The 2020 memes are (mostly) done, and we’ve made our resolutions (I’m planning to get out more, maybe spend a bit more time with humans).
Many of the changes in work and play that we saw last year will remain, and others will not revert entirely. One thing for sure is that consumers’ online expectations have never been higher. So with that in mind, I’d like to share some resolutions for building more robust, faster and better websites in 2021. With some good planning (and a little luck), we can get a bit more good mojo into your year.
Most people are so focused on having backups that they are oblivious to how to restore them.
Optimize for Traffic Changes
Search rankings are changing yet again. The days of just stuffing keywords into blocks of footer text or faking image ranking via alt tags are over. Instead, your site needs to be consistently and usefully structured to tell a clear and compelling story, both to the robots that dictate your traffic and the customers who expect a clear and straightforward browsing experience.
For webmasters serving video, the new year offers opportunities to consider your video player and make sure that you’re offering all the right formats, especially for mobile. With people spending a lot of time at home, you must provide high-quality streams.
Due to massive infrastructure spending by ISPs, people are more likely to be watching your content on a high-speed connection. The surfer with the 1000 meg fiber, or even just the 300 meg cable connection, will not be satisfied with a 720p “semi-HD” video experience. Furthermore, an increase of more than 50% in big-screen TV sales during 2020 means customers are more likely to watch video content on their TV, so now is the perfect time to make sure that you support playback on the biggest screen in the house.
Secure Your Sites and Data
It has never been more essential to secure your websites and services. I know this sounds like a broken record, but the start of a new year is a great time to clean out the old. Have you revoked access to your hosting accounts or control panels for people who no longer work for you? The current unemployment crisis is terrible, but the wrong person with credentials to your accounts could make your 2021 worse than 2020 (is that even possible? Yes, yes it is).
It’s an excellent time for trusted employees and partners to make sure they are using strong passwords and have two-factor authentication enabled. Also, check your various software packages to see if updates are available; out of date software is one of the most common attack vectors against websites worldwide. It is also time to improve your minimalist Zen skills by removing software and services you don’t use. Did you install any software that you used once and never again? Have an old admin panel that nobody uses? Start the year lean and mean by getting rid of these old clunkers.
With a new year, it’s time for a new you — do something you’ve never done before (and let’s make it something important). Do you have an actionable data backup plan and a retrieval plan? Most people are so focused on having backups that they are oblivious to how to restore them. As a website operator, you don’t want to guess and hope — test and know for sure.
Scale All the Things
If there’s one thing that 2020 showed us, it’s that you never know when the next lockdown will happen (or any other major world-changing event), so you have to be ready. Websites can get busy fast. Consider the fact that Zoom ended 2019 with 10 million daily meeting participants and exploded to 300 million by April 2020.
In addition to preparing public-facing resources for scale, the new year is a great time to consider scaling your back-end (and I don’t mean by eating that extra piece of pie!). In the last year, many database vendors released the latest versions of their software. Many of these options now support cost-effective replication and scaling options. Rather than wait until a spike in traffic hits, explore how to scale horizontally; that is to say, making it ready to add new servers with little or no downtime to increase capacity. Scale-out database technology that used to be cost-prohibitive for many site operators has become cost-effective.
Now is the time to break the tyranny of hard drives. Relying on individual hard drives, which limit your read and write capacity and can fail at any time, is so very 2020. In fact, we make a point of working with software and CMS providers (including WordPress, MechBunny and ElevatedX) to add support for infinitely scalable storage offerings, so as a content library grows, server scaling is not a problem; a CMS will simply offload its storage requirements to the cloud, meaning only the bytes used are being paid for.
Nowadays, you shouldn’t have to plan for capacity upgrades or maintenance windows. Plus, data loss is a thing of the past with automatic replication, as data recovery services are available (in case you’re too lazy to learn that one important new thing this year). May you have an optimized, secure and scaled 2021!
Brad Mitchell is the founder of XBIZ Award-winning adult web hosting company MojoHost, the trusted choice for tens of thousands of sites. Known for his dapper style and charismatic wit, Mitchell is a regular fixture at trade shows, where he frequently shares hard-won wisdom while striking profitable deals. He believes in earning his client’s loyalty because “That’s Good Mojo.”