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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 October 16, 2019

11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

Automations are key to improving efficiency. Set the system up right from the beginning and you’ll reduce the amount of no-shows and cancellations.

Whatever your business is, with automations, meeting scheduler apps do more than just streamline appointment setting. They prime your workflow for maximum results.

Meeting scheduler apps are awesome if you use them right. Use them wrong and you can look like an arrogant elitist.

In this article, I will share with you 11 great meeting scheduler apps you can start using today to boost your productivity.

1. ScheduleOnce

    ScheduleOnce is an industry leader and robust solution. Whether you work alone or have a large team, ScheduleOnce can support you.

    ScheduleOnce allows you to create multiple users and multiple calendars. I use one calendar for booking podcast guests with automations set up to prep my guests for our interview. I use another calendar for strategy sessions and coaching calls.

    ScheduleOnce also has embeddable widgets so you can keep the scheduler inside your own website.

    Starting at $7 a month and a 14 day free trial, ScheduleOnce can fit a variety of needs in business.

    Available on Web

    2. Calendly

      Calendly stands out for its clean, easy to use interface. If you like clean design, Calendly might be your choice. It too has robust automations and integrations for individuals and teams alike.

      You can try Calendly free for 14 days. Their basic plan is free while their most robust plan is only $12 a month.

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      Available on Web | Google Chrome Extension

      3. Assistant.to

        For those who use gmail, Assistant.to is a super simple solution.

        From inside an email, you click on the Assistant.to icon and pick times your free. Assistant.to embeds the times directly into the email so the recipient can quickly pick a time that works for them.

        While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to is completely free.

        Available on Web

        4. Acuityscheduling

          Acuity is a robust meeting scheduler very similar to ScheduleOnce. It integrates with CRMs, Email Marketing platforms, Analytics tools and accounting software.

          It comes with a 14 day free trial. They have a free solo account but if you want the benefit of the integrations, you’ll start as low as $15 a month and can cost up to $50 a month.

          Available on Web | iOS | Android

          5. Pick

            Built for simplicity, Pick is direct and easy to use. You can create your own url extension like pick.co/yournamehere and it integrates with Google calendar and Office 365.

            At $3 a month, this is a great tool for quick scheduling.

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            Available on Web

            6. X.ai

              For those who are early adopters of AI, this may be the solution for you. X.ai created two AI assistants they call Amy and Andrew Ingram. After setting up your account you simply CC them on your emails with the person you’re wanting to schedule and the AI assistants will email your guests from there until your appointment is set.

              This type of scheduler feels more personal because of the dialogue. There are stories on their site of people thinking Amy and Andrew are real people. X.ai integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook.

              Starting at $29 a month for an Individual account and $39 a month per user for a Team account, Amy and Andrew are ready to schedule meetings for you. Want to try it out first? They do have a free trial.

              Available on Web

              7. YouCanBook.me

                is another competitive solution for scheduling meetings online. You can manage the calendars of your entire team, configure booking forms, and integrate with your calendar.

                They have a free account branded with their company name or you can have some control over your branding and appearance at $10 a month for all their features. Either way, this company is worth a look.

                Available on Web

                8. Doodle

                  Doodle is unique in the space of meeting schedulers because it helps groups of people find a time to meet that works for everyone.

                  It integrates with your calendar and allows you to send a poll to all invited. Once people vote on the poll you can see which time works best for everyone.

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                  You can also run polls for food preferences if you’re scheduling a lunch meeting or a section of town if people are coming from all over.

                  While there is a free account, you’ll unlock it’s potential starting at $39 per year.

                  Available on Web | iOS | Android

                  9. WhenAvailable

                    WhenAvailable is another scheduler that works for groups of people. You can use it to schedule a pickup game of basketball, decide on your next book club or book your family reunion.

                    Their free account allows up to 20 guests, unlimited events and one contact group. For $15 a year you unlock all the goodies including reminders and chat messages.

                    Available on Web

                    10. Rally

                      Like Doodle and WhenAvailable, Rallly is helpful for scheduling meetings and events with multiple people involved. You create a poll and everyone votes. It’s quick and easy.

                      Unlike Doodle, it doesn’t have as many features, but it’s entirely free.

                      Available on Web

                      11. NeedtoMeet

                        Finishing strong, NeedtoMeet is our last app that allows you to schedule meetings or events for multiple people. It has mobile apps, custom urls, easy polling, notifications and commenting.

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                        NeedtoMeet also allows 1:1 Meetings for things like performance reviews for your whole team. You send out the your calendar slots to your team and they can only pick 1 slot, minimizing the amount of emails and scheduling you have to coordinate.

                        While they have a free account, you can unlock all features for only $19 a year.

                        Available on Web

                        Bonus: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Using Meeting Schedulers

                        In the excitement of streamlining your scheduling process, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those you’re inviting to meet. I know. I’ve done this.

                        To say “Hey, schedule time on my calendar” feels colder than “Hey, here’s my calendar. To avoid all the back and forth, pick a time that works best for you.”

                        Always make sure to frame your invite with your scheduler app with the benefit to them and why we’re doing it this way rather than the old fashioned, personal way.

                        A little finesse goes a long way. Without it, you risk seeming transactional and cold.

                        Some meeting scheduler widgets you can embed in your site can take a couple seconds to load. If you go this route, make sure there’s text just above the widget that lets your guest know the calendar will appear below and to wait for it to load.

                        If you use an online meeting tool like Zoom, it’s also important to explicitly let them know the meeting will take place on Zoom and include the Zoom link in the email reminder. Many make the mistake of not clarifying where the meeting will actually take place which can create last minute chaos at the time of the meeting.

                        Should you require special settings, like ethernet, external mics or lighting, let your guests know that on your thank you page and reminder emails so they are prepared for the meeting and you end up with the best meeting possible.

                        With clear communication in your automation, your meeting scheduler tools can almost perform like a virtual assistant for a fraction of the cost, or free, depending on the app you choose.

                        The Bottom Line

                        Meeting scheduler apps are diverse in features and unique in design. Before committing to one and realizing it’s not a fit, I recommend exploring which 3 might best fit you and then doing a trial with each of them at the same time so that you can see how they feel as you use them side by side.

                        Scheduling meetings the old fashioned way can be tedious. Conversely, finding a scheduling app that works seamlessly in the background is heavenly.

                        Like cell phones, meeting scheduler apps are moving from a nice-to-have luxury to must-have necessity in the lives of productive people. As you explore your options, stay true to your brand and the tools that have worked well for you to this point and simply find a meeting scheduler app that plays well with what you have created.

                        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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