Joomla!™ User Group Milton Keynes
CDN website optimisation via CloudFlare - is it worth it?
CDN distribution is 'Content Delivery Network' where your website is delivered via multiple servers so the the end browser user loads your website page faster.
Speed is important but so is reliability and CloudFlare may improve both. This is not always the case because the CloudFlare network is internally complex. Complexity always has a price and the price may well be reliability.
While the complexity may cause some issues, you also have to factor in the fact that the CloudFlare company is well resourced in terms of staff and their response to network issues. Many times we see hosting companies quoting 99.99% 'up-time' but I have a big issue with this - Why...?
'Up-Time' is normally monitored internally on the server, or on a server located in the same data centre. What happens if a router, firewall or network switching component part of the data centre connection is faulty or incorrectly configured? The internal monitoring systems still report server 'up-time' but your website can be unreachable with a server error 500 = blank page!
Reliability is improved if your website is protected from hackers, or undue stress caused by DOS (Denial Of Service) attacks. There is a long term reliability factor in addition to the website 99.99% up-time of your server.
You should also consider how hackers are detected
If script jockey hackers target websites, using automated probing methods (most of them do), then they will be detected by a CDN network like CloudFlare. Once detected then they are blacklisted so that they can not continue to abuse other sites on the same CDN network. Contrast this with the need to keep an eye on your logs, or implement a blacklist from lists held on the internet. This is just like Google detecting email spammers. A big network resource detects things faster and blocks spammers, or hackers, if you subscribe to their services.
There are many benefits to even the FREE CloudFlare service and it is worth opening an account and trawling through their services.
If you take an example: http://www.thelastHurdle.co.uk (The Last Hurdle), it took ONLY 25 minutes end-to-end to copy out and adjust the DNS (Domain Name Server) settings and duplicate them, check them and finally make the website live on CloudFlare. Spend another 15 minutes and you can implement country wide bans, optimisation, WordPress API plugin configuration etc. It's all very easy to do.
That's an example of a WordPress website but CDN will work equally well for older websites using Joomla: Torquay Locksmith located in Paignton - in fact, any standard website!
The CDN advantage is very clear with much faster loading times and local CDN delivery close to the end user's location. This increases reliability of the whole website delivery system because less network resources are used to deliver the website locally.
One word of caution, do not think that CDN will improve a badly configured server. If your server is badly configured then it may well be stressed by the CDN bot crawling it. Your web server might then fall over and reliability is thus effected.
CDN delivery should be considered in its entirety which includes your server. If you have blacklist banning software in operation, to stop website scrappers etc, then it is likely that the CDN bot crawler will be banned. You just have to be sensible so as to allow the CDN bot to read your website. If you face this situation, a whitelist of IP addresses is provided.
Is CloudFlare good for SEO?
You might want to apply caution and first try to make sure that your website is basically sound. Adding CDN might be analogous to "harnessing a race horse to a cart".
One obvious beneficial situation is a website having an international audience. CDN will delivery locally and will be much faster.
As usual, in web hosting, nothing is obvious and you have to judge things on a case-by-case basis.
What do I choose... WordPress or Joomla?
Which one should your choose and why, that age old question!
For some people this question invokes a defensive commitment to either WordPress or Joomla. It can generate allot of conflicting views and advice. The business owner is often left in a state of confusion not knowing who to believe.
I take a different approach to many but I also find some seasoned developers agreeing with me. The main consideration is the need to get your message out onto the web. Developing your website means having a design goal and content to place within it. This takes skill and determination to apply any special requirements you might have now or in the future. Websites are team efforts which require learning and skills so your real objective is to define what you need to express on a website and what skills you have in your team.
Your team may only be yourself and a web designer or it may involve many more people each with a particular talent:
- Customers or target users = revenue or end client user engagement needs
- Business Owner = clear vision to match target user needs
- Client Contact = good communication of vision
- Sales contact = communication of costs and scope of project
- Project Manager = good planning within scope and setting of market goals
- Domain purchase and configuration = good domain naming and domain settings for reliability (DNS, email etc)
- Web PHP programmer = good framework and security
- CSS Style Designer = style implementation to match vision
- SEO Content/Internet Optimisation Manager = feedback to market opportunities
- Social Media Consultant = social channel publication to fetch warmed-up prospect traffic plus improve corporate image
- A-B Market Testing = performance monitoring to predefined metrics/goals
- Security consultant = log analysis and preventative measures to stop hackers
- Server Administrator = good hosting reliability and security prevention of black listing
- Web Hosting Network Supplier = speed of network, reliability of delivery plus security
- Review and lifecycle of change = need to update for security as well as adapting to changes in business
You will notice how customers are part of your team and are of primary importance. Don't forget to trial review your website with your end users! Is the website easy to understand and use, does it meet or exceed expectations, is it offering something to engage them, does it work fast enough before interest is lost...?
A reliable website will depend upon how closely each function works together. ANY failure points along the chain, including a lack of understanding of the costs and implications of decisions, will impact upon the final quality of the delivery.
Is all of this simple, NO! You CAN get lucky and hit a niche using a primitive website but under these circumstances all your website gains are at risk. They are at risk because of changing markets, Google changes and unplanned outages caused by competitor actions, server stability or hackers. This reminds me of a Christmas card selling website with millions of website hits, plenty of sales and the website owner having sleepless nights not knowing if they will have a business next year!
"A happy business is a business where the risks are known and managed."
Can any business owner abstract their vision and just pass the responsibility down the chain?
If any business does not have formal style guidelines then this needs to be addressed. To start developing anything you need a plan and a good idea of what you are going to end up with. Web designers are busy people, often being 'budget challenged', so mock-ups and pre-approval design layouts should be presented but sometimes this is not fully explored. This can be because timescales do not permit the client enough time to consider all the implications. Business is often lost if you do not present your offerings in a timely manner. The decision making process takes time and clients sometimes forget to add their own time delays into the timescale. A proper business plan should be considerate to all parties and have this delay built in.
How can you overcome this decision making time delay?
Essentially, the client will have to have trust and a budget for modifications based on a good relationship between them and the web designer. If the web designer creates something which is their expression of the clients needs, rather than the client's understanding, then time and budgets are challenged. You have to have trust and a good working relationship which encompasses a lot of unspoken understanding.
How does this relate to choosing WordPress or Joomla?
On a simple website this choice will come down to what tools and resources the web designer is familiar with and happy to support and use. When things get more complex then the choice is more important.
If you have a well structured team of people, entering content in a rigid format, then I would prefer Joomla. That's because of the underlying database structure being based upon fairly standard tables. The structured and standardised entry of website data/content can be formatted and controlled by the addition of enhancements or custom modules. I find that Joomla scales up because it is based upon a more ridged and structured data entry style.
You can do a ten page website in Joomla but if your client want's their own administration and control then, under these circumstances, I would choose WordPress. Both Joomla or WordPress can be used but WordPress allows the client more control over their own upgrade path. Under Joomla revisions you are often required to perform special conversion upgrades between major revisions.
Ease of use and familiarity are important to the small business owner. When the business grows then you can find special needs forcing the website into custom development such as OpenCart, Laravel or some other more complex tool.
It is a matter of fact that websites wear out just like shoes. Change is not simply security updates but technology improvements and business change.
So what is the final conclusion, WordPress or Joomla?
Either one, or something different, because it simply depends upon your human team relationships and if you make money at each iteration stage of website.revision. Nothing focuses the client and the web development team more acutely than the fact that they are making money or loosing money. A happy client will have multiple websites for each business so as to spread their risk over multiple business areas. A happy web developer has the commissioned work and delivers something appropriate that they can support at the lowest cost while delivering their highest quality.
"The choice is simply to build your trust and relationships with profit because this is your true long term investment."
Why open source is better for your MK website?
When you commit to having a Joomla as your website CMS then you are undertaking a better ethical choice.
I strongly recommend that you choose Joomla components from the JED directory. The reason why you should do this is for the protection of your interests as a website owner. Any author of software components has to abide by ethical standards in order to be listed upon JED. You may need such standards because it is possible for the source content of components to be encrypted and hidden from you. You can not afford to risk your future to code that you can not see or amend.
An appraisal and business review of Joomla
One needs to examine any website from the perspective of any longer term maintenance overhead cost you would bear.
The perspective I advocate is a win-win where source development and open source sharing gives back to the community at large. These are my personal opinions but I will be frank and plain talking because I value the following honest understanding:
"The Internet is a gamble or business speculation which has both costs and rewards"
This is perhaps the first honest Internet appraisal you have come across and you may not have experienced this before. The Internet is so super charged with potential prospects and opportunities that little room is left to communicate the truth, the truth you already know deep down but nobody is actually telling you this truth.
My Truthful Joomla Appraisal
Most of the time business people will have a website built for them a few years ago or they will use an 'easy template' and then add their own words and perhaps images. If you are lucky the site looks clean in appearance but it is dated and crippled in several ways:
- The product or service content becomes in need of update and out of date
- The web build technology is a dead end full of future overhead costs for you
- No additional added value can be applied without great additional cost
- Your website performance is low with...
Few visitors due to having a website that's not SEO ruthless and targeted.
Let's be honest you have very few paying web visitors?
IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THIS WAY - TAKE CONTROL!
Normally, the key problem is with...
"The vehicle that's carrying your words and content is the wrong vehicle!"
Your website is not built upon a content management system. The site is not data driven with online storage of your edit changes and easy online edits. Even if your website were to be re-written, to be data driven (a typical custom programmer approach), it would not encompass all of the features and options you can implement if you had your site converted into a major CMS system.
You note that I say that the vehicle is wrong and not that the wrong content is being carried. I say this because you can always change the content of your pictures and words once you switch to using a proper content management system.
There are three major offerings of CMS systems:
- Joomla! = Business website
- Drupal = Business website with high customisation overheads
- WordPress = Blog based, inefficient data storage system for large non-blog websites
That's a very crude interpretation because you can do almost anything with any of them. It is a matter of undertaking the costs and skills to change or enhance each one of them so that they can do what you want them to do. The one which stands out is Joomla! This is because Joomla fits most business structures and approaches to market. It also needs the least amount of skilled custom work and effort to make it do anything special.
Joomla Content Management System Overview
This is a personal evaluation and analysis of Open Source Content Management System called Joomla in version 1.5.x.
I wanted to answer the question: "What is the Joomla system and what is a good purpose for Joomla?"
Joomla is a Content Management System (CMS) which simply means that the content is stored in a database with an online administration system which is normally called 'the back end' and is not seen by the public. Joomla is delivered as downloadable 'free to use' Open Source software under version two of a licence called GPL.
In truth, Joomla is more than just a CMS...
Open Source Market Advantage
One of the fine achievements of Open Source is its public access to the build methods of any framework. This has lead to commercial innovations such Artiseer. Such innovations reduce the timescale to develop look and feel themes for content management sites including Drupal and Joomla to name just two.
The fact still remains that even after themes are designed they will normally need tweaking and changes. Older developer design methods will not make this an easy option for novice Drupal developers. It is a matter of how the framework is constructed and if such design patterns within the software are modern and commonly understood by a large number of contributing developers.
In the labour marketplace of developers, selecting from a major open source code base will bring with it distinct advantages with regard having access to skilled developers. This is in contrast to commercial software where the experience of any developer, in the marketplace, may be limited to their previous employer's ability to upgrade their development application version levels or indeed their design practices. Open Source simply lowers the barriers to knowledge and entry.
Project Code Contribution
How can JUG Milton Keynes help you achieve involvement in the Joomla project?
1. We can help you amend Plug-In code and Joomla Extensions
We feed such changes and improvements back to the individual developers if you so wish. This helps the developer improve their extension which can, in turn, improve Joomla as a complete offering.
2. We can help you articulate your needs and concerns
Every aspect of life has its own language and its best methods of communication. Joomla forums are no different to any other single interest group - you need to convey your problems in a manner best suited to gaining understanding and help. We can help you find the best people to help you and help you express yourself to them. I am not saying that you will find a community of Joomla Geeks, far from it, but you will need to be concise in your communication to these helpful but busy people.