Faster Speed

How often do you give up waiting for a web page to open? The heavy use of images can be part of the problem.

Visitors to your website don’t care what format your images are in, they only care that they are viewable and downloaded in a timely fashion (even on slower connections). To accomplish this, images should be optimized for both speed and usability.

Firstly the choice of image type needs to be considered and by this I mean when to use a JPEG and when to use a PNG.

Here is a short explanation of the reasons why you would use different formats:

JPEG format is a lossy compressed file format. This makes it useful for storing photographs at a smaller size. JPEG is a common choice for use on the Web because it is compressed. For storing line drawings, text, and iconic graphics at a smaller file size, PNG's are a better choice because they are lossless.

JPEGs are for photographs and realistic images. PNGs are for line art, text-heavy images, and images with few colours.

The following link shows very good examples with explanations.

Lossy or Lossless compression?

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) PNG (Portable Network Graphics)



Lossless compression means that as the file size is compressed, the picture quality remains the same - it does not get worse. Also, the file can be decompressed to its original quality.



Lossy compression permanently removes data.

You don't need to worry about the technical reasons why designers use different types of images in your website but having some knowledge will help you understand one of the reasons why your website may be a tad slow in loading.

Keep an eye on your SEO reports for individual pages and look at upload speeds on a regular basis,  chat to your designer about reducing the size of images. It all helps to make a better, faster experience for your audience.

(includes extracts sourced from the web)

SQL data? What’s that all about?

Databases and SQL Servers are terms that are very technical, yet most major business software systems rely upon professional data storage.

This means that when things go slow or simply do not work, technical people can seem to pass responsibility between different technical areas – often between different technical teams.

This article tries to bring the idea of databases and how they connect to the network and the end software into more “human talk”.


A reasonable analogy for this model is that the data can be viewed as books stored within a library (the database). The library is closed and so only a librarian (the SQL Server) may access and manipulate the books (data) directly.

Each user of the software package can be considered to be a researcher sitting at a desk needing to get information from books in the library. These users are not within the library but are in within rooms that are connected to the library by corridors (the network). Multi-user systems simply have multiple research rooms/desks and each makes independent requests to the librarian (SQL Server) for information and instructs the librarian on how to update the information held within the books of the library. The librarian, however, determines the exact processes involved within updates and requests.

With hosted systems the researchers (users) do not reside within the same building as the library. This means they do not have access along the same corridors (networks), so “super-researchers” exist along the network corridor called Thin-Client. Each of these super-researchers gather and make requests to the librarian and feed out the information back to the actual researchers (users) via a video link (another network), responding to requests back from the actual researchers. Each super-researcher (Thin Client Server) handles dozens of actual researchers (users).


As can be seen from this analogy it is important that all elements work together correctly and any issues that exist along the route between the Library and the actual Researcher, for example a blockage in the corridors (network) will cause severe problems. This network includes the internet, which can have severe blockages (slow connections).

It is often a difficult concept for people to understand, but putting the concepts back to paper-based approaches hopefully makes things a little bit easier.

Stay safe – counter the internet threat

Computer and information security is critical in the modern world. Cyber Crime is now a multi-billion pound “industry” and is something that everyone that uses IT should be aware of.

The problem is that companies try and make computers and related hardware simple to use. This is excellent for those that have (or desire) little knowledge of IT, but it means that people are often ignorant of how computers can be exploited and information “hacked”.

admin-ajax-2Most people have a broadband router at home. They acquire the router and simply plug it in, gaining internet access but are you aware that the administration password needs to be changed? Are you aware that there are web sites that will list the default administration passwords for most major routers on the market? Anyone that can gain access to your router as an administrator can make several changes that can hack your systems without you even knowing!

As an example, your router directs you to your on-line banking and other secure on-line services. A hacked router may direct you via a hacking site – most of the time nothing is different and the site simply sends you onto your expected web site, but occasionally it will send you to a spoof site that looks like the site that you were expecting. If you enter your logon and password then the hackers have your account details. Follow this with a simple “connection error” message and then pass you back to the real site. You will not know that your details have been hacked until after they are used.

There are many examples of how computer systems can be compromised and it is worth taking time to protect yourself. A simple, yet robust, scheme is Cyber Essentials.


Cyber Essentials is an IT industry scheme backed by the UK government. It covers five areas of security and also has the option to gain certification via Cyber Essentials Plus.

The five areas are:

  1. Boundary firewalls and internet gateways – these are devices designed to prevent unauthorised access to or from private networks, but good setup of these devices either in hardware or software form is important for them to be fully effective.
  2. Secure configuration – ensuring that systems are configured in the most secure way for the needs of the organisation.
  3. Access control – Ensuring only those who should have access to systems to have access and at the appropriate level.
  4. Malware protection – ensuring that virus and malware protection is installed and is it up to date.
  5. Patch management – ensuring the latest supported version of applications is used and all the necessary patches supplied by the vendor been applied.

This can seem complex and is some areas it can be, but it can be summarised in general terms as:

  • Make sure that your router is secure and that the firewall within it (i.e. the rules for communication) only allows essential services to have access. Open firewall connections can leave “back doors” open that can be attacked at any time from the internet.
  • Do not run or install software that you do not need.
  • Make sure that all passwords are strong – at least 8 characters in length and a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Do not use common words or words and numbers associated with you. Change your password regularly – at least two or three times per year.
  • Remove any “guest” or “default” accounts from all software and computers.
  • If a user leaves or no longer requires access then remove their account.
  • Install Antivirus Software and allow it to automatically update itself. Also allow it to automatically scan your computer. Commercial Antivirus is better than free Antivirus.
  • Make sure that all of your software – including Windows itself – is kept up to date. Hackers exploit known gaps in software.

There is more that can be done very simply and it is worth reading the Cyber Essentials documentation or seeking advice.


Oi! What are you looking at? … or how to find out who is looking at your web page

Tracking your internet presence is one of the most important jobs to do in a business. Without online tracking of all your social media and websites you may not be able to fully understand your target market. With Google Analytics and Social Media tracking it can never be simpler to see what is happening with your social media technology.

Here are the main features of Google Analytics which tracks your website and Facebook Insights along with Twitter Analytics:

Google logo_lockup_analytics_icon_vertical_black_2xGoogle Analytics

Google Analytics tracks everything to do with the website. This includes location of the viewer, what web browser they are using and what operating system. This is a very powerful tool and tells you basically everything about who is viewing your site and how they got there. There is also a section which lets you create custom reports of all your tracking statistics. This is very good for telling you where people are spending most of their time on your site.

You can see more advanced statistics such as their IP address, which internet provider they are using and what type of connection is being used to get onto the internet. You can see which organisation is viewing the website and how they got there; for example, was it a direct URL entry or did they search through Google?

FB-fLogo-Blue-broadcast-2Facebook Insights

Facebook Insights tracks your Facebook Business page. It is not so in-depth; it shows the page views, page likes and post engagements in that week. You can see where the people are in the world who liked your page and posts. You can also see which city they are from. It has individual data for each post you make public. It tells you who you shared it with, how much organic and paid views received and how many post clicks. And that is practically it!

Twitter_Logo_BlueTwitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics tracks the activity on your Twitter page and is basically the same as Facebook Insights – just for Twitter. It tells you about how many tweets you have tweeted, how many visits your profile has, how many mentions you have and the number of followers. It also tells you what your top tweet is and your top mention. It gives you month by month summaries about how good or bad your month was regarding followers, tweets etc.


As you can see, using these tools with your company website you can track and analyse your audience; Useful information for  your marketing and guiding your marketing strategy to generate more business.

Why not give us a call to see how we can help you implement them on your website?

Helpfully unhelpful help from the internet…

Occasionally, there are times when we don’t know the answer to something straightaway, and that is when the internet can be a potentially useful tool to search for information. Sometime those answers are not helpful but paradoxical:

Trying to help a customer get the on-screen keyboard (OSK) to appear on their generic Windows 8.1  tablet device the official line from Microsoft on getting the OSK to appear is as follows:

  1. swipe in from the right-side of the screen and press search
  2. type “on-screen keyboard” into the search box

… point 2 is slightly problematic when there isn’t an on-screen keyboard available to type into the search box.