When it’s time to get in shape, you know what to do at first. You cut out your bad habits, and try your best to adopt better ones. You keep it up as long as you can, but most of the time you give up your good habits and return to your old ways.
But if you’re really going to change your ways, you need to do more than just adopt a few good habits. You need to change some basic things about how your life is organized. Instead of cutting back on treats, don’t even buy them at the grocery store. Walk or bike part or all the way to work, instead of driving your car. By adopting healthy inputs—the activities that fuel your life—you’ll ensure that you’ll get healthy outputs, such as that beach body you want to achieve and keep.
With websites, it’s no different. Sure, you can redesign your site, install a fancy plug-in, or add a new feature to your site, but if you don’t fix your bad habits you’ll find that site quickly gets as slow, bloated, and as prone to break as ever. Here are a few good habits you should adopt to keep your site fit and fast even after you’re finished with your upgrades.
Control Your Images
Whether you’re running a blog, e-commerce store, or just an informational website, you probably rely on images to illustrate your posts, products, and ideas. But unless you’re a professional photographer, or have one in your employ, you’re probably a bit lazy when it comes to inspecting file formats, image sizes and, most importantly, links. By letting your images get out of control, you risk slowdowns, broken links, and poor user navigation. Keep these thoughts in mind when you’re rethinking your approach to image management:
- Keep your images, and know your rights. The easiest way to include a website on your site is to just copy the link and paste it onto your blog post or web page. But if you do this you’re putting your trust in someone else’s site and, furthermore, you probably don’t know whether you even have the permission to use their content. Instead of depending on the kindness of strangers, download any images you use on your site, and use Google’s Reverse Image Search in order to try to determine who originally made it. Look for images with Creative Commons licenses, so you won’t have to take it down, or face legal action, when someone complains.
- Use nginx to power your image server. Images are, for the most part, static, meaning that they won’t be changed on the fly when people visit your site. With nginx you can optimize your image server so it will load faster.
- Consider compression. While JPEG remains the most popular image compression format out there, Google recently introduced WebP, an image format that gives you smaller file sizes without noticeable loss in quality.
Combine and optimize your scripts, style sheets, and CMS
Clean up your site, and add new features carefully
As you know, it’s difficult to get in shape without making a clean start. When you’re trying to improve your website, it’s helpful to uninstall and delete any unneeded plug-ins, scripts, and code that you’re not using any more. You might also consider clearing your site out completely, and setting up a development site so you can test out new plug-ins and scripts before you put them on your live site.
Building good site habits isn’t easy, but it’s well worth saving the headaches and heartaches of poorly maintained and updated websites. By handling images more effectively, combining and optimizing your scripts, and cleaning up your site more generally, you’ll lay the groundwork for a sleek and speedy website.
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Photo by Sebastian Anthony