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Top Technical Tips For Website Owners

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This post goes out to all of us who are lucky enough to own a website and trying to use it to make money online.

As you might have seen the last 2 weeks have been taken up with fixing a few mistakes that I made by pressing a few wrong buttons and doing things the hard way. With this mind here’s a few things that should help you with your own websites.

Load Speed Is Important

At the start of January I posted a link to a new post in a live chat, but rather than get instant comments and praise all I got was “Dude, your site is broken” as it was taking > 30 seconds to load. On the internet that is like forever, and probably helps to explain the high bounce rate I was getting in my google analytic accounts.

I would highly recommend that you check out these 2 sites and see how long your site is taking to load.

If your site is taking greater than 10 seconds, look at the results and try to figure out what’s causing the slow load.

The weirdest thing I found was that http://www.domain.com is different to www.domain.com and I had banners and images hosted on both, so that was a major factor in the load time.

Also a few plugins like social media boxes were causing some delays.

Hopefully I’m now running at about 5 seconds đŸ™‚

Create Back-ups

During the struggle to sort out load time I was just deleting all sorts of things, and eventually I decided to hit the upgrade button for thesis, and then the existing content went all over the place…

I suddenly found that if I rolled back to my last back-up I would be back up at 30 second load times and have to go through all the pain of doing the removal of code and probably miss the most important things.

When you make a step change in the right direction create a specific back-up point that will work for you.

Don’t Just Jump In

Normally I’m good at reading instructions.

With flatpack furniture, cake baking, and my chemisty I take time to do my research, but my familiarity with thesis v1.8.5 was such that I assumed that thesis v2 would just work the same…

If I’d taken 5 minutes to do some research on google or read the support forums I would have realised that it’s gone way geekier than before and that support manuals were not complete – lots of people similar to me have sunk with their attempts to make it work.

After lots of swearing I went back to the very basics and build this site from a total blank template.

Massive thanks must go to Amelia from Melbourne who has created the best set of videos I have seen in a long time.

Theme Freeze

If I’d done my research properly I would have found this plugin

It’s from Matt Gross (not part of the 80’s pop sensation Bros) who’s one of the top wordpress developers.

Basically if you install this plugin it will freeze the theme for all visitors, but allow you to work inside the admin area on the new look and design of your site. Much better than working on a live site and making you look like an amateur to your visitors.

Please use the benefit of my hindsight if you do decide to change the look of your wordpress site.

Learn Some CSS

I will end with some positive notes.

Having spend at least 36 hours playing and learning thesis v2 I have to admit it’s starting to grow on me, and I can actually see how the changes will benefit my site. I would recommend using firefox and installing the firebug plugin, it will help you pinpoint exact areas of your website and change how it looks instantly.

When you have a free theme and don’t like a font or colour it’s almost impossible to change, but not with the custom CSS tips I have picked up from Amelia – it’s just html for designers.

I know that I still have a few areas around the site which need to have a bit more space around it, so if you do spot something that looks really weird please let me know – my social details are up on the top right.

Andrew Stark

 

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About the author: Andrew is a scientist who happens to know a lot about the technical aspects of blogging and listbuilding. If you have an issue with wordpress or your autoresponder and setting up squeezepages please get in touch via email / twitter or hire him on fiverr.

11 comments… add one
  • Rob February 5, 2013, 2:25 am

    Andrew,

    Glad you got a handle on things. The site’s looking much better than the last time I had a looksee. Your sidebar is back and your header is up where it ought to be. CSS lets you do some pretty slick stuff when you get into it. I have some nifty font tricks on my niche site (that I am woefully behind on).

    Cheers,
    Rob

    • Andrew Stark February 6, 2013, 9:36 pm

      Hi Rob,

      Thanks for the e-mail with links to css sites, couple this with thesis v2 and anything is possible.

      Andrew

  • Ralph Vawter February 5, 2013, 3:12 am

    Hi Andrew,
    Sorry to hear about your problems, but I found this to be a very interesting post.

    All to often we don’t take proper precautions, and don’t realize how much it can impact us until after something goes wrong.

    I found the load speed sites very interesting and actually used the wp plugin from GTMetrix to speed my site up.

    Keep up the good work, your site is looking much better than the last time I saw it.

    Talk soon,
    – Ralph
    Ralph Vawter recently posted..3 Essentials You Need To Build a List – Part 2

    • Andrew Stark February 6, 2013, 9:39 pm

      Hi Ralph,

      Great to see that you’re working on load speed.

      Far too many people think “it won’t happen to me” until it’s too late, especially with the internet. I actually find that I take more risks with my own site, as when I work on client sites I always take a back-up as the first thing.

      Andrew

  • Steven Stuart February 5, 2013, 4:12 am

    Hey Andrew,

    Your site is looking really good. I’ve always been under the impression that clean and simple is best. It makes the posts really stand out.

    Your product banners are really cool, too. They really encourage you to check them out without being too obtrusive.

    That optin box is the most original one I’ve seen in a long time. I think that it really gets your curiosity up. Should really reel em in .

    Thanks for the links, I’m going now to check out the load speed on my site.

    Thanks man, – Steve

    • Andrew Stark February 6, 2013, 9:48 pm

      Hi Steve,

      Sometimes the worst thing you can do is copy everyone else, hence I created my own image form and tried something different.

      I will drop you a note about some ideas on how to get thesis onto your site.

      Andrew

  • ian clarke February 5, 2013, 9:56 am

    Andrew
    ‘There’s no gain without pain’……that’s certainly true in your case. You’ve learnt a lot and improved your site hugely. I particularly like the mystery gift at the top right….we’re a curious bunch, so I’m sure this will work well. I assume the email address people submit will go straight into your mailing list?

    • Andrew Stark February 6, 2013, 10:11 pm

      Hi Ian,

      The mystery gift is the same pdf report as before, but I do get the feeling that the idea to try something different is a good one.

      I will also be putting another form at the bottom of each post along with my bio.

      Andrew

  • Micah Medina February 6, 2013, 10:18 am

    You know who really loves security plugins? People who’ve gotten their site WASTED before and had to rebuild from scratch (or frantically hope the Google cache saved an archive)… been there, done that.

    And it sucks.

    Anyway, Andrew… when you’re creating AMAZING content, you don’t have to work about looking like a hack because of your blog theme…

    The rest of us have to work a little harder. đŸ™‚

  • Tim Bonner February 6, 2013, 6:53 pm

    Hey Andrew

    Great news that you’ve almost got your site back up and running the way you want.

    The Theme Freeze plugin is a great shout. I’ve not heard of it before but it will be really useful for making changes before they go live.

    I’ve always wanted to get into CSS and learn more about it. It’s one of the many things on my list of things to do. Great that you’ve found some tutorial videos on Thesis 2 which will help with CSS stuff!
    Tim Bonner recently posted..Will The Real Tim Bonner Please Stand Up?

  • Adrienne February 9, 2013, 1:50 am

    Wow Andrew, I can sympathize with you I’m afraid.

    During the month of December and part of January I had issues with my blog. Loading time, database error issues, you name it. I had a friend help me to only find out it was CommentLuv Premium that was causing the issue. Now it didn’t affect everyone because they don’t have over 20,000 pages of comments which it was going through every single page just to load. Yikes!!!

    Anyway the complaints, the frustrated readers and the time it took to find the issue and get it resolved is something I don’t wish on anyone. Just part of our lovely wordpress issues though.

    I had heard that if you’re already running Thesis then it’s not recommended to upgrade to 2.0 because it will mess your entire theme up. If you intend to create a new blog then yes. So I did not go that route thank goodness and I’m glad I didn’t.

    Backups are so important and everyone can continue with the attitude that it won’t happen to them but watch out. You just never know.

    Glad you’re back up and running and a lesson learned.

    Now, enjoy your weekend. You deserve a break.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..How To Build A Responsive List

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