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TheReviewer

Web Design Best Practices For Your Next Website Project

Web Design Best Practices For Your Next Website Project

What causes the large discrepancy between what some WordPress developers charge compared to others? Answering this question requires consideration for the reason behind why you want a website in the first place.

Some developers focus on the literal final product: the combination of code that results in a pleasant enough website design.

But developers with marketing savvy concern themselves with more than just building something that looks nice. They act as consultants to clients who are looking to accomplish specific goals with their websites.

Web design is strictly connected to your business goals

With this in mind, hiring someone to build a website who doesn’t seem interested in/doesn’t ask questions about your end goals is a red flag. It’s important to call out the fact that even the most beautiful web design may not be ideal when it comes to getting visitors to convert into customers.

That said, 94% of people judge your credibility based on your website’s design.

So, instead, you need to focus on using your design to offer the ideal user experience. You must make it easy for visitors to find the information they sought by visiting your website in the first place while guiding them towards goal conversion activities.

These web design best practices focus on the intersection between creating a beautiful website and one that serves your business.

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The Complete Guide to WordPress Widgets (The What, The How, and Code Snippets)

The Complete Guide to WordPress Widgets (The What, The How, and Code Snippets)

WordPress widgets are incredibly useful. They let you add all kinds of extra content to your website outside the body of the post or page itself, encouraging users to get information, follow links, or take action.

In this post, I’m going to show you everything you need to know about WordPress widgets. How to add them to your site, how to create widget areas to put them in, how to install plugins that give you more of them, how to code your own widgets, and lots more.

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How to Start a WordPress Agency (2020 Edition)

How to Start a WordPress Agency (2020 Edition)

Listen to enough origin stories of successful WordPress agencies and you’ll notice they sound eerily similar:

The founders were working as freelance designers or developers, building websites while simultaneously running their small (or solo) businesses. Inevitably, they started to look around and wonder if there were opportunities they were missing out on — ones that would make their jobs easier, their lives more fulfilling, and their businesses more profitable.

You may or may not be aware of this, but this is exactly where Kinsta’s founders started out. Mark, Anita, Peter, and Tom were running a web development business in 2013 that was a whole lot of work and not very rewarding.

Eventually, the Kinsta founders realized that what they were doing just wasn’t scalable or sustainable. And that’s a point that many WordPress freelancers and small business owners get to as well.

In order to change that narrative, you must be prepared to shift your company in a different direction. For Kinsta, that meant moving into managed WordPress hosting. For others, that may mean building a bustling WordPress agency. Your story is your own to shape and mold.

That said, whatever path you choose to go down, none of that growth will be possible without:

  • A team of dedicated experts
  • Buttoned-up processes and documentation
  • Automations and templates galore

That’s not to say that you don’t have these elements in place as a WordPress freelancer. But a WordPress agency requires you to take it to another level.

If you find yourself in a similar position where you’re feeling okay with the work you do but don’t feel as though you’re maximizing your impact or your profit, it could be time to turn your freelance business into a full-service agency.

In this guide to starting a WordPress agency, we’ll show you how to get an agency started and, later, how to scale it for greater success and sustainability.

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How to Choose the Right SMTP Port (Port 25, 587, 465, or 2525)

How to Choose the Right SMTP Port (Port 25, 587, 465, or 2525)

Struggling to find out the right SMTP port to use? Been there, done that!

If you’re using an email client like Apple Mail or Outlook to send emails, that email client probably also uses SMTP to upload your outgoing emails to your mail server (though those clients typically use other protocols like IMAP or POP3 to download incoming emails to the app).

Additionally, if you’re struggling with email deliverability on WordPress, one of the best ways to fix the problem is to use an SMTP sending service like SendGrid, Mailgun, or G Suite.

But if you try to set up SMTP with your email client or WordPress website, you’ll probably encounter the question of which SMTP port to use.

To help you choose the right SMTP port for your needs, we’re going to dig into everything SMTP port-related in this post.

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Everything You Need to Start a Podcast Using WordPress

Everything You Need to Start a Podcast Using WordPress

With industry advertising revenue forecasted to exceed $1B by 2021 and an estimated 62 million people listening to a podcast every week, the right time to start your WordPress podcast is now.

Combining WordPress’ customizable features with a solid podcast hosting plugin is the secret weapon pro podcasters use to save time and expand their brand.

Weekly podcast listening stats

With “searching the internet” as the preferred way for listeners to discover new podcasts, it’s nearly impossible to be included in those search results without a website.

In today’s blog post, we have plugin recommendations, set up tutorials, and more to get you up and running in no time with your WordPress podcast.

Ready to dig in? Let’s start!

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Causes, Effects, and How to Protect Your Site

Causes, Effects, and How to Protect Your Site

A DDoS attack is surprisingly easy to carry out and affects millions of websites worldwide every year, with the number of attacks rising.

Suffering DDoS attacks may seem like an inevitable side effect of being online; the more successful your site, the more likely it might seem that you’ll be the target of an attack at some point. But you can reduce the chances of a DDoS attack affecting your site.

You might be wondering: What is a DDoS attack? And how can I protect my site from them?

In this post, we’ll explain what DDoS attacks are, explore what might make your site vulnerable, and outline the ways you can reduce their probability and impact.

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How to Disable Comments in WordPress (And Why You Might Want To)

How to Disable Comments in WordPress (And Why You Might Want To)

The WordPress comments system can be a valuable feature. Letting visitors leave comments on your posts can increase engagement and provide various other benefits. At the same time, this isn’t functionality you’ll need or want on every website.

Fortunately, if you aren’t using them, it is possible to disable WordPress comments. Aside from removing an unneeded feature, this can be a smart way to reduce spam and speed up your WordPress website.

In this post, we’ll talk more about why you might want to disable comments in WordPress. Then, we’ll walk you through three quick and easy ways to do so.

Let’s get started!

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How to Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources on WordPress (CSS + JavaScript)

How to Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources on WordPress (CSS + JavaScript)

If you’ve ever run your WordPress site through Google PageSpeed Insights, Google has probably told you that you need to eliminate render-blocking resources on your WordPress site. In fact, that might be why you’re reading this very post right now.

That probably poses two questions in your mind:

  1. What are render-blocking resources in the first place?
  2. How can you eliminate render-blocking resources on WordPress?

In this post, we’re going to answer both questions for you. Here’s everything that we’ll cover in this post:

What Does “Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources” Mean?

In order to understand what render-blocking resources are and why they hurt your site’s load times, we need to start with a basic look at how a web browser renders a web page.

When a visitor lands on your site, their web browser basically starts at the top of your site’s code and reads down. Top-to-bottom, got it?

If in that process, it encounters a CSS or JavaScript file, it needs to stop “reading” while it waits to download and process that file. The time that it spends “paused” to download and parse those resources could be spent on something much more productive, like loading the part of your website’s content that’s immediately visible when someone lands on the page.

Let’s look at an extreme example to show why this can be an issue.

Let’s say that you have this cool JavaScript effect in your site’s footer. It’s powered by “coolfooter.js”, which is a script that’s referenced at the top of your site’s code (even though the effect is in the footer, so visitors won’t see it until they scroll to the footer).

So a very rough layout for your site’s code might be something like:

  • Header meta
  • Coolfooter.js
  • HTML for your above-the-fold content. This is all the content that a visitor sees right away (before they start interacting with the page)

And here’s why this is a problem:

When a visitor lands on your site, their browser starts reading from top-to-bottom. So before it can parse and render the HTML for the above-the-fold content on your site, it needs to wait to download and parse the coolfooter.js file.

End result? It takes longer to display the HTML for the above-the-fold content, which means that your visitors will perceive your site as being slower.

When Google tells you to eliminate render-blocking resources, it’s essentially saying, “hey, don’t load unnecessary resources at the top of your site’s code because it’s going to make it take longer for visitors’ browsers to download the visible part of your content”.

With the tips in this post, you’ll be able to wait to load certain CSS and JavaScript resources until the visible part of your page has already loaded.

What are Render-Blocking Resources?

When referring to render-blocking resources, we’re usually talking about:

It’s important to understand that not all CSS and JavaScript files are render-blocking.

For example, it’s important to load your critical CSS near the top, otherwise your visitors might experience what’s known as a flash of unstyled content (FOUC).

Are Images Render-Blocking Resources?

No, images are not render-blocking. It’s still important to optimize your images to reduce their file sizes, but you do not need to worry about optimizing the delivery path for your images.

How to Test If Your Website Has Render-Blocking Resources

To assess whether or not your WordPress site currently has render-blocking resources, you can use Google PageSpeed Insights.

All you do is enter the URL that you want to test. Then, if you have a problem with render-blocking resources, PageSpeed Insights will list each individual resource in the Eliminate render-blocking resources section under Opportunities:

The Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources message in PageSpeed Insights

How Do You Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to do this manually. We’ll talk about WordPress plugins that can help you eliminate render-blocking resources in the next section.

However, it is helpful to understand what these plugins are doing behind the scenes to eliminate render-blocking resources.

How to Eliminate Render-Blocking JavaScript

There a few different strategies to eliminate render-blocking JavaScript. We cover these in detail in our article on how to defer parsing JavaScript, but here are the main methods:

  • Async – lets the HTML parser (e.g. a visitor’s browser) download the JavaScript while still parsing the rest of the HTML. That is, it doesn’t completely stop parsing while the file downloads. However, it will pause the HTML parser to execute the script once it downloads.
  • Defer – lets the HTML parser download the JavaScript while parsing the rest of the HTML and waits to execute the script until the HTML parsing is finished.

This illustration from Growing with the Web does a great job of showing the difference:

JavaScript async vs defer

JavaScript async vs defer

The benefit of using defer is that your scripts are guaranteed to execute in the order that they appear in the code.

Async does not use this approach, which can sometimes cause issues if you apply async to all JavaScript resources because it can often break resources that are dependent on resources that appear earlier in the document. The most common problem async produces is broken jQuery resources that try to load before jquery.js has been added to the document.

How to Eliminate Render-Blocking CSS

Eliminating render-blocking CSS can be a little trickier because you have to be careful not to delay CSS that is needed to render above-the-fold content. The ideal arrangement is to:

  • Identify the styles that are required to render above-the-fold content and deliver those styles inline with the HTML.
  • Use the media attribute on the link elements that pull in CSS files to identify CSS resources that are conditional, that is, only needed for specific devices or situations.
  • Remaining CSS resources should be loaded asynchronously, a move that is typically done by adding them with deferred or asynchronous JavaScript.To be honest, we’re really getting in over our heads here, aren’t we? This is definitely frontend engineer territory. Which is great if you’re are a front-end engineer, but most of us aren’t. The good news is that this is an article about WordPress, and you can eliminate or at least significantly reduce the number of render-blocking JS and CSS resources affecting your site with the right plugin(s).

How to Eliminate Render-Blocking CSS and JavaScript Resources with WordPress Plugins

To demonstrate how to eliminate render-blocking resources on WordPress, we’ve set up a simple test site that includes render-blocking CSS and JavaScript and then we’ll take you through how to use two different plugin solutions to eliminate the render-blocking CSS and JavaScript:

  • Autoptimize + Async JavaScript (free)
  • WP Rocket (paid)

For reference, here’s what our test site looks like before optimizing CSS and JavaScript delivery:

The Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources message in PageSpeed Insights

The Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources message in PageSpeed Insights

If you’re testing the effectiveness of your changes with Google PageSpeed Insights, be aware that Google caches its results for several minutes. Essentially, this means that if you quickly…

  1. Test your unoptimized site
  2. Activate one of the plugins in this section
  3. Retest your site

…then you’ll still see the results for your unoptimized site until Google resets its cache. So make sure you wait a few minutes for Google to clear its cache before you think that the plugin isn’t working.

How to Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources with Autoptimize + Async JavaScript Plugin

Autoptimize and Async JavaScript are two separate free plugins from the same developer. Together, they help you optimize the delivery of both your CSS and JavaScript.

Once you’ve installed both plugins, go to Settings → Async JavaScript and:

  • Check the box to Enable Async JavaScript at the top.
  • Choose between Apply Async and Apply Defer in the Quick Settings box.
How to configure Async JavaScript plugin

How to configure Async JavaScript plugin

If the Async option causes problems on your site, we’d recommend trying Defer or excluding jQuery, which the plugin gives you an option for.

Once you’ve set up the Async JavaScript plugin, go to Settings → Autoptimize and:

  • Check the box to Optimize JavaScript Code
  • Check the box to Optimize CSS Code
How to configure Autoptimize plugin

How to configure Autoptimize plugin

If you’re an advanced user, you can play around with the additional JavaScript and CSS optimization settings, but most sites will be fine with the defaults.

After configuring both Autoptimize and Async JavaScript, our test site passed PageSpeed Insights’ “Eliminate render-blocking resources” audit:

PageSpeed Insights results w/ Autoptimize and Async JavaScript

PageSpeed Insights results w/ Autoptimize and Async JavaScript

If you wanted to eliminate even more of those files, you could further use Autoptimize to manually inline your critical CSS. This requires some development knowledge, though, so it’s not something non-developers should try.

You can also use the plugins separately if preferred. But given that both plugins come from the same developer and are built to play nice with each other, the best approach for most sites is to combine them.

How to Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources with WP Rocket

WP Rocket is a popular premium WordPress performance and caching plugin.

Normally, we don’t allow caching plugins on WordPress sites hosted at Kinsta because we already handle caching for you at a server level via the speedy Nginx FastCGI cache.

However, WP Rocket has a special integration with Kinsta that lets WP Rocket play nice with your Kinsta caching. That’s great because WP Rocket does a lot more for WordPress performance than just caching, including helping you eliminate render-blocking CSS and JavaScript resources on your WordPress site.

Once you install and activate WP Rocket, go to the File Optimization tab. Then, enable these two options:

  • Optimize CSS delivery under the CSS Files section
  • Load JavaScript deferred under the JavaScript files section. You can experiment with turning the Safe Mode for jQuery off. But if you notice problems on the front-end of your site, you’ll want to re-enable safe mode for jQuery as it’s the likely culprit.
How to configure WP Rocket

How to configure WP Rocket

After activating these two features, our test site also passed the “eliminate render-blocking resources” audit in PageSpeed Insights. WP Rocket also managed to eliminate more render-blocking resources than the Autoptimize/Async JavaScript setup:

PageSpeed Insights results w/ WP Rocket

PageSpeed Insights results w/ WP Rocket

And that’s how to eliminate render-blocking resources on your WordPress website!



Want to get rid of render-blocking resources in #WordPress? It’s super easy with the right plugins… Check out how to tweak their settings and make your site faster! ⚙️🏃‍♀️

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Summary

Render-blocking resources slow down the perceived page load times of your WordPress site by forcing visitors’ browsers to delay rendering above-the-fold content while the browser downloads files that aren’t needed right away.

To help visitors load the visible portion of your page more quickly, you should delay loading resources that aren’t immediately required.

To eliminate render-blocking resources on WordPress, you can use off-the-rack plugins.

For a free solution, you can use the combination of Autoptimize and Async JavaScript, two plugins from the same developer.

If you’re willing to pay, you can use WP Rocket, which offers a special integration with Kinsta and can help with lots of other WordPress performance tweaks.

Do you have any additional questions about how to eliminate render-blocking resources on WordPress? Let us know in the comments!

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7 Key Principles of SaaS Marketing (With Formulas, Examples, and Tools)

7 Key Principles of SaaS Marketing (With Formulas, Examples, and Tools)

Software-as-a-service startups have become a staple of the new cloud-based economy. There are an estimated 10,000 private SaaS companies, and 50 publicly traded giants with a total market cap of over $225 billion.

10 Largest SaaS Companies

And what do these companies have in common? They leveraged what is usually referred to as SaaS marketing.

But what’s SaaS marketing? What do you need to measure to succeed and what channels perform better than others to sell your SaaS product?

Let’s try to answer these (and more questions) with this blog post. Ready? Let’s dive in!



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77 Proven Tactics to Drive Traffic to Your Website in 2020 & Beyond

77 Proven Tactics to Drive Traffic to Your Website in 2020 & Beyond

So you’ve got your site all set up, but you are unsure how to drive traffic to your website?

Don’t worry, you are not alone. With so much written about improving traffic, it’s hard to separate what will and won’t work for you.

This article does not list every single method of increasing traffic. Instead, it lists the proven tactics that work.

Sound good?

How to Drive Traffic to Your Website

To make it easier, we’ve split the tactics into the following categories: