This post brought to you by the letter “D” and the number “7”. D is for Dan who’s an almost thirty web developer and blogger hailing from the Great North and 7 for the number of paragraphs you will be subjected you to.

Let’s face it… all the stuff you heard about setting up your own website being difficult was not true. Most blog owners are not tech-savvy people and everyone including your grandmother has a website now. My websites have evolved over time and transitioned through various blogging platforms giving me a taste of what options everyone has when they choose to put up a site. One of the things I’ve learned is that while it’s nice to have all the newest and coolest widgets, plugins and advertisements on your website you have to keep in mind that the more fancy things you add the more that has to load for every viewer who comes to visit. The key thing to having a website is to keep it running smoothly and provide readers with a pleasant experience.

For every widget that you add to your website you are adding one more call to an external website every time your page loads. You must also remember that if one of these external websites is experiencing problems it will directly affect the loading time of your own website. A perfect example of this would be any blogger who uses a twitter plugin to display their tweets or whatever they’re called (I do not use twitter). I do know however that the twitter website experiences above average downtime.

I placed twitter on a client’s website and he then asked why his website would no longer load and sure enough the broken website corresponded with a twitter “maintenance” message on their website. Removing the plugin brought back the website. Now

if you have 15 plugins on your website all relying on similar connections it can drastically slow down your website.

A great tool for evaluating your website’s loading speed is gomez. Gomez will measure the number of connections your website makes and using a bar graph it will show you how long each connection lasted. If you are experiencing weird load times or partial loads drop your URL into the form and choose a city to run the test from and let it do its magic.

If you are a blogger then you most likely surf social networks and read other blogs. Put yourself in a reader’s perspective when looking at your own website. Think about the things that bother you when you read other sites and see if you can spot them on your own. I’m sure you’ve all come across sites that partially load, or crawl to the screen in bits and pieces. In most cases you’ve either finished the article before the site finishes loading or move on to the next because it took too long.

Keeping your readers on your site is important and with the speed of the internet you only have a few seconds to make that impression so keep your content free from clutter. The first thing people see when they arrive on your page is your site and its content. Advertisements should blend in with their surroundings. Avoid tricking your readers into clicking ads. It is sneaky and only interferes with a nice seamless browsing experience.

In my opinion the last thing you should keep in mind is to be personal. I know for me at least as a blogger and reader, sites that give off a feeling that somebody is behind the wheel makes me feel more comfortable. Too many people put their sites on auto-pilot. If you are going to take the time to read someone’s blog the least they can do is acknowledge and reply. Make sure you install subscribe-to-comments which enables yor readers to be notified after they’ve left their opinion and gone home. With so many sites out there its hard to keep track of everything you comment on and having a reminder emailed is a great touch in retaining your readers.

Return to the sites you’ve visited and continue to comment. It is the bain of your existence as a web surfer and will keep people coming back for more. Refer to Alex’s Commentluv post for a great tutorial on commenting techniques.

Serial-Box has been Dan’s stomping ground and online home for nearly two years. It began with his obsession for true crime and grew into something more. Some of the notable topics discussed are the wrongful convictions of innocent people, men and women who’ve been sentenced to life imprisonment or death for crimes they didn’t commit. He is a web developer located in Toronto, Canada and spends his free time glued to his laptop and always learning new things. He won’t stop until he hits the end of the internet.