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Is your website slowing you down?

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We live in a fast-paced world, we demand everything now; fast food, fast news and next day delivery. And we expect to be able to order all these things anywhere; on mobile, on tablet or any other device with an internet connection come to think of it. Partly because we have busy lives with little downtime and partly because improvements in technology have spoilt us. Instant gratification is a buzzword of the 2010s.

Online speed is a hotly debated topic, from broadband speeds to the importance of page loading time for search engine optimisation, where, it seems, a couple of seconds can make all the difference.

Test your speed

First thing’s first, test your desktop and mobile page speed with Google’s PageSpeed tool. The closer to 100 your score is, the better. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get a perfect score though, even ‘google.co.uk’ only gets 96/100! The tool will also give you some recommendations to improve your site’s performance.

The speed of your site and UX

According to Tony Haile, an average visitor will spend less than 15 seconds actively on a page. That’s just 15 seconds to capture their attention, create interest and persuade them to click. And that’s if they even make it on to your website.

Page loading time is a huge contributing factor to page abandonment and crucial in keeping visitors’ attention on your site. Simply put, slow page loading will turn off potential customers. It seems users have even less patience when it comes to mobile browsing, with most participants in a Kissmetrics survey saying they only wait 6-10 seconds before abandoning a page.

47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less

40% will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load

52% of online shoppers’ state that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty.

A one second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year

Alongside a multitude of factors including page relevance, domain age and number of inbound links, page loading time is recognised as key in google search rankings. First announced in 2010, the speed at which a user can reach the page content from the google search results is a deciding factor in where google will rank the page.

Research by Moz found it was the back-end performance (including web servers, their network connections, CDN (content delivery network) and back-end application and database servers) that had the biggest impact on search engine ranking, with websites that could quickly deliver pages gaining a higher position than those that were slower.

How does web hosting impact site speed?

Your website’s hosting should be optimised for speed, just as the website itself is. SSD, CPU, memory, server location, network speed and load balancing all have their part to play in the smooth running of your site. Choosing a good web hosting company like Certa Hosting can’t guarantee you’ll reach page one of google, but it does mean you’ll avoid the penalties of hosting your site with the wrong one. Choose carefully and don’t base your decision on price alone.

10 things you can do to speed up your site

  1. Minimise HTTP requests by reducing the number of elements on your page
  2. Minify resources
  3. Optimise images
  4. Enable compression of large pages
  5. Reduce the number of plugins on your site
  6. Choose a reliable web host
  7. Ensure your site’s scripts are up-to-date
  8. Minimise redirects
  9. Fix broken URLs
  10. Use a CDN (content delivery network)

A fast site that gives a great UX will start generating its own SEO in the resulting backlinks from recommendations and online conversations about the brand.

Conclusion

If you want your users to have a great experience and tell others about it, pay attention to both the front and the back end of your website. Once they are harmoniously working together you will reap the rewards of a fast, user-friendly website that can keep up with your business ambitions. 

Thank you Jeremy Rose, director at Certa Hosting, a premium web hosting services provider.

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Tech

What Are the Prerequisites for the CCNA?

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The CCNA is a Cisco certification required for most IT professionals. There are actually a few versions of the exam, but the most common is the CCNA Routing and Switching certification. This exam can be taken at the Associate level, so there aren’t many concerns as far as prerequisites go.

The only real limitations are that a person under 13 years will not be permitted to take it, and a person between 13 and 17 must have parental consent. For those 18 and older, there are no restrictions, as Cisco does not require any previous exams to become eligible for the CCNA.

Still, just because there are no real prerequisites, this doesn’t mean the exam isn’t challenging. It’s a 90-minute test consisting of both multiple-choice and performance-based questions. Anyone taking the exam will have to thoroughly prove their knowledge and problem-solving skills in a limited time. It can be stressful, and it’s recommended to have both theoretical knowledge as well as practical networking experience before taking the test. The following are the best ways to prepare for the CCNA.

Study materials

There are plenty of study materials that can get you started. These range from official study guides, video courses, labs, and more. There is a list of Cisco approved materials for those wishing to follow that path, though there are a variety of options from other vendors as well. Regardless of whether you pursue free or paid options, you’ll need to do your best to cover all of the content that could appear on the exam. The methods you choose will likely depend on your learning style.

In general, it’s recommended to take a self-paced video course, regardless of your knowledge level. These will generally measure your knowledge at the start of the course to ensure you aren’t bored with concepts you already know nor overwhelmed at the beginning with unfamiliar ideas. You’ll likely need some additional materials, however, as it can be easy to miss some ideas when watching videos.

There’s an official Cisco Certification Guide available in ebook and hardcopy forms which many argue to be the best study guide available. It’s also impossible to replace hands-on experience through any number of study guides or lab courses. Luckily, modern simulation tools like GNS3 can let you practice the majority of performance-based content you’ll see on the exam.

Practice tests

To get a better idea of what the real exam will be like, you’ll need to take some practice tests. While no practice test can show the same questions that will appear on the current exam, there are many tutoring packages out there that include a CCNA practice test with real questions from past exams. These questions are obtained directly from Cisco and Pearson and can give you a good idea as to the structure of the exam. If you’re able to complete these in the allotted time, you should stand a better chance at the real thing.

Additional preparation

No matter how you decide to prepare for the exam, you’ll likely be doing some combination of self-study and seeking outside help. External training options like expert boot camps and live courses may be just what you need if you require a more personal touch. These options generally include several hours of live instruction, and boot camps will let you schedule appointments with an expert instructor.

The real key is that you need to understand your own learning style and pace, something you’ll hopefully have good experience with from previous classwork. Luckily, you can have a combination of everything you think will work for you before you attempt your exam.

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Tech

5 Tech Jobs Guaranteed to Last

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With the rise of automation, not to mention artificial intelligence, the future of tech jobs from a human perspective can be a little uncertain. That being said, there are certain jobs in the tech sector that will not be going away, not until the machines rise up that is.

1. Database Administrator

DBAs (database administrators) take care of a company’s data. They make sure that their databases run efficiently and that they are secure from people that shouldn’t have access. A DBA will also be responsible for organising that data and storing it effectively. This role does generally require a degree in MIS (Management Information Systems) or in a related field.

Database administrators also need to have an understanding of database languages, the most common of which is SQL (Structured Query Language). Whichever programming language a company may use, the database administrator will have to be able to navigate it effectively.

2. Software Developer

The creatives behind a computer program are called software developers. Some will create applications, such as circuit board software, for example, while others will build systems. Software developers will usually work alongside computer programmers.

A bachelor’s degree in computer science is generally required of a software developer, that or in software engineering or another related field. In some cases, a degree in mathematics is acceptable too.

In addition to the above, a traditional academic education is not necessarily required due to ‘online coding boot camps’ that are often available free of charge.

 3. Web Developer

Developers that specialise in web applications will use various programming languages in order to create online software to client specifications. A web developer will normally be proficient in the use of multiple programming languages as well as operating systems.

An employer will look for computer-related education as well as relevant experience in the field. With these skills being in high demand, formal degrees are not usually required.

4. Computer Systems Analysts

A computer systems analyst is responsible for investigating an organisation’s systems and procedures. Following this, they will revamp or design these to help a company operate more efficiently. An analyst needs to have an understanding of both IT and business needs and their limitations. Responsibilities include liaising with managers to determine their IT related needs.

The majority of systems analysts have a bachelor’s degree in a computer related field, but they may also be required to have a business background.

5. Mobile Application Developers

Mobile application developers are responsible for creating or adapting existing applications for use on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Video game studios, advertising companies and marketing companies recognise that mobile is an effective content distribution channel. Mobile application developers are in demand from other sectors too such as financial institutions, government agencies and those industries that require products to help their operations run more efficiently.

Many mobile application developers will have a background in either computer science or software engineering. There are now colleges that offer degrees in mobile application development so that’s another option to look at.

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IT Security

Take These Steps And Protect Your Business From A Cybercrime

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You might have read the news story surrounding the events that happened at Mal A Largo. The prestigious club favoured by the president was recently breached by a woman who claimed she was a member. She wasn’t. When she was inside, she suggested she was there for a conference.

There was no conference taking place and the woman entered the club with multiple pieces of tech. One of which contained malware data. The president was in the club at the time and it is not currently known what the woman’s intentions were. It is however clear, that she almost succeeded.

This shouldn’t come as a massive shock. After all, recent reports have suggested that by 2021 there will be a cyber attack on a business every twenty seconds. That’s crazy and it won’t just be big businesses that are exposed either.

Indeed, experts suggest that smaller companies will be targeted because criminals won’t expect them to have the latest protection measures in place.

This leaves an important question: Is your business secure and prepared for the threat of a cyber attack?

Truthfully, the answer is probably no. But you can take steps and make changes to ensure that your business is protected.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can do this, plus here’s a quick recap on what you need to know about cyber crime and malware.

What is Malware?

You don’t need to know the history of malware but it’s kind of interesting so here’s a short summary.  Its beginnings are thought to be in 1949, with  computer scientist John von Neumann, however the first documented viruses were in the 1970s.

There was the creeper worm by Bob Thomas and in the eighties the man credited as the father of viruses, Fred Cohen really developed the computer virus as we know it today.

Not all viruses are bad, though malware is and it’s thought that a third of all computers world-wide have been infected at some time.

Hard-hitting viruses

There have been some very hard hitting computer viruses over the years including:

  • 2013 – Cyptolocker. This is one of the early ramsonware programs. Ramsonware in itself is interesting insofar as it denies the user access to their computer with threats to publish the users’ data unless a ransom is paid.
  • 2014 – Backoff. Known for hitting the Point of Sale (POS) machines to steal credit card data.
  • 2016 – Cerber. One of the most infective viruses according to Microsoft.
  • 2017 – WannaCry Ransomware. Appropriately named as many companies attacked by it did ‘want to cry’.

Source – a brief history of malware

What is Cybercrime?

Simply put, cybercrime is the term given to describe any criminal activity online, i.e. uses the Internet. It’s far-reaching, insofar as it includes everything from ramsonware and other viruses, to hacking, phishing and spamming.

So, what can you do to make sure your business is protected?

Installed And Up To Date

It’s important to make sure that you are installing anti-virus software. Once it is installed, make sure that you are updating it regularly. Many people think that once you have installed anti-virus software on your tech, your issues are over. This just isn’t the case. Indeed, it’s instead possible and even likely that you fall behind on updates and suddenly there’s basically no protection for your business.

This is usually because people are relying on free antivirus software. Free software is better than nothing, but it’s definitely not the ideal solution. If you want the highest level of protection, then you need to invest in the best software on the market. This isn’t free but it does provide fantastic value for your company.

Choose Strong Passwords

Passwords are incredibly dangerous if they are easy to guess or if they include information that people could quickly access. As such, there should be no personal information used to create your passwords. It should be a random string of numbers and letters. These are almost impossible to guess or hack and as such will keep your sensitive data secure.

The Latest Tech

Do make sure that you are investing in the latest technology and equipment. The latest tech will usually have preventive measures in place to ensure that software is protected. Particularly if they are running the latest programs and systems.

You should be careful of methods for saving money as well such as BYOD initiatives. While this can cut costs down, you can’t guarantee that the devices that employees are as secure as they need to be. Investing in the latest technology yourself will always be the best option.

We hope this helps you understand how to secure your business from a potential cybercrime.

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