Managing Your SLA: Why You Need to be Doing This

If you run a website, then you probably know how important it is for it to be online all the time (or at least as much as possible). You really need to be aware of how much your site is up, and how much your site is down. These metrics are often referred to as uptime and downtime. If you are hosting your website with another company or renting server space, you most likely have a service level agreement with the company that you’re renting space from. A service level agreement, or SLA, is an agreement on the amount of time that your website will be online or accessible by visitors. You need to keep in mind that an SLA may not be enforceable if you can’t prove that your website was up or down for a certain amount of time, and this won’t happen unless you have a way of keeping track of the uptime and downtime.

One of the best ways to do this is to use a third-party solution in order to keep track of this. If you’re working with a company that does external monitoring, they can ping your server at a specified interval and find out whether it’s online or not, and then save this information. You could opt to ping your sever at one minute intervals, or 30 minute intervals or more. Keep in mind that shorter intervals are usually more expensive because they are using more server resources for the company that’s providing the checking. Once you have this information for a given month, you can approach your web host and show them how much your site was up, and how much your site was down for a given period of time. For example, Dotcom Monitor offers a similar service that can be found here. Pingdom also offers a service that can be found here. Finally, Manage Engine offers a service that can be found here. These are just a few examples of companies that offer uptime/downtime management.

Upon seeing this information, your web host may opt to credit you or do something else, depending upon what the terms of your SLA dictate. And of course, if the site wasn’t down very much or exceeded the terms of the SLA, then your web host usually doesn’t need to do anything because they were providing the service within the specified terms. The only time that an SLA is really an issue is when your website is down more than it should be, and that’s when you need to talk to your web host about it. Keep in mind that they may not be eager to credit you money for service that was substandard, so you need to make sure that you have some type of proof.

Web Based Application Development

Internet, web business and web marketing is growing and with this, the need for web based applications is increasing. Numerous marketers and investors forge ahead in their race to devise innovative and newer techniques and web applications for facilitating promotion and the process. Many developers use an internal process to create new applications, while others use an external process. Here are the six basic stages of web based application development –

1. Conceptualization – This is the first stage of all application’s development. The programmers decide what they want an application to do before they can work on it. This stage involves detailing the application’s functionality, key impressions for style and visuals and other planning. Unless the programmers are sure of what they want and have a solid blueprint, the development remains in this stage.

2. Research – After deciding what the application will do, the company researches on it to decide whether the application should be developed or not. You will be surprised to know that there are many conceptualized applications but very few see the light of the day. The research is done to decide if the application will yield the desired results. Therefore, researchers look into the target market and competing applications. They look into the type of resources that the company has to use for creating the application. The main factor to consider here is how relevant the application will be in the web world.

3. Planning – The next stage is planning. This stage involves raising queries such as feature existence, usage of script language and others. Jobs are allocated and significant decisions are made to take the planning to the next level.

4. Development – This is also the ‘implementation’ stage when the developers and programmers get together for creating the program’s working copy. Entities, coding procedures and data variables are established. The development team then prepares and hands over the document to the management where it is reviewed.

5. Stability – Basic tests are conducted for ensuring that application contains basic functionality. The tests determine the application’s functionality. All malicious content and bugs come to light during this final stage. They have to be removed and the application has to be re-tested before it can be marketed.

6. Testing Stages – After the basic version is tested, the application is extensively tested to account for all situations that can occur in a software program. The different phases of testing involve internal, beta testing and finally, the release of the application. The development team will make the necessary changes after each stage. One thing to keep in mind in the testing stages is that you should be monitoring your applications to ensure that they are functioning properly at all times. There are a number of services like Pingdom’s RUM monitoring (pingdom.com/RUM) and Dotcom-Monitor’s UserView (dotcom-monitor.com/web-application-monitoring-tools.aspx). There are also other companies and services that offer options to monitor applications too.

When the application is released, the update phase comes into play. The company keeps offering features or functionality via updates. The frequency of those updates may be necessitated by a number of things, such as security issues, bugs, and the addition of other features.

Tuning Up Your Website’s Page Load Times

Your website’s loading times directly influences the first impressions of your visitors and how likely search engines are to favorably rank its pages, while they indirectly influence factors that could hurt your website like an increased bounce rate.

Preventing these things form happening can be as simple as changing a few things on your web pages or saving your images using a different file format. Let’s explore some general things you can do to reduce your page load times.

1. Analyze Your Loading Times

Testing your website is the first step you should take. Free tools like Pingdom,  and Web Page Test are things that you can use. There are also a number of other companies that offer speed testing, both free and paid.

 

2. Optimize Your Images

Large files take longer to load than small ones when looking at file sizes.

To optimize your images, consider the following things:

  • Using GIF or JPEG compression. – The former is ideal for clipart and logos, while the latter is best for pictures and things with a large amount of detail or colors.
  • Compressing your images further. – GIF, JPEG and PNG formats allow you to choose how much data gets compressed, so consider reducing the file size by making them more compressed.

3. Use Appropriate Image Sizes

Images with smaller rendered dimensions may not necessarily be smaller when it comes to file size. Optimize your images so that the dimensions of your image are appropriate for your web page.

You can utilize CSS3 to replace images using the @media selector for devices and computers with smaller resolutions and limited bandwidth.

4. Place JavaScript and CSS Resources in External Files
When you use external files, most browsers tend to cache the data so that they don’t need to continuously load it with each new page. For things that stay static, such as stylesheets and JavaScript, this can be key in reducing your overall website load times.

5. Minimize the Number of HTTP Requests on a Page
Five stylesheets of equal size will take longer to download than having those five stylesheets merged together. This is a side effect of how HTTP requests work, which means that minimizing the number of HTTP requests made while loading your website will dramatically reduce load times.

6. Cache Your Pages

If you use a dynamic page loading system or a content management system, then caching your pages may help you reduce load times.

Caching reduces load times, because it temporarily writes dynamic pages to a static HTML file until the next time that page changes or the cache expires.

Reducing Your Load Times Further

The tips given in this are only meant to deal with the most influential reasons as to why your website’s page load times may be slow. There are still website-specific things, which includes your host and using content delivery networks, that can further reduce your loading times.