It is a common occurrence for business owners, bloggers, hobby website developers, or anyone else who has a site. Your site’s visitors could be wondering why your site loads very slowly, whether it is their online shop, blog, or social media platform.
What Causes a Website to Load Slowly and How to Fix Them
The speed of your site determines how successful your website will be. It has a central role to play, including the conversion rate and the visibility of your site. Thus, optimizing your website’s speed is vital, although it might need some input to get it done.
Luckily, there are several accessible speed tests applicable. Even though there are several reasons why your site may be slow, you can resolve most of them for free. Unfortunately, slow speed for your website is undoubtedly a recipe for failure.
It is frustrating to both you and the visitors to your site. Slow loading sites account for at least 2.6 billion in losses of lost revenue each year. Thus, we look at some of the most common reasons why your site runs slowly and possible solutions you apply to start noticing a difference in your business.
Using unoptimized images on your website
If you have large file sizes with no tags, no description, or names, such images are considered unoptimized, and they may slow your website.
Images resulting from programs such as Photoshop are known to be large files. Even though they may be quality images, they can slow your website since they carry many details.
Besides, Goggle can’t see images. Thus, they usually read alternate tags only, which gives you room to add a small description of the image, but without the description, Google will not know what your images are.
How to solve it
You will need to optimize the images on your website hence turning your website into a fast one. While optimizing the images, you should start by compressing them first.
If you resize images, you should keep the ratio intact. Thus, if you resize the height, you will also need to resize the width; otherwise, you will be distorting the image quality.
Look for a photo editing platform that will allow you to stick to the correct ratio. It will be essential to change the size of the actual images instead of stating the size of the image on the website’s code since that will not optimize your images.
It is advisable to resize the photo before you insert the code. Besides, the file type is also vital in resizing the size of the image.
For instance, PNGs are applicable when using images that require some transparency or in instances where you need a very detailed image. But you should know that PNGs are larger files that take more time to load.
Since you want a standard file type that will load quickly, you should go for JPGs since they load quickly due to their smaller file sizes. Thus, the site will load faster for your visitors, particularly on mobile devices.
Too much flash content
Flash is a great tool that adds interactivity to your website, but it could also slow your website. Flash content consists of bulky files that are big hence making the pages load slowly.
Thus, reducing the size of the flash files or doing away with them will ultimately significantly improve your site’s speed. Also, you can look for HTML5 alternatives and use them to replace the existing flash content.
How to solve it
Find HTML5 replacements and reduce the size of the HTML files or eliminate them.
High traffic on the website
High traffic is another reason why websites get slow. Although information moves at a very high speed, it can only accommodate a given number of users before slowing down. The bandwidth of the website determines the number of visitors it can handle at a given time.
Bandwidth is how much technical information an internet connection can handle at a given time. A large bandwidth will handle more information, and thus it can handle more visitors.
The same case applies to the Mbps, which refers to megabits per second. It helps you to know how much information is transferred through your internet connection per second.
How to fix it
High traffic is necessary, and you should welcome it. But you will need to find a solution to keep your site loading faster by increasing your bandwidth.
That is achievable by contacting whoever is hosting your site and getting a better plan which will come with some increments.
Too many ads on your site
Ads will take a significant part on your site, just like videos and images, and can result in slow websites. If you are allowing third parties to advertise your website, they can cause your website to be slow.
The ads will increase the amount of time it takes to load the website and keep annoying the visitors to your site. The visitors on your site might bounce because of ads or the load time.
How to fix It
In case the visitors on your site are bouncing from your site due to too much load time, then decreasing the load time would be advisable; otherwise, you might end up losing valuable customers who would be worth more than the adverts.
Besides, if ads are your primary revenue source, you could be losing money if you have so many on your site. If the site takes too long to load, the visitors might find that they were waiting for ads instead of the content, and they bounce off annoyed.
Thus, it would be best to reduce the number of ads to at most two on your site. That will not slow your site much, and it will help to sustain your visitors.
A large number of social sharing buttons
It would be best to allow you and users to share information on social media fast, but it can also slow the load time if you have so many sharing buttons.
For these buttons to work, you will need to add them to your site plugins. You will also need to retrieve data from the respective social media site where they are used.
Thus, you will need to note that having a button for every social platform can lead to a slow pace for your site.
How to fix it
If you know your content does not get any share, you should do away with the share buttons. You should also reduce the number of share buttons on the page. It would be best if you only focus on high-value sites such as Facebook and Twitter without overloading your site.
It will also help to save your page from loading data from sites.
Lack of content delivery network (CDN)
Failure to use a content delivery network might be the cause of your slow website. Content delivery networks have several servers placed in various geographical places to serve your website users. The user will connect much faster to your website if you are using CDN with your website server. The content delivery network reduces the distance between the website server and the user.
The site loads very fast since the distance between the user and the website server is concise. A content delivery network speeds the communication between your browser and website server; without it, you might have to wait a bit longer to open your browser.
How to fix it
To fix a slow website, implement a content delivery network. You will have to engage a company offering professional content delivery network services for your website to be more accessible. The load time will be short, and you will have your website running in no time.
Having too many elements on a page
The videos, images, scripts, and various elements you have determine your page’s size. If you have more elements on a page, then it will load very slowly. When all pages load like snails, your website will be relatively slow.
How to fix it
To fix this problem, reduce the quantity and size of elements per page; this will reduce your website’s load. Maximize fewer images, videos, and other elements to achieve the desired effects. Consider performing a heat map test on your website to know what users are clicking and viewing.
The heat map test will help you know whether you have excess content on your website. Go ahead and delete videos, images, and other elements that have no views.
Inefficient web hosting
You need a hosting service for you to display your website online. Web host gives you space to create your website. As a result, it operates your website from its server. If a user enters your website in a browser, the web host uses its server and serves the user of your website.
Web hosting services have different costs, a cheap hosting service will load very slowly, and you may lose your customers.
How to fix it
Paying for a reliable web host will cost you more to acquire good hosting services, but you will enjoy peace of mind knowing that your website is easily accessible and loading time is reduced to seconds. Keep in mind that poor hosting services and a slow website can make you lose valuable customers. To avoid losing customers, always invest more in a hosting service that guarantees your users a fast load time.
Besides, you can acquire VPS windows since it is an inexpensive package, but it allows you to create and run complex websites. You can also store huge chunks of data and also stream it to a number of adaptable services. It is suitable for your company if you are not sure how much traffic you will experience.
Failure to make use of caching techniques
Caching is a technique that enables you to store data used frequently in cached memory. To improve the functioning and efficiency of your website, engage in the caching process. Without caching, you must be missing out.
The data at cached memory is easily retrieved as requests of this data are received directly to the point. Your website performance will drastically improve if you implement server and browser caching.
How to fix it
Caching is a bit tricky but can always be done carefully without altering something else. You can also engage an expert to do caching for you.
Various factors make your website load slowly. You require to take a lot of steps to make sure your website loads fast. It means a lot of time is required, while you may be engaged elsewhere. Being a business person, you may not have enough time to optimize your website. Hire an expert to clean the mess for you and have your fast-loading website.
How to fix it
Hire a professional is the easiest solution to having a fast-loading website. Experts always have knowledge, time, and resources to ensure your website is easily accessible. They also offer you advice on what you should do to have your website optimized.
Unclean coding is another cause of website slowness if your website has inline styling, large white spaces, empty new line, and irrelevant comments, the style sheet becomes more extensive in size, making your website load slowly.
How to fix it
Reduce the file size and compress the code to improve your website loading time; this process is called Minifying. If you don’t have enough knowledge in minifying, engage various online tools to clean and minify your stylesheet files. You can also consult IT experts.
Various factors affect the website loading speed. These factors include high traffic, too much flash content, numerous ads, bulky codes, and unoptimized images. It is challenging to determine what is the leading cause of a slow website.
You should put every effort into knowing the root cause of the problem and solve it, matter how hard it might seem. The fast-loading speed will attract customers and increase your monthly earnings. You can also look for an efficient support team to help you increase your website loading speed and solve your problem permanently.
How Blockchain Is Being Used With Smart Buildings – ReadWrite
Whether you realize it or not, many of us live in buildings with some smart capacity. You probably have at least one smart device in your home.
With the smart device industry set to grow by $65 billion by 2024, the odds are, you’ll add more of these devices. The true potential of smart homes lies in the ability of smart devices to communicate together — and that’s where blockchain technology comes in.
How Blockchain is Being Used With Smart Buildings
On the surface, smart technologies make individual tasks easier, but the potential is much larger than that. A smart device is effectively a sensor able to collect significant amounts of data about everything, from your energy use to how well-stocked your fridge is.
Smart Technology Works Better in Swarms
On its own, this data is valuable; when combined with data from other devices, its usability becomes game-changing. A properly connected smart home would be able to automatically adjust the heating to your preferences while minimizing bills, ordering your favorite groceries, monitoring and adjusting energy usage, sending repair notifications if something breaks, and much more.
Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are already used extensively in supply chain management. They help efficiently manage products passed through multiple stakeholders and verify that products are what the label says they are.
Catching Slave Labor in Fishing Supply Chains
One example where smart technology has been useful is in tracking fishing supply chains. The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) has used IoT to track sustainable tuna fishing.
The Western and Central Pacific tuna trade is rife with illegal fisheries — and, in some cases, slave labor — because tracking is either done via an easily-forged paper trail or not at all. However, savvy consumers and brands are demanding more accountability from the tuna industry.
The WWF’s branches in New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji have combined forces with blockchain software studio ConsenSys to implement secure traceability and track to address the problem.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) or QR codes capture information as a fish moves through the supply chain from the boat to grocers. Tracking information is automatically saved in blockchain, making it nearly impossible to forge.
Privacy and Compatibility Remain a Concern
Although smart technology has many uses in enterprise settings, it becomes a thornier prospect for individuals. IoT devices collect huge amounts of data which can reveal a lot about their owners. Additionally, they are often poorly secured, creating significant security challenges.
Most smart devices must run on centralized platforms controlled by major tech companies, notably Amazon and Google.
There have been significant privacy concerns about both companies due to their access to an extraordinary amount of personal data.
Amazon Alexa’s Vulnerabilities
Setting aside concerns about microphones, Amazon’s voice-activated assistant Alexa also presents other significant security concerns.
Although Amazon provides some privacy protections, with 100 – 200 million Alexa devices and over 100,000 skills already deployed, there is a significant concern about malicious developers taking advantage of security holes.
For example, developer names aren’t verified, allowing a malicious developer to stage a phishing attack posing as a different company. This risk is especially high with some skills that link to email, banking, or social media accounts.
After a skill has been approved and added to the marketplace, a malicious developer can change its coding without getting Amazon’s approval or notifying the customer. Many developers also have misleading privacy policies — or none at all, meaning that customers will have no idea how their personally identifiable information will be used.
Lack of Device Compatibility
The second challenge is compatibility. Early adopters are painfully familiar with the concept of device divorce, where two smart devices cannot speak with another. Part of the problem is that Amazon and Google are used as primary smart home controllers, and there isn’t a platform-agnostic solution widely available to most consumers.
Blockchain Technology is the Missing Piece of the Puzzle
Blockchain technologies are working to provide the solution to these challenges and others since they can enable P2P connections without the need for a centralized validator.
With blockchain, it would be possible to connect numerous smart devices without being forced to hand that data directly over to the device manufacturer, mitigating privacy and security concerns. It can also provide increased transparency over how data is used, helping users understand what data their smart home is collecting and what it’s used for.
Blockchain technology is also hardware agnostic. Thus, it would be possible for users to pair together devices from different manufacturers without worrying about compatibility.
IOTA’s Tangle vs. Traditional Blockchain
One of the best examples of this vision is the IoT-focused blockchain IOTA.
It is important to understand that we are not talking about financial blockchain technology like Bitcoin. Blockchains based on traditional Proof of Work (PoW), like Bitcoin, lack the speed and scalability necessary to process the millions of data points produced by smart devices.
Instead, we are looking at smart device-focused technologies, most notably IOTA. IOTA uses a Tangle specifically designed for data and value transfer.
Blockchains like Bitcoin are essentially long chains of blocks containing transactions. The Tangle, on the other hand, is constructed as a directed acyclic graph (DAG), which is a collection of vertices connected by edges.
IOTA’s implementation is designed in such a way that each new transaction (vertice) must approve two previous transactions when it enters the Tangle. This eliminates the need for Proof of Stake (PoS) or PoW consensus methods.
Because these transactions don’t require always-online validators, they are feeless and contain metadata that makes them suitable for micropayments and data transfer.
IOTA is interesting because the technology is more mature than many other IoT-focused blockchain solutions. The project has experienced past problems, but the roll-out of its improved Tangle has allowed it to secure some important partnerships, primarily in areas designed to improve transparency.
Properly Validating Smart Device Data Is The First Step
IOTA’s most important partnership for smart homes is undoubtedly Project Alvarium. The biggest challenge posed by IoT — and smart devices in general — is the sheer volume of data collected. The vastness of information makes assessing what data is trustworthy and useful difficult, especially in an automated environment.
To solve this problem, Dell and IOTA teamed up to create Project Alvarium, designed to provide a simple way to assess the trustworthiness of data gathered.
Project Alvarium’s system logs every datapoint as it travels across the system. Each interaction is given a trust rating, which is logged on the IOTA Tangle to prevent tampering. This provides a simple way to find problems or deliberate tampering within a network of data.
Blockchain Can Help Resolve Security Concerns About Smart Security
When smart home users are certain that they can trust the data being generated by their devices, it opens up a world of opportunities that could transform our daily lives.
The most immediate use of blockchain technology is in improving building security. The most high-profile problem is undoubtedly Amazon’s Ring. In late 2020, dozens of people sued Amazon over accusations that their Ring doorbells had been breached.
The breach enabled hackers to watch people inside their homes and talk to individuals in the house over the Ring speakers.
The Blockchain Difference
Blockchain has been shown to resolve both the problem of data breaches as well as hacking takeovers. Capturing a blockchain-powered device would require compromising the entire blockchain itself compromised.
But proper validation, such as that proposed by IOTA, allows malicious devices to be pruned from the network, significantly improving security.
Additionally, blockchain could enable consumers to understand how their data is being used, helping to make smart devices more privacy-focused.
Smart Building Management Solutions are Already Being Tested
The value of blockchain technology becomes even bigger at scale. One of the most impactful uses of IoT and blockchain technology is in building management. Whether for an apartment building or an office building, it’s often difficult to effectively manage a building’s heating, lighting, and security in a way that minimizes waste.
Example: How Blockchain Could Manage Heating Bills
In a traditional setting, most buildings are managed centrally. If there is a unified heating system, it is often controlled by the local administration. Although this system is more efficient than individually-heated buildings, there is significant room for human error. That’s because the system is not optimized to account for more efficient heating higher up in the building as heat rises.
A network of heating sensors could be used to automatically measure the temperature in each apartment or office in a building. If the different thermostats could communicate with each other, it should be possible to input all the data into a blockchain solution.
A scheme like this would allow the building operators to create a proper heat map of the building and understand the most efficient usage of energy. It would also enable residents to access the data and understand why the system works the way it does.
Theoretically, it could also enable a user to select a target temperature for their apartment by leveraging rising heat from lower apartments.
Solutions on the Horizon
This kind of project is already being tested. For example, Brickschain offers several products that minimize difficulties with building management and handover on sale. There are also an increasing number of studies looking at how blockchain can be positively implemented into the building management process.
The Future of IoT: Many-to-Many Marketplaces
When buildings are utilizing IoT devices and blockchains, a bigger opportunity opens up: decentralized marketplaces.
Currently, it can be difficult to get the best deal on energy or heating bills because it is a marketplace with many customers but only a few providers. Switching providers can be difficult and doesn’t guarantee a competitive rate.
However, with blockchain, it would be possible to change providers based on real-time pricing data. This setup would create a competitive many-to-many environment where many providers are looking to sell energy to many customers. The competition among providers would drive down energy prices and improve overall efficiency in energy markets.
Swedish District Heating Study
Sweden has conducted studies to investigate the utility of blockchain for a district heating market. The setup allows apartment blocks already utilizing blockchain to automatically select the most affordable provider at any given moment, minimizing bills without requiring micromanagement.
The same concept could be applied to many aspects of building management.
One interesting idea is the concept of decentralized governance. This type of network could empower tenants and apartment owners to vote on changes to their apartment block’s management proceedings.
For example, renters could vote in favor of using only green energy sources or for changes to living space regulations. Building administrators could then better understand their occupants’ needs and create a better living environment for all involved.
Blockchain Will be Needed to do IoT Correctly
Adoption of IoT and smart technologies will likely increase. Governments like the UK are already pushing hard on smart meters and many of us have already adopted some form of smart technology in our homes.
This rush to adopt new technology will undoubtedly come with significant scaling problems as well as security concerns and significant privacy issues.
Additionally, a market dominated by a handful of major tech companies like Amazon and Google could prove damaging to the consumer in the long term.
To counter these eventualities, we’ll need a platform-agnostic solution that allows a more diverse field of producers to create new IoT devices.
Blockchain technology still represents the best way to utilize IoT for everyone’s benefit. If solutions like IOTA are implemented into existing smart homes, then we could build a new decentralized marketplace that will give us better control of our data, while improving the efficiency of our homes.
Image Credit: pixabay; thank you!
Social Sign-on: Sure, it’s convenient. But is it really safe? – ReadWrite
Remembering passwords is always a hassle, especially when you have innumerable websites that require logging in to view or interact with their content. To make the process simpler (as little as a couple of clicks), webmasters worldwide have accepted and implemented social logins on their websites.
Social Sign-on: Sure, it’s convenient. But is it really safe?
So, what exactly is social login? How different is it compared to the traditional method of inputting your credentials such as username, email address and password manually? More importantly, is it safe enough for use on all kinds of browsing activities?
In this article, we answer all the above questions and more, helping you understand what social sign-on is, and what the disadvantages of this convenient method are.
The history of social logins
Social sign-on as a method of hassle-free authentication has been around for over a decade now. Back in the nascent days of the modern internet in 2008, Facebook launched Facebook Connect, a service aimed at simplifying registrations on websites.
Once webmasters enabled FB Connect on their websites, visitors to the site would no longer need to fill up lengthy registration forms to sign up for the website’s offerings.
All they needed to do was connect their existing Facebook account to the website, enabling direct access to the site with a click of a button.
In 2009 and 2010, Twitter and LinkedIn respectively enabled their users to socially login to other sites using their existing social network credentials.
Google+ followed suit in 2011, and although no longer active as Google+, it still supports social sign-on using a Google account.
While it all sounds very convenient, social sign-on has many drawbacks and challenges that impact both website visitors and website owners.
Social Sign-on: The challenges and disadvantages
The Trust Factor
Most internet users do not trust the websites they browse to store and utilize their personal information safely and responsibly. Often, website visitors are concerned about how the information they have shared will be used.
In a June 2020 survey conducted by Insider Intelligence, 32% of US Facebook users felt that they somewhat disagreed that the platform could keep their data and privacy secure.
People tend to be wary of the private information they share online; they often resort to uploading falsified or inaccurate information about themselves on social media.
Considering that these social media sites do not verify or vouch for the authenticity of their user’s information, this could be less than ideal for a website looking for accurate data while accepting new user registrations.
In 2019, Facebook released data that said that 16% of the accounts on its platform are fake/duplicate accounts created by individuals or companies. What’s more worrisome are the findings of the research team at NATO StratCom that suggest 95% of the reported fake accounts still continued to remain active, with no action taken by the social media website.
With no checks on the actual profile that’s being used to socially sign-on to your website, you could soon have an imposter, Donald Trump or Joe Biden signing up for your global warming newsletter or purchasing a bag of your freshly powdered Mexican coffee.
Not everyone’s social — nor on social
While we talk about social media, we need to understand that although it is a global phenomenon with an insanely large number (read 3.6 billion) of people using it, there is still a sizeable chunk (>50%) of the population that is not on social media.
Using a restrictive method, you risk alienating a section of society that could be your potential target audience.
Transfer of Power
Enabling social sign-on seems pretty enticing at first, considering it would cut down your authentication work significantly. But this very ‘benefit’ could end up costing you dearly, as you lose control over your visitors’ data to a third-party service provider, i.e., the social media network.
Should there be any downtime at the social media service’s end, your website visitors would be stranded, unable to login to your site or access their data?
Access Control Issues
Many internet access places tend to have controls in place when it comes to accessing social media. For example, corporate and educational networks generally block access to social websites. Certain countries like Iran, China, Syria, and North Korea have blanket bans on the most popular social websites.
Social sign-on still depends on an API call-back to the social networking site to authenticate the user. Thus, by having social sign-on set up on your website, visitors authenticating on your site through these networks would end up facing a website with broken functionality.
Social media accounts are often the target of several hacking and phishing attempts. Thus, if your user’s social media account is hacked, it could lead to their account on your site being compromised as a result.
A University of Maryland study revealed a hacking attempt every 39 seconds on average, affecting a third of Americans every year.
Hacked social accounts could have an adverse impact on your website as well, by performing activities that might eat up your server resources or corrupt your files, if your security is not up to the mark. Secure authentication is the need of the hour, and knowledge of the security practices will help solve these concerns.
Too much to choose
People use many social media websites, so keeping a single social login can be counterproductive. However, providing multiple methods to login could likely confuse or overwhelm your visitor, leading to lower conversion or sign-up rates.
Lesser data to work with
Using a social sign-on for your website would mean limited access to user data, especially email. Not every social media network allows websites to access the customer’s email address. For businesses that rely on customer information for lead generation, this would be a major deal-breaker.
Awareness of all the security practices and malpractices (sawolabs dotcom) will help educate users as well as the website owners.
If not social sign-on, then what?
All the above drawbacks would make webmasters question the efficacy of social sign-on. But then, is there a better alternative that does not include such shortcomings?
Say hello to passwordless authentication powered by SAWO Labs. A new-age solution designed to address all concerns of security, compatibility and functionality.
Image Credit: yellow graphic — from author; thank you!
Top Image Credit: karolina grabowska; pexels; thank you!
3 Ways Companies Can Be More Sustainable – ReadWrite
I’m thinking about our planet today — I think about our planet every day. Our planet is hurting, and many businesses are encouraging their employees to live more sustainably. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry and agriculture account for approximately 32 percent of direct emissions.
3 Ways Companies Can Be More Sustainable
Here are a few ways companies can encourage sustainability in their employees and work to lower the remaining 68 percent.
Employ a hybrid work model
With so many people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve inadvertently been doing Earth a huge favor. The EPA shows that transportation is responsible for 28 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, with about half of that coming from personal vehicles that burn gasoline and diesel. Because many companies instituted a work from home policy, there were fewer cars on the road and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Companies can continue this progress by instituting a hybrid work model once the pandemic is finally over.
Reduce waste in the office
One big way to reduce waste in the office is by offering snack and drink options that eliminate single-use plastic. For example, TechnologyAdvice uses a Bevi machine in the office, offering still, sparkling, and flavored water without single-use plastic. You might also consider snacks that don’t need to be individually packaged, like fruits or nuts.
While you may not be able to completely eliminate office waste, you can work to offset the waste you do generate. Make it easy for employees to recycle and encourage them to do so. You can create an employee-led recycling program, keep an “I don’t know” bin for those items that don’t always fall into the normal categories, and create challenges around recycling goals.
Continual education about climate change
However you decide to encourage sustainability in your office, it’s important that both you and your employees engage in continual education about climate change. Thanks to the different forms of media available today, educating yourself about climate change has never been easier.
For podcast listeners, consider checking out How To Save A Planet. It’s a Spotify original podcast hosted by scientist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and journalist Alex Blumberg, and it is the exact opposite of what people think when they hear “climate change resource:” it’s inspiring instead of depressing, entertaining, so accessible, and has great intro music.
Another Earth-friendly podcast you should listen to is Stories for Earth, which examines how climate change is discussed in pop culture.
If you like documentaries, check out Before the Flood, which was made by Leonardo Di Caprio and National Geographic. If you are a reader, consider these three: No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg, All We Can Save edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katherine Hayhoe, and The Future Earth by Eric Holthaus.
Image Credit: karolina grabowska; pexels; thank you!