Category Archives: Guest Posts

Let’s Make the Web Faster – Images

Photography Credit: Made U Look Photography

Beautiful photographs are our bread and butter. They’re eye-catching, enticing and transcend language barriers. But they are often the heaviest elements on a web page and so they’re the focus of today’s article on speeding up your site.

Resizing

When uploading photos to your blog you typically don’t need to preserve the original resolution. For example, the main content column of Rock n Roll Bride (i.e. this bit you’re reading now) is only 576 pixels wide while a JPEG from a 15MP camera is over eight times that. If you’re simply embedding photos in-line with the blog post, make sure you are resizing the images before uploading. WordPress will do this auto-magically leaving you one less thing to worry about but other blogging platforms may vary. I dug around and found an old photo which was saved straight from the camera, the filesize (and therefore download size, to your visitors) is 3524KB (~3MB). If you look back at last week’s article on measuring your website you will see this is around the same as our entire front page, just for a single image. However, after resizing in Photoshop to 576px wide it shrinks to just 210KB, a 16-fold reduction.

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Let’s Make The Web Faster

Photography Credit: Made U Look Photography

At the School of Rock Kat talks about the importance of serving up a snappy website experience to your visitors. A statistic from Mashable claims that one in four visitors will abandon a website that takes over four seconds to load. While visitors do tend to be more tolerant of slower websites in image-heavy markets such as photography the underlying message is still important for us to hear.

Personally, I hate waiting for really slow sites to load. If I need to see their content bad enough I’ll usually wait it out but I will rarely return and I certainly will not spend any time poking around the archives for more hidden gems, or checking out their advertisers. Instead, it’s right back to Google to click on the next search result.

The time you keep somebody waiting while loading your site on their computer is part of that first impression package, along with branding and layout. Most people understand the importance of the last two but rarely consider page speed along with them. I was looking at a photographer’s blog recently which actually took over three minutes to finish downloading, I’m not even exaggerating. I was so shocked I refreshed it to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. I’m a sucker for punishment, right?

The reason I bring this up is because I recently discovered our own page load times had gone from speedy to slouchy. This discovery flew in the face of our internal motto: Serve beautiful photography, fast.

I’ve since come to realise our website had been getting marginally slower month by month. But because Team Rock n Roll Bride has reasonably powerful computers and super-fast Internet access we never noticed it directly. It wasn’t until I was trying to load the site on a slightly outdated laptop and over a slower connection that I first became aware. And just think, as smart phones, tablets and 3G become more prevalent a light-weight, blazing-fast website is increasingly important.

So, over the last month I have been up to my elbows learning about the surprisingly complex world of page load times and I’ve picked up a few tricks which I think almost every small business could benefit from.

Benchmarking

To find out how fast (or slow) your website really is you need to gather some data. My two favourite tools for this job are Google Analytics and Google Chrome. This is where it starts to get interesting, or tricky… depending on your perspective.

Google Analytics

Around November 2011 Google Analytics started collecting page load times from approximately 1% of all visitors. This means, as long as you are using Analytics, you have some data available to you right now! Just go into your reports and choose Content > Site Speed > Overview to see the graph. The problem with this is, even with our not-insignificant traffic, a 1% sample rate creates a very erratic graph. A visitor from Uganda is going to have a much slow experience than one from the UK, for example.

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The Purple Cow: A Guest Post by Charlotte White

“Well, it doesn’t really have anything to do with cake. Shouldn’t it be something a bit more ‘cakey’?” he said.  I was really excited to be sat in my first proper ‘grown-up’ business meeting, up until this moment.

It was my first year as Restoration Cake and I was trying to get to grips with the concept of charging strangers for my creations. The afternoon was to be spent with a colleague who knew all the financial stuff. I went to the meeting with a website, a Twitter account, a growing list of orders, and a name.

“Restoration doesn’t really say ‘cake’,” he said.

The name Restoration Cake came to me in early 2009, as I sat at my dressing table (yes, I am totally spoilt) putting on my make-up to go to work in an office I absolutely hated. My boss didn’t like me and didn’t really attempt to hide this fact. I had just bought a house with the man I love and there was also this big thing looming called a ‘recession’ so I kept calm and I carried on.

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Bitchless Bride on Rock n Roll Bride: Communication is Key

You may have seen me talk about Bitchless Bride before, especially on twitter. She is my new wedding industry hero! The alter ego of a wedding planner (and no, even I don’t know her true identity!) who was sick to death of crazy bridezillas and mental wedding vendors, she set up her blog to give it to us STRAIGHT. I loooove her. She’s a hoot. And hell, she rocks a pink wig. We’re definitely destined to be BFFs.

I just about wet my pants with excitement when her video guest blog landed in my inbox. Some exclusive Bitchless Bride on Rock n Roll Bride?! Hell. Yes. We are a match made in wedding heaven. Listen up brideys, listen up wedding suppliers, cos Bitchless is about to give it to you. No holds barred.

(FYI there are a few swears in here, if you’re at work… or you’re of a delicate disposition then you might wanna save this for later…)

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“How Do I Get More Likers?!” – Facebook Tips For Wedding Professionals: A Guest Post by Cathie Watts of Phunkey Photography

Originating from New Zealand, wedding photographer Cathie Watts of Phunkey Photography is a Facebook wizz. With just shy of 11,500 ‘likes’ on her photography facebook page she boast more ‘likers’ than many full time wedding bloggers! So how did she get so popular on the social network? What things did she do to get herself ‘liked’?

This week I asked Cathie to share some of her top tips for getting started when using Facebook for your business. If you have any more specific questions for her, hit us up in the comments. I’d certainly love to read a follow up from her! Over to you Cathie…

Brand your Facebook page

A consistent and streamlined brand is essential to your small business. If you’re unsure about your branding, a good place to start is to decide on three words that you want your clients to use to describe your business. Once you have these words, be sure that all your Facebook posts clearly communicate at least two of your three words.

For example, my three words are fun, funky and professional. So I make sure that the content (‘content’ refers to everything you put on your page, from your profile picture to your ‘about’ section) I publish on my page communicates at least two of my words. Branding is a subtle art, you can’t set your ‘about’ section to say ‘Phunkey Photography: fun, funky and professional’ and expect people to just believe you… they have to feel like they’ve formed this opinion on their own… after all, actions (even digital ones) speak louder than words… right?

For more (glorious) information on branding read ‘Enchantment’ by Guy Kawasaki.

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Changing Your Persective: A Guest Post by Casey Fatchett

Ansel Adams famously said, “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”

I find myself coming back to that quote a lot. Not just as a photographer, but in life, I say to myself, “Why in the hell am I standing here? I should be standing over there!”

As photographers, our job is to observe and document. Wait, that is oversimplifying. We look at the world and we choose a way in which to convey what we ‘see’ to others. That better? Anyway, sometimes, we get so wrapped up in what we are seeing through our lens that we don’t stop and take a look at our surroundings.

Deep, I know. This whole thing is a metaphor for life, weddings, work in general… and this doesn’t just apply to photography. Whatever your profession, you need to take a time out and observe yourself and what you are doing.

If you have been working on weddings for a long time, you probably know what it is like to get into a ‘groove’. It isn’t hard to do, especially if you are working on 20…30… or more weddings a year. You just have to make sure the ‘groove’ doesn’t become a ‘rut’ where all of your work feels exactly the same. The same pictures if you’re a photographer, the same designs if you’re a stationer/cake maker/florist…  because that is not good for you or your clients.

I was recently on a photojournalism assignment that included covering the opening of a gallery show by Courtney Love. There were at least half a dozen other photographers there, all waiting to get photos of Courtney when she came in. When she finally arrived, she began talking to one of the people there and gave the crew of photographers her ‘full back’. Some of them started shouting her name. “Courtney, over here! Courtney, this way! Courtney! Courtney!” No good. I could have either stood there with the gaggle of paparazzi or I could find somewhere else to stand. So I moved around a corner and got some fantastic shots of Ms. Love talking and gesturing, with no idea she was being photographed, with the gallery sign for her show in the frame as well.

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