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12Aug2017

Joomla maintenance strategy

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999 hits Updated: 16 January 2018

What things do you have to do to maintain a Joomla website?

The four skills for highly-effective websites

What are the things … to be done to maintain Joomla website?forum user, Joomla Forum, 10-Aug-2017

The question of “website maintenance” (and Joomla website maintenance, in par­ti­cular) is a fairly simple one and, I suppose, anyone could scribble a few notes on a scrap of paper or point to articles posted online that itemise the first things coming to mind: security, backups, regular updates, etc.—the “usual” household chores.  Everyone has their own routine and there’s a general consensus about what matters should receive the highest priority.  However, when you really think about the subject seriously, most of us don’t plan for future-proofing our sites so that they can be maintained with relatively little effort.  Perhaps some projects commence that way but they evolve into a tangled web of complexity with internal dependencies that we wish, in hindsight, we hadn’t done.  The bottom-line is that no-one likes house­work; most of us don’t even enjoy any routine work.

In this article I will present the “four skills” strategy for highly-effective websites.  So, before you sharpen your pencils and take notes—or frame a printed copy of the article and place it on your desk—we will look at the big picture:  what do you re­quire—what skills do you require—to prepare a website effectively in order to maintain it efficiently?

02Aug2017

Site performance—caching and file aggregation—is it worth it?

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768 hits Updated: 10 January 2018

Disable Joomla’s cache features

CSS/Javascript file aggregation: who needs it?

I wrote previously about the general theory of website caching.  There are circumstances when site caching can be useful and there are other circumstances—especially when people are attempting to diagnose, analyse and solve operational issues—when caching can become a headache.  As a general point, caching can be useful where “speed”—as far as the end user is concerned—is the number one criterion.

Similarly, when people turn to Google for recommendations on ways to “improve” [the end user perception of] performance, we find suggestions about using file aggregation, minification or obfuscation methods.  These are not related to caching but they are involved in overall “site performance” for want of a better description.

The bottom-line is that website caching, data compression and file aggregation/minification/obfuscation may help—and there is empirical evidence to support that contention—but they add administration overheads and, ultimately, their presence may not be beneficial—and there is a body of anecdotal evidence to support this opinion.  The problems caused by caching et al are the subjects of thousands of discussions in online technical forums; in most cases these problems are quickly and effortlessly resolved by disabling or removing those facilities.  This article provides information on the common techniques that people employ in Joomla and how to disable such features that they’ve (perhaps unwittingly) enabled or installed.

01Jan2017

The excuses people make …

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1494 hits Updated: 17 January 2018

Why people don’t update Joomla

Every website is a business in some form or another[1] and how you manage your website determines the success or otherwise of your business.  If you spend time cultivating your website, investing in developing new content, new software and general maintenance, your customers—the people who visit your site—will notice the difference and will return again.  If you treat your site like a “field of dreams”—if you expect your business to flourish simply because you created a website (and that was the total extent of your time and energy)—then you’re in for a wake-up call.

Every website is a business in some form or another and the first order of business is to cover your operating expenses.  You can (a) charge people to pay to view your site, (b) encourage people to donate their time and/or money to help with your running costs and/or (c) obtain revenue via in-site advertising.  The success of your business depends on how well others enjoy doing business with you, whether they’ll visit your site, buy your products or refer others to your site and do the same and, hopefully, give you some profit at the end of the day.  This website is no different.  There are a couple of advertisements that appear on the pages—I certainly appreciate the tiny click-rate revenue they give me—but, I hope, they’re not too invasive.  How a site owner designs their site and runs their business is entirely up to them, of course; I’m not suggesting otherwise.

There are three kinds of people in this world:  those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.  The success of your business is in your hands and is dependent on the kind of person you are.  Are you an entrepreneur, a passive observer or a victim of circumstances?

The one constant we can rely upon is that everything changes and, depending on the type of person you are, people manufacture a variety of excuses to rationalise why they’re unable to deal with inevitable change—the blame game.  This article will help you identify whether you’re at risk of playing the blame game and how to rid yourself from the burden of using outdated, unsupported and vulnerable software.

06Dec2016

To cache or not to cache?

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942 hits Updated: 07 December 2016

What is web caching?

Types of caches

Caching:  bene­fits and dis­ad­van­tages

There are many myths about caching—for example, some people believe that HTTPS does not cache web pages—but there’s a lot of ignorance about how to use caching effectively.  This article doesn’t have all the answers but it may help people learn about web caching and some of the benefits, costs and risks associated with how you use it.

A web cache (or HTTP cache) is an information technology for the temporary storage of web documents, such as HTML pages and images, to reduce bandwidth usage, server load and perceived lag.[1]  Because generating web content over the internet is both slow and expensive and, in today’s fast-paced and time-constrained world, most people’s attention span barely survives one or two seconds, one of the main purposes of caching is to improve the user experience.  Large responses for information can involve many roundtrips between the client and server which delays when they are available and when the browser can process them, and also incur data costs for the visitor.  In other words, caching helps reduce the cost involved between when the user clicks a mouse/presses a key/taps a screen and when an “event” (such as displaying a new web page) occurs.

The ability to cache and reuse previously fetched resources is a critical part of optimising for performance.  The wrong use of caching, on the other hand, can also be counter-productive as we shall discuss.

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