Technology is the collection of tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures used by humans. Engineering is the discipline that seeks to study and design new technologies. The Big Fat Geek is an Engineer.
Great Online Shopping Festival is an exciting event; it is a Mecca for online shopping lovers. The GOSF 2014 is scheduled to start from 10th and better than the previous two edition. If you have been waiting to go on a shopping spree, wait till the festival begins and use the GOSF coupons for shopping. The coupons are a great way to save money. Some of the best uses of these coupons are discussed below:
One of the major reasons why most people use online shopping coupons is to try a new product without the risk of losing their money. If you have been apprehensive about buying a product for the fear of the product being undesirable, with great online shopping festival just around the corner you can take a brave decision to buy the product at a discounted rate using the GOSF coupons. For instance, if you want to try using a new dish washer, you can use the promotional coupons and buy it without spending too much money.
Groceries are essential for everyone. If you buy your groceries online, you can use the coupons to get free goods. For example you can get free toiletry items by using the coupons with a sale offer by a particular brand or e-store. Additionally, with coupons you can manage to buy more food items yet stay within your budget. Apart from the discounts and offers on the canned products and personal care items, you can also find offers that can be used at clothing stores and restaurants. This will not only allow you to treat your loved ones but also save money.
Luxury goods or branded products are generally expensive and is not affordable for all. If you want to a buy branded shoes, bags or clothing, you can use the coupons to afford them. The coupons basically reduce the cost of the product and give you the liberty and joy of purchasing goods that you want to buy but couldn’t afford otherwise.
Initially, the coupons were available on the coupon booklets and local newspapers but today in the digital age, you can easily find the coupons you want online. There are several dedicated coupon websites, social media and mobile platforms. The brands and e-commerce website that are participating in the GOSF 2014 are offering their shopping coupons on their website; you simply have to keep your eyes open to find the coupon you want.
Completed the Mobile App Analytics Fundamentals course by Google in the Google Analytics Academy. I think it’s a fantastic idea to create small courses on all the new product features to educate the large community of users using this free tool.
Google has launched yet another course for understanding how Ecommerce data can be reported and used within Google Analytics.
The course builds on top of the other two courses, and starts simple. However, it builds onto some of the more complex features that Google has rolled out with Analytics. This goes to show how much of product education and support might be required for users to truly appreciate a product.
Having your own website and maintaining it has its own set of wins and losses. If your site is not popular enough, that’s a heartburn.
Then one fine day, you get TechCrunched or Mashabled or Redditted – and boom, comes a spike. Or even better, you start doing well on your own and the traffic grows. Soon, this traffic becomes so big, that your existing hosting plan starts creaking and squawking under this load.
This post is for those of you who have a site which has loads of traffic, so much so that the site performance is under impact due to it. Like quite a few of our clients. *Touchwood*
Too much Traffic, a Bad thing?
There’s never such a thing as too much traffic. However, what happens when your existing server hits the peak capacity at which it can serve the responses reliably?
The site seems slower, sluggish – the horde of traffic which is coming to your site start complaining – hey, this site does not load.
This is the next heartburn – you spent all those efforts in building traffic and now you do not want your visitors to have a bad experience because of speed! So what do we do? Do we say no to the additional traffic?
Never! Here’s what we did for one of our clients.
Clients: One of the top TV Channels in India in the Food and Lifestyle segment
Problem: Their site was being reported as sluggish and slow. We checked it, and found that the server was taking more than 70 seconds to respond, and a whole 2 minutes went by before the screen showed any elements on the browser!
Impact: When you are such a popular brand, any fault (however small) is blown out of proportion in Social Media. The brand was facing such taunts on their own Social Media Channels, that this became a gigantic issue.
Solution: What we proposed was web performance optimization of their site. Since the site was based on WordPress, most of the things we did to speed up the site can be referred to as ‘Performance Tuning WordPress for Scale’.
The first job was looking at the server configuration and changing it to ensure that the memory utilization of Apache and MySQL is optimum. We did this by tweaking the mpm_prefork settings in Apache and by changing the MySQL connection settings in my.cnf.
After this, we installed a caching mechanism on the WordPress platform. We looked at multiple options, and settled on WP Super Cache. The ease with which this plug-in installs and starts serving cached content is simply awesome.
Apart from caching (which had huge savings), we also installed the PageSpeed module which Google has published, on the web server. That, and image smushing.
The result –
The loading time dropped from 70 odd seconds to 7 seconds. The site was loading faster and it could handle more requests. This was in the month of September. Over the next 6 months, this site has grown with us.
They are now doing really well on Social Media. In fact a huge 40% of their traffic is due to Facebook!!
With traffic comes one more overhead, the cost of increasing bandwidth! Now, I do not see enough people complaining about this, but if your site is popular and contains rich media, then soon enough, your hosting provider is going to start charging you extra for bandwidth. Don’t be surprised – even Amazon and Rackspace charge for bandwidth.
With around 18,000 visitors hitting the site every day, the hosting provider of the site was facing big issues. Not only was this one server clogging up the network and using up the 10 MBps pipe he had allocated to it, it was asking for more.
Websites which have a lot of static content (js, css, images, etc) should look at this route. Having a CDN ahead of your hosting not only takes the pressure off your server, but also improves the response times of your pages.
We typically use the WordPress’ CDN via JetPack’s Photon. However, in this case, we went with CloudFlare. CloudFlare does multiple things for you and it’s definitely worth checking out. What they do is cache all the static content of the site, and serve that from their network.
The end result –
Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to take a screenshot when the number was above 250
Using CloudFlare ensured that more content could be served to more number of people at the same time! All of this was done on a single server (Dual Core, 8 GB RAM).
In a lot of the discussions we have had with clients, it seems they think of WordPress as a simple blogging platform instead of a kick-ass powerful Content Management System. One of the major concerns we keep hearing is – Can it Scale?
As a person who literally lives off the internet, one of the first things I do when I get a new machine is install Chromium or Chrome and then go and install the Ad Block Plus plug-in. Fortunately, I am well past Windows, so I do not have to go to the trouble of removing IE!
Having said that, I thought, it would be interesting to see the world from the eyes of a non-power user and see the internet with it’s full glory … yes without an Ad Blocker!
How to Get Ad Blockers
For those of you who are new to this term – Ad Blockers, these are small plug-ins within your browser that stop Ads from displaying on any of the sites you visit. Those elements are not rendered at all! I strongly recommend Ad Block for this purpose.
Just follow the simple instructions on the link provided, and voila! No Ads … you can thank me later .. the web will be a different place for you. But enough of that, this is about seeing those Ads.
A World with Ads
As someone who runs Ads on his blog, I still do not bother to see Ads .. why? Because a lot of these Ads are poorly made … very few Ads these days are awesome enough to catch your eye or even better make you click! Why do we require Ads? Well to pay for all this cost of content creation of course!
Mainstream Media does it all the time! Why cannot the Internet follow suit? Put up Ads, write content, generate traffic … the simplest formula in the series of crazy get rich schemes
What Prompted me to do this?
Sheer curiosity of checking how the Media agencies of the world are creating Ads was one. Some of the clients I was working with wanted to run Ads and I wanted to see how the Ads are going with the design of the site was another.
The third reason was the most important. I believe that users (yes, that’s you and me!) develop a certain immunity towards unpleasant experiences over time. Ads are generally ignored .. users learn to ignore them as time goes by, click through rates (CTRs) drop … that’s why it’s so important to keep changing your creatives!
The month starts!
I did this experiment in the month of February and ran it through till the middle of March. A little over 40 days. What did I observe? Well there are beautiful ads (naah, not Cilory ;-)), and the blockers are removing a bit more of the mark-up. Quite a lot of times an otherwise empty page suddenly looks fuller due to these display ads.
For e.g the Facebook layout looks marginally better with Ads. However, with Ads such as these, I’d still start running the blocker.
Social Media networks were fine, the worst places I experienced without an Ad Blocker were surprisingly not Pr0n sites, but gaming sites! The sheer amount of wtf-ery in Ads that I saw on gaming sites was outstanding.
What took the cake was an Ad by Gurudas Kamat on my own blog asking for support in elections. Ughhh … one quick shift to Adsense and I blocked the entire category out. That Ad shook me … I prompty turned out the Ad Blocker.
Before I experienced the internet without an Ad Blocker, I was happily running multiple Ads on my own site. After those 40 days, I trimmed down the number of Ads (I believe there are two simple Ads in the sidebar and thats that).
Setting up advertising to bear the cost of content creation is good, but if it is destroying the user experience (HBR are you listening?), is a no-no.