Achieve better website performance using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Achieve better website performance using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs - Plesk

Here at WordCamp US, Steve Persch reveals how web teams can standardize and automate the levels of Marlow’s hierarchy of needs to achieve their goals. Using these tools at any level of the hierarchy can build on a stable foundation and focus upwards towards conversion. 

Like you, Steve Persch knows the pain of trying to juggle different developmental priorities. Steve is a developer with over 13 years’ experience in building WordPress and Drupal sites. “There are always new requests for more functionality, fresh redesigns, and bug fixing”. You need to increase conversions on top of keeping the websites maintained, which may be conflicting at times. Hence why Steve wants to present a way to organize these priorities – the hierarchy of needs for high-performing websites.

Steve Persch

It’s easier to organize these developmental priorities when you view them as building blocks on top of the other. During his funny WordCamp US 2019 lightning session, Steve used Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a metaphor. Effectively highlighting how web teams leverage solid foundations and standardization in all hierarchy levels to move their focus upwards to the conversion stage.

Maslow’s hierarchy applied to website performance

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a 1943 theory. This sees people motivated by five basic needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

At the base, you’ll find the building blocks, which are physiological and safety needs. Things like food, water, health and money, as these are hard to function without. On top of that there is belonging – a community of friends and family, then self-esteem and respect. At the top, you’ll find self actualization, the real purpose. Are you reaching your full potential?

Maslow's hierarchy o fneeds applied to website performance and conversion

In the same way, we can look at a website’s hierarchy of needs. At the bottom, we have the servers running, because without servers, there can be no website at all. Next is safety, you need to keep the ship afloat. Can you get hacked? Will you get a traffic spike that will break something?

Moving further up, there is compliance. Are we compliant with the things we need to be compliant with? Regulations, and so on? Next is quality, especially important since we need to provide the best experience to the user. Also, there is so much noise online that standing out with good quality websites just makes sense from a business perspective.

However at the top there is always conversion. Similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the apex of the pyramid is the main purpose. This is the reason that your website exists in the first place – conversions. So collectively, we should be aiming to satisfy the need at the top of the pyramid.

WebOps is a team sport

WebOps people - a team sport

Steve specified again that this is not a hierarchy of people, but a hierarchy of needs.  Members of a WebOps team can exist on various or multiple levels of the hierarchy of needs. Each can do their job perfectly, but ultimately their processes and goals should be aligned from the bottom upwards.

“Perfect execution won’t fix a broken culture.” - Steve Persch

These WebOps practices and standardizations are better done as a group.

Are You Making Any of These 10 Website Launch Mistakes?

Website Launch Mistakes

You should consider your company website the essential bridge connecting your clients to your business. It’s the go-to platform where potential customers can find all the relevant company info, your products and services, and a way to get them. And while many businesses have now grasped the fundamental importance of investing in a proper website, there are still 10 common pitfalls that can hinder your website’s performance and success.

Vital security measures

1. Missing vital security measures

Online security has become a key factor users look out for when accessing new websites. Think of features like SSL, providing a safe, encrypted link between browser and server, or a CAPTCHA, stopping unwanted bots. Not investing in them can mean unknown sources interfering with your business website performance. In turn, poor performance will very likely result in scaring away potential clients.

Update WordPress plugins

2. Forgetting WordPress plugin updates

As with any system, the different features that make up WordPress require regular maintenance. Failing to do so can slow your website way down and even make certain functions not work properly for their users. So it’s vital for your business to find a tool to update these plugins regularly, such as the popular WordPress Toolkit. Because this lets you mass-manage instances, plugins and themes instantly and from one place. Among many WordPress Toolkit benefits, you also get a staging environment to test new features before they go live.

No scalability

3. Not planning for scalability

Any online business aims to get the biggest customer base possible. So naturally, it’s important for your website to be built in such a way that you can later scale. For example, having enough server power to handle a surge in traffic. And having efficient data backup to manage mass information flow. Note that it’s always better to account for this from the start because it will become very difficult to upgrade a website at the last minute.

Plesk’s control panel works as a scaling tool, allowing businesses to grow over time. Hosting providers can manage their clients and servers across different infrastructure setups, even tailoring it to their business needs.

Accessibility

4. Failing to account for accessibility

In an age where users can access a website from any OS, browser, or device – we all need to make sure we’re available everywhere and to everyone. It would be quite damaging if a business website is designed in such a way that it loses compatibility with, say, iOS devices. Because this essentially eliminates an entire section of potential customers interested in your services. So make sure any device, OS and browser can access your website.

Website Audit

5. Forgetting to undertake a website audit

Website audits are a full analysis of all the different issues that may impact your website’s visibility in a search engine. This is especially important when considering marketing campaigns, because a website audit can help your business uncover weak factors that impact performance.

SEO

6. Skipping SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process where one optimizes their websites so as to receive higher natural rankings in search engine results. And with the online market becoming increasingly more competitive, SEO is a key tool for business to stand out.

Not implementing SEO on a website relegates it to lower position on a search results page, meaning that business can miss out on a considerable number of potential customers. Since SEO can be quite extensive, we recommend that beginners install the SEO Toolkit on Plesk to get started and get found online.

Sitemap

7. Ditching the sitemap

A site map is essentially a list of pages that make up a website and is considered a tool for search engine bots to crawl your website and index it. When a page gets indexed, it makes it more easily searchable in a search engine, thereby increasing its visibility. Therefore, if you don’t submit a sitemap to a search engine, you’re effectively limiting your website’s visibility.

Marketing strategy

8. Not having a marketing strategy

Choose your content carefully as it sets the tone for your brand, but make sure it ties in well with your marketing strategy. No marketing strategy makes sales attempts messy. If your mission doesn’t make sense to your potential customers, they’ll find it difficult to engage with your brand. Meaning that ultimately, they won’t convert.

Ignoring analytics- 10 Website Launch Mistakes - Plesk

9. Ignoring Analytics

Website analytics give businesses valuable insights about their audience, like age, location, and preferences. They can also reveal visitor behaviour, like each website session’s duration, which pages are the most popular and how a visitor arrives at your site. Use this to build a complete profile of your target customer so you can cater to their needs better with your product, service and content.

Social proof

10. Forgetting your social proof

When it comes to online businesses, everyone looks for proof of its legitimacy before engaging further. These include client testimonials, means of contact, including physical addresses and actual phone numbers, and most importantly active social profiles. Businesses who focus so hard on the actual product that they forget their social community, end up losing customers to competitors. Perhaps competitors who were more engaged.

As you can see, launching a business website isn’t as simple as plugging in and hitting the ‘on’ switch. You need to plan for all of the above and more well in advance. Since they all have the potential to increase customer traffic and your overall business success.

Do you agree with all the points we mentioned above? Have we missed anything? Your opinion counts. Let us know in the comments below!

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#6 reasons why you need to update Plesk now

Six reasons why you need to upgrade your Plesk today - Plesk

After New Year, I was sitting in an airport cafe far from home and work, waiting to board. Suddenly, my meditative state of mind was interrupted by two IT-looking guys who, I guess because of my branded hoodie and backpack, asked me if I worked for Plesk. So naturally we got to talking and it turned out that they worked in a small firm using Plesk to manage web projects. As I was the first company employee they had encountered, I ended up listening to their piled-up claims against Plesk.

The same old excuses

It was clear they used an outdated version – Plesk 17.0 on a CentOS server. And their argument for this was the same old “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. They bought, launched, configured, and started using. They feared the latest version carried unnecessary problems as new products offer not only new functions, but also new bugs. Because of this, some don’t take the risk. Others don’t know how to update Plesk properly; and others have no clue that new versions are available.

Mind you, I can understand these reasons for not updating, however, they don’t outweigh the advantages of using the latest product versions. Luckily there was still plenty of time until my boarding announcement, so I started argument by going through their complaints.

Reason #1: Better Backup Storage

Reasons to update your Plesk - better backup and cloud storage - Plesk
To create and store backups in cloud storage, just install the corresponding extensions.

It’s essential for them to have a stable, reliable backup system to work on their web projects. The guys mentioned using a remote FTP server for this, however, it was unstable and they sometimes had issues during backing up or restoration. FTP server service and maintenance also required extra resources. So, I prepared my first argument – that with the latest Plesk, they could use cloud storage for backups.

Not just any cloud providers either, but industry giants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, or even DigitalOcean. They tick off important criteria like security, redundancy, affordability and flexibility. They can easily set up scheduled backups and store them at one time in Google Drive and at another in Amazon S3. So they no longer need to spend resources on their FTP server for storing backups. However, the guys still shook their heads so I went on to my next reason.

Reason #2: Improved Website and Server Performance

“Do you find your websites’ performance important?” I asked, “And what are you currently doing to speed things up?” The guys eagerly explained how they spend all their working hours on that. Tinkering with the server via CLI, picking the required parameters, testing various caching-speeding plugins, and so on. They were really impressed when I told them that they could turn on effective nginx caching in Plesk with just one click and fine-tune. “And if that’s not enough”, I told them, “visit our Extensions Catalog and install Speed Kit – a complete solution for speeding up websites.”

6 reasons to update your Plesk - enable nginx caching
To turn on and configure nginx caching, go to Apache & Nginx Settings of your subscription.
6 reasons to update plesk - turn on nginx caching - Plesk
If you have a WordPress website, then you can turn on nginx caching with just one click.

Reason #3: Finding the important bearded owl

I had to talk about Plesk’s new best friend: the Advisor. The intelligent Adviser-owl recommends ways to improve performance of your Plesk server, without being annoying.  Once you achieve all-round security, you level up to the bearded owl. The other party was so interested I had to open the laptop with my own Plesk server so they could see.

6 reasons to update plesk onyx - screenshot-5 - install advisor extension
Install the Advisor extension and start getting helpful recommendations for your server at once.
6 reasons to update Plesk Onyx - screenshot-4 - the real bearded owl - Advisor

Reason #4: The Self-Repairing Feature

To further prove how the latest Plesk outshines their outdated version, I revealed the new self-repairing feature. This lets you repair Plesk by yourself right from a browser window, without having to connect to the server via SSH. Handy if you don’t have SSH access. And there’s the long-awaited process list that helps identify and manage the processes consuming the most system resources. So, before going to Plesk Support, you can launch Repair Kit to perhaps fix an issue yourself.

6 reasons to update your Plesk - screenshot-6 - How to access Plesk Repair Kit - Plesk
Go to https://domain.tld:8443/repair to access Repair Kit where you can try to get your server back to work.
6 reasons to update your Plesk - screenshot-7 - Find and fix server issues yourself with Plesk Repair Kit - Plesk
With the Repair Kit extension, you can check your server for errors and issues and then fix them.
6 reasons to update your Plesk - screenshot-8 - see what consumes server CPU & Ram with Plesk Repair Kit - Plesk
If you want to know what consumes CPU and RAM on your server, go to Repair Kit’s process list

Reason #5: You’re always up-to-date

Another thing – if their projects grew, sooner or later they would need new, high-demand features, solutions, and technologies. Serious updates of third-party components are always implemented in the latest versions of Plesk on a clean OS. Operating systems on which Plesk is installed also have their own life cycles. So older OS versions stop supporting Plesk over time, as well as outdated versions of third-party components.

Our conversation had become a one-man show, with the guys listening attentively. It was time to finish on a high. So I said that Plesk wants all users to get the best out of the product. From increased reliability to security innovations and implementation of new demanded features. For this to happen, we occasionally stop supporting old Plesk versions.

Lastly – there’s nothing complicated to update Plesk. And once you do, you get access to all the cool, new features our team worked so hard to roll out.

Reason #6: All the latest features and more

I asked if they had seen how powerful and convenient the new WordPress Toolkit became.  And SSL – which offers access to kickass features like “Keep domain secured” HSTS management. Our community, documentation, and support will always help you update and explore new opportunities. Moreover, according to our technical support data, the update from versions 17.0 and 17.5 to 17.8 goes very smoothly and Support requests are very rare.

Finally, I said, “if I was not persuasive enough, trust your peers – the Plesk server-owners. Because 41% of all Plesk Onyx 17.0 and 17.5 instances have already updated by their owners to version 17.8. Also, there are currently 61% of all Plesk servers on Plesk Onyx 17.8. Also, 80% of all new installations are Plesk Onyx 17.8.”

I could see that my recent acquaintances were satisfied and ready to update their server as we said goodbye and went towards our gates. I hope I can persuade you too that using the latest Plesk versions is the right choice for your business.

HTTP/2 – Does it improve site performance?

HTTP/2 and Plesk - improve site performance

There are only 2 groups of web developers – those who already use HTTP/2 to boost website performance and those who are getting ready to use HTTP/2 on their next project. If you’ve not yet heard about HTTP/2, you’ve lots of catching up to do. Let’s get started.

So what is HTTP/2? Is it just a marketing buzzword or is there actually more than that?

HTTP/2 is the latest version of the famous HTTP network protocol. HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol which is used by the World Wide Web. This protocol makes it possible to distribute text and media information using so-called web links between non-connected nodes, such as a browser and a server. For instance, your browser used this protocol to load this blog article. So without HTTP, there wouldn’t be an Internet!

Before diving into the advantages of HTTP/2 and explaining why it will speed up your site, let’s first understand how data is transferred between independent systems.

HTTP/2

The network protocol HTTP

HTTP uses a client-server model. This means that your browser (Firefox, Chrome etc.) is the client and our blog application running on a hosting computer is the server. This article can be identified and loaded by a fixed Uniform Resource Locator (or short and more familiar: URL). If you open the URL of this article, your client will make an HTTP request to the server and retrieve the information in the HTML format. Once the transfer (over a transport layer, commonly TCP) was carried out, your browser renders the received HTML code response to the output that you are looking at right now!

History fact: The term “hypertext” was first used by Ted Nelson in 1965 (Xanadu Project). HTTP and HTML were invented by Tim Berners-Lee and his team at CERN in 1989. BTW, the first website was published on August 6th 1991.

The network protocol supports sessions and authentication. A session is an open sequence of request-response transactions over a TCP connection to a specific port. Port 80 is used for HTTP and 443 for HTTPS connections. HTTPS is HTTP over SSL / TLS that means that an end-to-end connection is established through an encrypted channel using Transport Layer Security (TLS) as cryptographic protocol.

HTTP/1.0 and HTTP/1.1

Before HTTP/2 was introduced as a standard, HTTP/1.1 was the official standard. HTTP/1.1 is a revision of the original HTTP/1.0 version. The original HTTP/1.0 version was officially introduced in 1996. The initial revision of HTTP/1.1 was introduced in 1997, the improved and updated revision of this version was released in 1999 and again in 2014. The main difference between both outdated standards is the support of multiple connections per request. HTTP/1.0 only supports a single connection for each resource request, whereas HTTP/1.1 allows to reuse the same connection multiple times, a persistent connection so to speak. This leads to less latency which helps to load a modern website faster. Latency is the time delay between the request (cause) and response (effect). This was improved even further in HTTP/2 but I will explain the main advantages of the new standard later!

HTTP request methods in detail

I talked about requests to the server previously. HTTP defines several request methods that can be used for different purposes and actions on the identified resource. The most common verbs (as the methods are also called) are GET and POST which should be familiar to you.

http2 headers

When you call a URL following a normal link, then your browser does a GET request. You can see GET parameters directly in the URL, e.g. ?id=42. In the example the GET variable is id and has the value 42.  When you sign into a service by putting your credentials into a form and clicking on the submit button, then your client will perform a POST request. Besides these methods, HTTP supports some other methods which are typically not used by your browser while surfing the internet. The other methods are:

  • HEAD (like GET but without response body),
  • PUT (modifies or creates resource),
  • DELETE (deletes resource),
  • TRACE (echoes request),
  • OPTIONS (returns supported HTTP methods),
  • CONNECT (converts request to a TCP/IP tunnel),
  • PATCH (applies modifications to resource).

HTTP responses and HTTP status codes

Let’s also take a brief look at the responses. The response of the server after a request does not only contain the response body, the HTML code for the output of the loaded page, but also the response header fields. These fields contain important information and parameters about the HTTP transaction in the established connection, e.g. the used encryption algorithm or cache mechanisms. For the sake of completeness I should mention that such important parameters are also send in the request in the request header fields.

http status codes

The first line of the HTTP response always contains the so-called status code that helps the client to handle the response properly. Who does not know the notorious “Server Error 500” message? Exactly, this is the status code 500 that was sent by the server due to internal problems to the browser. There are several main categories that can be recognized by the first digit:

  • 1[xx] – Informational,
  • 2[xx] – Successful,
  • 3[xx] – Redirection,
  • 4[xx] – Client Error,
  • 5[xx] – Server Error.

Advantages of HTTP/2

HTTP/2 supports most of the high-level syntax of the HTTP/1.1 revision. For instance, the request methods or the status codes are the same. The most important change was the way how data packages are framed and transported between the nodes.

The server can push data to the client even though they were not requested yet by the browser but will be required to render the page completely. Additionally requests can be multiplexed (requests or responses are combined) and pipelined (multiple requests without waiting for corresponding responses) over one single TCP connection. These improvements decrease the latency which leads to significantly better page load speed.

So, what do I need to use the HTTP/2 advantages? Both client and server have to understand and support this standard. All popular modern browsers already have HTTP/2 support fully implemented by now. Your browser will automatically load web pages over HTTP/2 if the server supports it.

How do I activate HTTP/2 on my server? Simply use Plesk!

This is really easy! As always, Plesk will do the hard work for you, while you can relax and concentrate on your business! If you have already Plesk on your server, then you are just some clicks away of supporting the modern, fast network standard.

Activate HTTP2 with Plesk

The Plesk team created the security extension Security Advisor that supports an one-click activation of HTTP/2 besides other important measures such as one-click SSL and HTTPS activation for WordPress. Open the Plesk Extension Catalog on Plesk and install the Security Advisor. The extension is completely free and will not only make your website more secure but also faster!

So long, thanks for reading and now I need to GET /coffee HTTP/2.0! 🙂