Tips and Tricks for Educators Establishing a Personal Brand
From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
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Websites crash all the time. It is a common problem for everyone from schools to teachers to businesses to anyone who has a website. Here are some tools that I recommend to help figure out why your website is crashing or just to double check to make sure it is configured properly.
If you are having issues with your website, here are 5 tools to make your website faster and better. Even if you’re not having issues, these tools can help improve your page load speed and make sure your website is configured properly. If you’re getting results you don’t understand, contact me or someone you trust that is technically proficient. Some results can be handled by anyone, but if in doubt — give a shout to @beeghleytech.
DNSstuff is one of the best web-based tools used to check and monitor DNS issues. DNS stands for Domain name service. Think of DNS as the Internet’s phone book. Every website has a number (like a phone number) and a name. Could you imagine the confusion if the wrong phone number was published with a person’s name? Well, this sometimes happens in the web and even a little mismatch means your site looks like it is down (even when it may not be.) The good thing is, you don’t have to really understand DNS, just use this tool to see if you have problems.
First and foremost, DNSSTuff allows you to quickly see all of the information related to the DNS (Domain Name Service) for your website. DNS is the Internet’s phone book and DNS records maintain a directory of domain names and translate them to IP addresses. While some of their tools require a paid account, they offer a free trial to test all their features.
Pingdom has a free Website Speed Test to analyze the load speed of your website and provides recommendations on how to make it faster. Page load speed is how fast does your website fully appear for your visitor. To put it another way, page load time is the time it takes from when someone clicks that link to your website in a Google search until it fully appears in their web browser.
Since no one wants to wait around for a slow loading web page, a faster loading website is better. Pingdom offers both a free and a paid service but the details from their free service are very helpful when it comes to identifying problem areas. Especially helpful is the information on the number of requests, the page load time and size of various files. All of which can impact your page load speed.
3. Google Developers PageSpeed Insights
Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a quick tool for analyzing your website’s performance on both desktop and mobile devices. Specifically, the tool looks at how your images are being presented and how different parts of your website are being displayed. Since we want our website visitors to enjoy their time on our website, we need to make sure that it looks perfect on both desktop and mobile devices.
Using a simple scoring system, Google makes recommendations based upon their analysis. The tool also provides easy to follow recommendations for each potential optimization.
GTmetrix generates a report that will show you a complete history of the website’s loading speeds, along with a detailed report with suggested ways to improve your website performance. One little caveat is that this process can get a little detailed and geeky depending on the recommendations. One nice thing is that GTmetrix gives you an explanation of each issue and suggestions on how to fix. You can often Google how to fix the error but if you are unsure of how to fix it, you might want to look at hiring someone or just skipping that recommendation.
YSlow is a browser plugin that provides a series of tests that looks at different aspects of a website based on Yahoo’s guidelines for web developers.
BONUS TIP: Find the right web host!
The final tip that will help you is to find the right website hosting provider. There are many different options available to you. Do not settle for the cheapest solution as this can often lead to problems. Ask for recommendations, talk to others about what they use and simply do your homework! In the end, we moved www.coolcatteacher.com to SiteGround and within a few hours, the website performance and stability improved significantly.
Dr. Jim Beeghley is an educational technologist, a blogger, education consultant, and keynote speaker. He specializes in helping educators improve their personal online brand by helping them create websites and enhance their social media presence. You can find him online at http://www.jimbeeghley.com or follow him on Twitter @beeghleytech