, Things and more.

                                                              Download it here.

                                                                32. NoteShelf 2

                                                                This is a perfect note-taking app for you. You can take beautiful handwritten notes, type, annotate PDFs, record audio & create lists. You can organize them into categories or groups.

                                                                Download it here.

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                                                                  33. Doodle

                                                                  This app links directly with the Doodle service, which is one that allows you to plan and organize meetings far more efficiently and effectively. Lifehack contributor Steve Dotto has written about Doodle more in-depth here.

                                                                  Download it here.

                                                                    34. TextExpander (Legacy)

                                                                    I have saved countless hours of time with TextExpander, and despite its inability to be as robust on iOS as it is on the Mac, it is still a worthy app to have in your arsenal.

                                                                    Download it here.

                                                                      35. Launch Center Pro

                                                                      A quick launcher for the iPhone that doesn’t just launch an app…with some of them it can do much more. This app saves you time by launching complex actions in a single tap.

                                                                      Download it here.

                                                                        36. GoodReader

                                                                        This may seem to be an odd one to make this list, but here are plenty of reasons why it is here with this article.

                                                                        Download it here.

                                                                          37. LogMeIn

                                                                          Want to be able to control your Mac from wherever you are? Then get this app.

                                                                          Download it here.

                                                                            For Improving Security

                                                                            38. 1Password

                                                                            There is simply no better password manager out there. I’ve even put together a 1Password Emergency Kit worth looking at here.

                                                                            Download it here.

                                                                              39. LastPass Password Manager

                                                                              You can store passwords and logins, create online shopping profiles, generate strong passwords, track personal information in photo and audio notes.

                                                                              All you have to do is remember your LastPass master password, and LastPass autofills web browser and app logins for you.

                                                                              Download it here.

                                                                                40. Truecallers

                                                                                Identify and block spammers, search for unknown numbers and call friends easily with this app. With a community-based spam list from over 250 million users, you’ll need this app.

                                                                                Download it here.

                                                                                  There are plenty of other options out there (and we’ve heard from readers in the past as to what they enjoyed using), but these 40 are among the best.

                                                                                  More Great Apps Recommendations

                                                                                  Reference

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