Site Speed: how to audit and improve

Is your site fast enough? User experience is a critical part of any website build or design. And site speed is an important part of that experience. Users want the page to load in few seconds or they lose interest and leave.  This is particularly true for mobile users. Site speed has also become an important element in search engine rankings. Back in 2010, Google started including site speed in their page ranking algorithm. If you’re concerned that your site isn’t fast enough, you don’t need to do a full redesign. Instead, you can do an audit of your site speed and make a number of improvements. See how we did this for one of our clients below.

Performance audit

The website that we wanted to run the speed audit for is very large. It includes multiple tools and directories for the visitors as well as reports, press releases, and
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Don’t be a Jerk: A Humane Approach to Client Management

My job as COO of Brick Factory is to figure out how to make our company better – part of which is making sure our company’s core values are reflected in the work we do. In the case of client management, we feel very strongly that being honest, fair and supportive with our clients is the only way to develop successful long-term relationships. I had the chance to talk a bit about our approach to working with clients at this year’s DrupalCon in Baltimore, MD. Here are the three major points that I discussed in my session:

1. Being honest and transparent with our clients.

We try to arm clients with as much information as possible up-front – this builds trust, helps clients make informed decisions about their projects, and also helps avoid unhappy surprises for clients after we start work.

2. Being generous with our knowledge and expertise.

We
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Risky Business: Seven Ways to Avoid Problem Projects

As the owner of a web development firm, one of my primary jobs is to manage risk. When taking on new projects, I am betting that we can complete the work in the time we have estimated. If we win our bet, we have solid profit margins and a healthy work environment. If we lose our bet, we throw our schedule into chaos, stress out our team, and lose money. What makes this process so risky is that I have to make budget decisions about the projects we take on based on imperfect information. There is no way to know for sure how much time a website will take to build until it is finished. While different pricing models and approaches can mitigate risk, ultimately the client needs some idea how much a project is going to cost before they will agree to work with you. It goes without saying
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Webinar: How to Build a Component-based Drupal Site with Stacks

The frontend world is buzzing with talk of pattern libraries, atomic design, and component-based design. The benefits of implementing a component-based system have been discussed ad nauseam, but how can we fully integrate these concepts into a Drupal site? Better yet, how can we bring a component-based page building experience to the Drupal admin? The Brick Factory recently released a Beta version of Stacks, a contributed module that fully integrates component-based design and development into Drupal.  Stacks breaks content into reusable components called widgets. Once configured, widgets give content managers the ability to build rich, beautiful pages in Drupal.  The easy-to-use admin tools allow for drag and drop editing, reusable content, theme options and much more. Join us on May 31 at 2:00 pm ET  for a webinar in which we explore ways to improve the Drupal frontend and content admin using the Stacks module. We will cover:

14 Takeaways from Drupalcon Baltimore

We went big at Drupalcon Baltimore this year. We were a Silver sponsor of the overall conference, sponsored the nonprofit summit, and half our team attended. We learned a lot and had a great time exploring Baltimore. Here are some reflections on our experience this year. (1) Our Chief Operating Officer Hannah Del Porto participated in this year’s prenote. The prenote is a sort of bizarre Drupal-inspired hour long variety show that kicks off the conference every year. Watching Hannah dance and sing while dressed up as a koala bear gave us all great joy. (2) On a personal note, this GIF I made of Hannah participating in the aforementioned prenote is probably the greatest piece of art I ever created. (3) In his keynote talk, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert said that the upgrade path for Drupal 9 will be much simpler than what we’ve seen previously. Traditionally Drupal has
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Four ways to keep your team unblocked and the work flowing

One of the most challenging parts of running a web development firm is workflow management.  Inevitably members of our Brick Factory team get blocked, meaning they can’t complete their work while they wait on someone else to make a decision or perform a task.  Blocking is a huge problem, as it can result in delays, budget overruns and unnecessary fire drills. In this post we  explain what it means to be blocked, why it is such a big problem and provide some tips on how to keep the work flowing.

Why do people get blocked?

We are a mid-sized web development firm of around twenty people.  A typical project might take 400-500 hours spread out among 5-6 staff to complete.   A project team usually looks something like this:

Twitter: Who, What, When, Where, and Why?

One of our goals in 2017 is to improve our social media strategy. We want data to inform our strategy, understand what content our audience likes best, and identify best practices for posting to our Twitter account. In order to achieve this, we started reviewing all of our 2016 Twitter content and broke it down into a number of categories and components:
  • Media type: graphic, articles, blogs, case studies, photos, videos, and text
  • Content topics: office culture, current affairs, design, web development, strategy, and marketing
  • Tweet time
  • Tweet length
  • Hashtags
We then calculated the engagement rate by dividing the sum of all reactions (replies, likes, and retweets) by the number of impressions. Through this process several trends and patterns became apparent which should help us improve the performance of our tweets.

What type of content should I post:

The first thing we did was break our content into media types
content-types
content-by-topic
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