How Digital Creatives Can Leverage Technology

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Digital Creative Relies on Understanding Technology

This post starts with an answer to a question business people frequently ask me: What exactly is Page Speed? The reason is because Page Speed is a good proxy for site performance, and one that relies 100% on technical optimization. For Creatives and Designers, what follows might be a helpful insight into how to leverage technology to get your ideas from site to user more efficiently. Equally Developers, who are increasingly taking the lead in building apps and interfaces, might find insights into what happens on the client and UX useful.

Page Speed is not just the time it takes a page to load on the browser. For Gooogle, there are dozens of speed-related performances which do not take place on the browser at all but which are just as important — arguably more important. The key categories are 1. the time it takes for the browser to connect to the site. 2. the time it takes the server to assemble the page components before sending them. 3. The time in transit (over the network). 4. the time it takes for the page to start rendering on the browser. 5. The time it takes for a full page 1st load. 6. the time it takes for a 2nd load.

Optimizing for page speed is a collaborative effort between back- and front -end developers, IT and Webmasters. But Business and marketing people have a key role too.

A site carries product or service lines, but also 3rd party content, data feeds, includes, social buttons, etc. All of this can slow down page load time by requiring multiple round trips to servers to fully load the files that make up the pages. Thinking about where and how to include content could have a big impact on site speed. Are those 73 files with 14 loaded from 9 external domains and lots of JS at the top really important for the home page? If so, that will have an impact on speed — and the UX. But, there are ways to reduce the number of files without eliminating any, to reduce file size without loosing content, and to order files for maximum efficiency. Do resources with static content need query strings? Are some apps putting too much execution load on the browser and would the UX be better with the logic on the server? In case you’re wondering, Google looks at all of them, and a whole lot more besides, and factors it all into your search rankings.

The digital functionality a user experiences is result of 2 things. One, what happens on the client, the user interface (UI) itself. And 2, the servers and platforms (and networks) that deliver the content to the interface. Work with their limitations as well as their upsides, and you’ll improve your UX.

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