Towards the end of the year, Chrome v62 will be released, bringing with it many new changes for both users of the browser and site owners. The biggest change will be the marking of non-HTTPS sites.
These sites will be marked with text input fields and will automatically be viewed in incognito mode as ‘not secure’. Google has started rolling this out, by reminding all website owners that they need to switch to HTTPS or their site will be marked like this.
Further to the marking of non-HTTPS sites, website owners will also have to incorporate SSL Certificates to secure the information being shared between their server and their visitors. If this isn’t incorporated it means that sensitive information could be exposed to the internet. HTTPS will be the norm in due course, so there is no need to worry about transferring across.
There is a problem with SSL Certificates though. Not all websites which have this certificate can or should be trusted. Luckily for us though, Google has come up with a solution for this.Users who are worried about which sites can be trusted should look no further than the URL. Look for letters in the URL which seem out of place, such as numbers in the place of letters, or letters made to look like numbers. Even look out for additional letters or numbers that shouldn’t be there. There are fully comprehensive guides out there which can help you distinguish between safe sites with an SSL Certificate and unsafe ones with the certificate.
You can also look out for an EV SSL Certificate (Extended Validation Certificate). This will show that this site is completely trustworthy. A trusted website will have the company name next to the URL, such as Apple, Inc (URL). Unfortunately, not all SSL certified sites will have this, but most of the big name companies will. It will only be a matter of time before more and more smaller sites are also becoming EV SSL certified.
However, despite all of this, it is important to note that phishing sites can hijack sites which already have SSL certification in place. This can add the appearance of being a legitimate site, even though they are not. These phishing sites can also use free (and non-legitimate) SSL certificates to make themselves appear more trustworthy.
If you’re worried about the SSL certification as Chrome moves to its new version, you can access a full guide to enabling HTTPS for your site, and how to avoid your site being marked as ‘not secure’. It is always worth keeping up to date with the latest phishing scams and makes sure that your site is fully protected from hackers to ensure the security of your servers, and your visitor’s data.
With the days of slow dial-up internet long behind us, it is easy to forget about website load times and fall into the trap of throwing high-quality but cumbersome photos onto your website – straight from your digital camera. But while large graphics can look stunning when used in the right way, page load time should always be a top consideration.
Mobile Web Browsing
Although home broadband connections have never been quicker, visitors trying to find your business from their mobile phone or tablet are often throttled with slower load times and higher bandwidth costs. Not only could your website be slowing to a crawl for these users, it could also be costing them money!
This is a particular concern if your website does not have a mobile-friendly version. Mobile websites are typically designed to be the smaller and more agile counterparts to a full website. Mobile websites will often show only essential information about your business so that people on the go can quickly learn where you are, who to call, and what services your business provide.
If your website contains images of a large file size, whether they be photos, diagrams, or artwork, your mobile visitors could pay a hefty cost. For all their trouble, mobile visitors, confined to much smaller screens than those on their computers at home, will usually not even be able to enjoy the quality of your images as they are scaled down to fit their smaller screens.
Choosing the Right Image Format
One way to ensure your files are not too large is to choose the most appropriate file format for the type of image you want to display. The most important factor to consider is whether your image is a photo, or a simple graphic such as a logo or diagram. Other considerations to be aware of include whether or not your image is animated, uses transparency, or is especially colourful.
JPEG (pronounced jay-peg) is a popular file format you may already be familiar with. The JPEG format is how photos are commonly stored from a digital camera. These types of files end in .jpg or .jpeg. JPEG is a great format for photographs (the P in JPEG stands for photographic), which are rich in colour and texture. JPEG works by storing the information in your image in a way which often produces a much smaller file, in the process altering the image slightly and thereby reducing its quality. This technique is called lossy, because data is lost in the process of saving to JPEG format. If done properly, the decrease in quality will be unnoticeable to the average viewer of your website.
Unless your photo requires transparent regions (such as if you are cropping out a person from their background) or is an animated image (such as a short video clip), use JPEG for all photographs.
Most digital cameras save photos in a very high resolution. This means your photos will have very large dimensions, wider and taller than most people’s screens. It is therefore critical to ensure that your photo is resized to be only as high and as wide as it needs to be before using on the web. For maximum results, save your file at a quality setting which achieves as small a size as possible without reducing the quality to a noticeable degree, and save your file without meta data. These options are available to you in many types of photo manipulation software, such as Photoshop.
- Use JPEG for all standard photos.
- Never use JPEG for simple graphics such as logos or diagrams.
- Select a quality level for your JPEG files which has a balanced trade-off between size and quality.
- Make sure the physical dimensions of your image are small.
- Save JPEG files without meta data when using on the web.
PNG (pronounced ping) is a newer image format that has become popular on the web due its efficient way of storing simple graphics which contain few colours, such as logos, diagrams, and icons. PNG files end in .png. PNG stores images using a lossless technique, meaning no information is lost in the process of saving your files as PNG format. This fact means the crispness of your graphics will be maintained meaning none of the “fuzzy” look associated with poor quality JPEG files will be apparent.
PNG can also store images which contain transparent regions or even translucent (partially transparent) regions. However, PNG is not capable of handling animated images.
- Use PNG for most simple graphics.
- Use PNG for graphics that contain transparency, especially partial transparency.
- Use as few colours in your image as possible to decrease file size.
GIF (pronounced jiff, commonly as giff) is a file format that has achieved fame on the web due to its ability to save short animations, which can easily be shared with others. GIF files end in .gif. Unless your graphic is animated, there are often better formats for saving your image. Like PNG, GIF is a lossless format, and is best suited for storing graphics with few colours such as diagrams and icons. However, PNG usually results in a smaller file size. If your graphics are very small (only a few pixels high and wide) GIF can result in smaller file sizes than PNG, but this is a rare exception.
GIF can store photos which contain transparent regions, but cannot store translucency. This means each part of your graphic must be either completely opaque or completely transparent. This effect can produce jagged edges when used improperly, but works well against straight horizontal and vertical lines.
- Use GIF for short animated graphics such as loading icons.
- For longer animations, especially video clips, consider saving in a video file format.
- Use GIF for extremely small graphics.
Other Image Formats
In addition to the three most common image formats used on the web, JPEG, PNG, and GIF, there are a host of other formats supported by different web browsers.
SVG is an emergent format on the web, with usage increasing as web browser support increases. Like PNG and GIF, SVG is best used for simple graphics. However, unlike PNG and GIF, SVG images can be scaled up or down with no change in quality. This makes SVG a popular choice for websites which change depending on the visitor’s screen size, as they can remain sharp no matter how big or small they are presented. Unfortunately, browser support is lacking in older web browsers. If your website is only concerned with modern web standards without regard to older web browsers, SVG may be an option for you.
WebP is an image format developed by Google, which is designed to optimise images for the web by keeping file sizes smaller while retaining the same quality that JPEG and PNG provide. Although there are few trade-offs, WebP is a fairly new image format, so support is not available in a wide range of web browsers. In the future WebP may be the go-to format for all images on the web.
BMP is an image format which you may have experience dealing with through Microsoft Paint. BMP files are lossless, but are often very large – larger than any other formats specified here. As a result, web browser support is lacking for BMP. Never use BMP files on the web.
APNG is a similar format to PNG, but it has the added capability of enabling animation. Web browser support for APNG is sparse, so it is not recommended for use on the web.
ICO is a format used for saving icons. On the web, ICO is commonly used to store a website’s favicon (favourites icon), which appears on the tab of a web page at the top of your web browser, or in your list of bookmarks (also called favourites). ICO should only be used on the web for favourites icons.
- Scale down your image to be only as big as it needs to be. Large images, especially photos, can bog down otherwise simple websites. Smaller images are almost always smaller in file size too.
- Save your image in an image manipulation program such as Photoshop, which has in-built techniques for helping you keep image files small. The photoshop tool Save for Web is a great way to control the file size and quality of your images.
- Remove extraneous meta data from your images. Meta data such as what camera your photo was taken on and on what settings, what time the image was created, and what software it was created on are nice, but add unnecessary bulk when these images are destined for web, as this data is never shown on screen.
- To further decrease file size, use a tool such as Smush.it.
Don’t be intimidated by technicalities and abbreviations! We’ve prepared an infographic that explains how you can attract visitors combining the two most powerful promotion techniques: Search Engine Optimisation and Pay-Per-Click advertising.
Every now and then companies tell me that their mobile Web traffic is still too low for them to prioritize it over the traditional PC Web. While few can doubt that the latter is still prevalent among customers, in reality, many brands are experiencing low traffic due to the poor user experience afforded to those accessing via a mobile device.
There is no doubt the World Wide Web has already started the move to mobile devices, and the shift is accelerating, with 2014 cited as the year mobile surpasses desktop Internet usage. Not having a mobile Web strategy for a consumer-facing company means you’re ultimately moving against the market and no business should be swimming against such a powerful tide as that means being left behind. So what is a good mobile Web strategy? Here are five key questions you need to answer to know if your website is mobile ready.
1: HOW FAST DOES YOUR FRONT PAGE DOWNLOAD ON A WEAK CELLULAR NETWORK?
Many companies leave website testing up to their IT department who often test sites from within a Wi-Fi network on just a handful of leading devices. But rarely do companies test their website while out and moving around through different cellular quality connections as their viewers would…until the CEO calls someone up screaming about how slow the website was on their mobile device while out of the office. More importantly, your viewers will only give you 3-5 seconds in most cases to get your page loaded on their device; get it wrong and over 79 percent of viewers say they will leave a site before download finishes.
If you do have problems but your content is critical to the brand experience and campaign messaging then there are options. Using client side device detection to identify the bandwidth quality of the visitor and reduce video and image resolutions accordingly before the page even loads can have a dramatic impact on load times. Lazy loading methods can also work but give a poor user experience if they start scrolling down the page too quickly.
2: HOW WELL DOES YOUR WEBSITE AND CONTENT ADJUST TO DIFFERENT DEVICES?
The mobile landscape is diverse in terms of device screen size, resolution, and many technical features which can all have a massive impact on the user’s experience. Believe it or not some companies are still running a single PC website only to any device which is a well-documented nightmare for mobile users. Those companies that have started building mobile solutions usually do it in two ways; with dedicated site templates for mobile phones or a Responsive Web Design (RWD) strategy, where the website page changes the layout to fit a variety of screen sizes. Both are relevant approaches and you should decide which is best for you based available on resources and costs (Web professionals weigh in on the great debate here). Dedicated mobile sites can be faster and more customer centric but mean extra content management and duplicate layout and design across the screen breakpoints you define.
RWD can take advantage of one design and the same content, reducing maintenance costs, but it can be costly to build and in most cases increases the load times of your website. The future of the mobile Web is likely to be a combination of the two concepts. Adaptive Web strategies use both server and client side detection to detail the user’s device and context, swapping out elements of a Responsive template and adapting to the visitor’s device and requirements. With this approach, it is possible to define different breakpoints depending on screen size and device functionality to adapt content within Responsive templates.
3. HOW WELL IS YOUR WEB CONTENT MEETING THE CONTEXTUAL NEEDS OF YOUR VISITOR?
Similar to changing Web content to meet device size and capability, your mobile website needs to take into account the visitor’s behavior, context, and immediate requirements which can vary dramatically based on device. Someone using a smartphone at lunch to access your website via a Twitter campaign link or a search result, for example, will likely be looking to do something very different than visitors coming to your site in the evening on a PC or tablet with a strong Wi-Fi connection at home. Similarly, behavioral patterns can emerge between particular device users. For example, an iPhone 5s user may be spending more money or time on your site over Android or older iPhone version users. Knowing this detail will allow you to segment, target and track your mobile users to specific campaign content. Getting your website right will create ‘mobile moments’ which increase conversions. You’ll need a good Web analytics product with accurate and detailed mobile information to gather this detail on your visitors and build reports to track campaign results.
4. DO YOUR MOBILE GOALS MATCH A MULTI-CHANNEL VISITOR LANDSCAPE?
Mobile Web visitors are not a single pass through the customer funnel from campaign click to purchase like the traditional PC visitor. Expecting a mobile visitor to complete a single path to conversion is unrealistic. Consumers have a lot of options now and they use their devices to search, shop, talk, and share a lot of information before they make their purchasing decisions. The new multi-channel marketing strategy must take into account different conversion goals for different devices and behaviors. You may have an engagement or influencer goal for smartphones and a purchase or download goal for tablets based on your user’s behavior, as defined, by device and context. Segmenting your mobile customers and building a marketing plan to engage through their multi-channel experience with your brand requires analytics and accurate mobile device data.
5. ARE YOUR MOBILE WEB TRAFFIC AND CONVERSIONS INCREASING MONTH ON MONTH?
Last but certainly not least, if you’ve prepared, built, tested, segmented and tracked your marketing campaigns and website for the mobile Web and your multi-channel customers as pointed out above you should be seeing an increase in overall visitors, customer satisfaction and engagement. If you build it right, they will come. If you’ve done the hard work and attracted a potential customer to your website, then you can only lose them with a poor experience that fails to take into account all of the above complexities.
- Websites Never Sleep. Many people surf the web in the evening when most businesses are closed — which is fine because websites never sleep! A website will allow your business or organization to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Having a website is the equivalent of having an employee working around the clock — even weekends and holidays!
- Your Top Competitor Has A Website. If you are in direct competition with another business that has a website, they have a clear advantage — especially if they are adequately marketing their website. A website is a great way to level the playing field.
- “Just Google It”. More than ever before, people are turning away from traditional means of finding information and looking online. Your business should be at their fingertips.
- Websites Improve Customer Confidence & Corporate Image. With a professional website, you will improve you overall impression to the public and, in turn, your customers will develop a greater sense of confidence in your organization.
- Small Businesses Have Higher Revenue. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses that have websites are averaging $1.07 million more per year in sales than small businesses not online. That equates to 39% higher revenue.
- Do You Know 266 Million People? That is the number of North Americans that regularly use the Internet. Worldwide Internet usage is well over one billion.
- Websites Help Establish More Customers. According to the Small Business Administration, 50% of Internet sales are from new customers. Having a website significantly improves your customer reach no matter what services or products you offer.
- Websites Are Not Just Local – They Are Global. Most small businesses are only able to market to their town and surrounding communities. With a website, you can take your goods and services across America and around the world, if you so choose.
In the three months prior to 30 June 2011, 1.9 million New Zealanders had active Internet subscriptions via a mobile phone. So the total number of Internet connections in New Zealand is around 3.66 million