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A lot has changed in the past twelve months. Browsers have evolved, the percentage of users browsing on mobile devices continues to climb, and key metrics like site speed have never been more important.

In this quick guide, we will examine five ways you can improve your site in 2017.

Keep Your CMS, Themes, and Plugins Updated

If you’re using a content management system such as Joomla, WordPress, or Grav, then there is a good chance updates are regularly available for it and any themes and/or plugins you are using. It’s important to keep this stuff updated, and the New Year is a great opportunity to catch up on any out-of-date bits and pieces in your website. It’s also recommended to test all updates on a non-production server first, as this will let you see any incompatibilities as third-party theme and extension builders catch up with unexpected changes in new CMS releases.

Give Your Site a New Look

Website design trends are constantly evolving, and if your website hasn’t had a visual touch-up in a few years, it might be time to consider doing so. Modern web design is heavy on flat elements, simplicity, and the smart use of whitespace where trends dating back just a few years ago would favor a more cluttered and 3D element appearance.

This is also an excellent opportunity to recreate the look of your site to match any additions you’ve made over the past year, or to add those bits and pieces you’ve been putting off because the current design didn’t work quite right with them.

One great way to hit the ground running with a site redesign is to pick up a theme from a theme provider. These themes usually come with an easy-to-use set of customization options so your site will look and feel exactly the way you want it to with minimal (if any) development experience required. A modern, optimized theme can also take advantage of better optimization techniques which will improve site performance, which happens to be our next tip.

Optimize for Speed

There are a lot of ways to improve the speed of your website. We’ve covered several of them in a previous blog post. But, if you haven’t put your site through some benchmarks lately, now would be an excellent time to do so. Free website speed testing services such as Pingdom’s Website Speed Test will benchmark your site’s page load times and give you insight into how you can improve performance. Search engines like Google or Bing take page load time into account when determining how high to rank a webpage in search results. If your website is slower than another one with similar content, you might end up lower on the search results page for that reason.

Also consider faster hosting providers. Not all hosting services are created equal, and there are exceptional low-cost alternatives to traditional hosting out there such as Amazon AWS which offer scalable hosting services that meet a wide range of needs.
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