Phil Gibson - Marketing | Building Brand Experience
Phil Gibson - Marketing | Building Brand Experience

Static/Dynamic Content

When you have design decisions to make, compromise on speed for the customer's benefit.  These choices will be additive and it will matter to your users.  The problem with the alternative is that everything adds up in user experience, especially with global transmission.  One second becomes 3 and then 5 and then worse.  Squeeze everything thing out of every decision and the problem will take care of itself.

 

Start with the base URL of your site.  Host this URL in the registered domain for your site in the DNS registry.  Avoid redirects for this base page, i.e. do not forward from your base domain to www.xxx.com/home/index.html for example.  That redirect while convenient for your developers or your system, creates a burden for every request for your site globally.  Avoid these at all costs.

 

Web pages are delivered through HTTP requests.  The fewer the requests, the faster the display of the page.  If you look at the delivery of your pages throught Firebug, you will see each request and delivery into your browser.  Combining the components that make up your page into fewer elements will reduce the time to load your page.  This will take additional planning and creativity but it can be done.  Create one master CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) for your site and call this CSS for your page.  Expand this CSS definition until is the only style element you need.  Load this definition in the header of your page as an external element so that it can be successfully cached. Many times, styles are loaded or updated for each page on the site.  While that can be convenient for the developer, it adds to the page delivery time for the customer.  Press the issue.

 

Compress your images into single element images where possible.  Where these cannot be added as layers or backgrounds, be certain that they are compressed to their minimum size when the images are created and saved.  I am never surprised to find photographic quality images that are megabytes in size at the heart of page load problems.

 

Get your developers to organize their scripts into single files wherever possible.  Again this requires additional planning but javascript files can be treated much like global CSS files and delivered from header calls if they are organized in this way.  A single large JS file with compression and cacheing is always faster than many individual files even if most of the code is not used on a particular page.

 

HTML content on pages should always be compressed at the server level using Gzip.  This further reduces the transfer time and today's modern browsers support this standard.

 

I will cover cacheing below so let's move on to static and dynamic or personalized user content.  Scripts are primarily used to calculate the special features you offer to your users based on their profile and who they are to you, a simple one is Signed On yes/no.  Your developers use that variable to trigger different features.  When these variables call for frequently changing dynamic content, your scripts query a database of some type.  Static CSS, javascript, and HTML can be cached and distributed globally so your users call these pages quickly from fast local servers.  When the content is unique or personalized, it has to come back from your database and a central point of distribution.  Cached content is faster.

 

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This Web site is aimed at capturing some of the basic concepts I use when creating integrated marketing programs and leveraging the internet.

 

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