Website Optimization Measures, Part IV
Post from May 5, 2008 (↻ August 10, 2021), filed under Web Development.
This and many other posts are also available as a pretty, well-behaved ebook: On Web Development. And speaking of which, here’s a short treatise just about managing the quality of websites: The Little Book of Website Quality Control.
Once again, though already covering a few weeks of various improvements. Some have been implemented in Bremen, others in Zurich, all on some of my sites. Enjoy additional optimization tips, this time touching typography, usability, SEO, and performance.
Applying the typographic scale. Thanks to Mark Boulton I went for another typography update by carefully adjusting the font sizes in my projects, and it is Mark who can explain best what the benefit of addressing the typographic scale is:
Figure: Typographic scale. (Copyright Mark Boulton.)
So, what’s so special about these sizes? Well, because this scale of sizes has been used for centuries, if set correctly, type set in this scale will appear more pleasing to the eye and therefore more legible.
Revising “title” elements, consistently putting the site name last. One might consider it a usability, SEO, or “common sense” measure that page titles should describe the content of the page first, then reveal the site’s title—the content is what counts, and the first words are important to illustrate what’s truly going on in the document in question. While I have been applying this method for ages, there still were a few “general” pages that featured the site name first, then described the content. This has been fixed.
Example: “Archive for 2008 – Jens Meiert” instead of “Jens Meiert – Archive for 2008”, (in this case) following a convention to assemble the page title out of the
h1headings, in this order.
Using a content delivery network. Since you probably noticed this measure in a recent tip I won’t repeat what I wrote there. Using a CDN is a nice exercise, even though it’s a large, wide-spread audience that makes them impactful; other performance measures can be more important.
Enabling file compression. Some of you might have heard of my compression tests, too, as I recently enabled compression of HTML files, style sheets, and scripts by adding the following line to my projects’ root .htaccess files (all on Apache 2 machines):
Be aware though that some providers do not allow use of
AddOutputFilterByTypeor the corresponding server module, respectively (which might result in an internal server error), that this directive is available in Apache 2.0.33 and later (but deprecated in Apache 2.1…), that you better make sure that your server not just applies compression but also returns a
Vary: Accept-Encodingheader (to avoid proxy problems), and that I lazy guy will write about compression (and alternatives to
AddOutputFilterByType) in more detail at a later point.
Less and more incomplete information than usual, but please keep in mind that this series of posts has rather to be seen as a loose log of measures I apply to my sites than a comprehensive guide for more quality of other sites.
This is a part of an open article series. Check out some of the other posts!
I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering manager and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to the W3C and the WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. Other than that, I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
If you have questions or suggestions about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message.
On May 5, 2008, 22:41 CEST, Jens Nedal said:
Part IV has been the most interesting until now. I guess neither of those 4 points are actually used widespread, but should.
I would also add minimizing of external scripts. Also the Yahoo!’s analysis of what slows and speeds your site loading can be a useful read here, since this lead to the YSlow extension for Firefox.
It is interesting to see that there is alot more that needs to be done to make a site accessible, not only in readability, but also concerning speed of information delivery and consistent information delivery.
On May 7, 2008, 20:35 CEST, Duluoz said:
Revising “title” elements, consistenly putting the site name last.
I’ve always thought of a page as though its a subset or a chapter of a book where you’d list the title of the book, then the chapter, then the page, etc. But you are absolutely right in what you’re saying in terms of SEO and I have been thinking about this all wrong. It never crossed my mind to put the page title first before the site title, but it makes perfect sense when you’re looking through search results. How this simple concept has eluded me all these years is alarming. Thanks! 😉
Nice idea about the title element being composed according to a simple convention of reversing h2 and h1. I like that and will probably use it. Even if things get changed later it is an easy rule to follow and will help for sites with a lot of pages.
assemble the page title out of the h2 and h1 headings, in this exact order.
Some would argue that the name of your site should only be a h1 on the home page and that on internal pages, the page title should be the h1 with the site title dropped back to something else (usually a paragraph or div so as to not interfere with the hierarchy of heading tags).
I am very interested in your upcoming article about compression.
My provider does not offer mod_gzip at all, and I’ve been trying to create a php-based “poor man’s” gzip without success.
My main stumble points were that a php-based compression does not work with web-based services who spider the page (e.g. a keyword density tool), broke in IE7 and did not allow for my photo galleries using parameters in the url (e.g. …index.html?photo=2).
I wonder if you could cover this aspect as well, ie. what can I do if my provider does not provide.
Have a look at the most popular posts, possibly including:
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Perhaps my most comprehensive book: The Web Development Glossary (2020). With explanations and definitions for literally thousands of terms from Web Development and related fields, building on Wikipedia as well as the MDN Web Docs. Available at Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.