Web Site Security & Performance – Web Site Must Haves!

As a modern user on the web, we tend to expect a few basic things out of each website we interact with; security and performance. If we are doing online shopping and are required to enter personally identifiable information like your home address, social security number (in rare cases) or your credit card information, we expect the site to be properly secured during the transaction to prevent having our data stolen. With the days of dial-up long behind us, we also expect to access data quickly. Nobody wants to wait for longer than a few seconds for a website to load. It’s a constant fight to garner the trust of the individuals who are accessing the website and to keep them on the website for as long as possible. A few simple tricks and some optimization can help close the gap for an overall better experience for the end-user.

When thinking of security, one of the most important and common practices is to ensure your website has an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) security certificate. For most websites, use of the free SSLs provided from Let’s Encrypt or AutoSSL is a free and viable solution. These providers allow websites to have proper security certificates without the cost or technical knowledge that was required in the past. By installing these SSL certificates on your website, your customers’ browser will encrypt the data being transferred between the website and the end-user to prevent “prying eyes” from being able to view and steal your personal information. In addition, the use of an SSL certificate on your website will often give you a boost in search engine rankings, which we all know is critical for the growth of your website.

Now that you have your site secured, let’s talk performance. Have you ever gone to a website that was taking more than a few seconds to load? How long did you wait for it to render, or did you leave and go somewhere else? Most people are too impatient and busy to wait around for long page load times and would rather go somewhere else. There are some tricks to help with this issue and to get your website running at mach speed!

  • Check what kind of resources your website needs to load, like CSS and JavaScript. These can be a killer on performance if they are unoptimized. By minifying your JavaScript and CSS code, it brings down the size of the data that needs to be loaded for the end-user.
  • Utilizing CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) along with minification can also help increase the time required to download the files needed for your site by making those files available via geolocation. The servers determine your location and the files are stored on multiple servers across the world, making them available close to you means less distance for the data to travel making it faster to retrieve.
  • Another helpful tip when it comes to using JavaScript is to prevent it from loading in the header of the file, and instead load your JavaScript at the bottom of the body, preventing slowdowns in page rendering. It’s important to get a rendering on screen as soon as possible in order to let the user know something is happening rather than a blank screen. People may be willing to wait a bit longer if they see some kind of progress.
  • Another essential part of the recipe for faster page loads is to ensure the server that everything runs off of has enough resources. RAM, CPU, Caching and even disk drive type will all impact how fast your website loads. And, if you are on a shared host, consider a Virtual Private Server so that your website is not slowed down by another website hosted on the same server.

With the healthy mix of security and performance, the web cocktail should provide a pleasant experience for the end-user. The goal is to give them an enjoyable experience with minimal delays and protection that will hopefully encourage them to return in the near future.

~ Luke L.