April 4, 2014 by Roman Ožana

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Website

Spring has arrived! It’s the perfect time of year to pack away your heavy winter clothing and start the yearly ritual of cleaning out your home. But that’s not the only thing that needs a good dusting and decluttering – it’s also a great time of year to clean up your website as well.

Keeping a website running smoothly isn’t the easiest task in the world (believe us, we understand!), but getting into the habit of periodically refreshing your website and development process can help make things more manageable.

We’ve pulled together 5 suggestions for ways you can freshen up your website and workflow to celebrate spring!

1) Get Rid of Broken Links

Let’s face it, no one likes clicking on something that doesn’t work or getting a 404 error page (even if it’s nice to look at). It gives the impression that whoever is running the site, whether it’s an individual or a company, hasn’t taken all the steps to make sure they’re prepared.

You can use Testomato or another free link checking tool like Broken Link Checker to identify bad links and error codes.

2) Remove All Your Unused Code and CSS

A browser has to download and parse any stylesheets before it can render a page. If you use a template or the same external CSS file for all your pages, a lot of style rules go unused or don’t apply to the current page.

We’ve covered what slows your website down and what you can do about it, but another great way to further minimize the latency caused by stylesheet loading and rendering time is to cut down on the CSS rules delivered to the client.

Use a tool like Dust-Me Selectors to scan your website for unused CSS selectors. You can also check out Opera’s ucss library for a more comprehensive solution.

3) Switch from Grunt to Gulp

This one is on our spring cleaning list, and we think you should add it to yours: Make the move and migrate to gulp.js.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a fan of automation (just like Team Testomato). Many websites use a JavaScript task runner to help them automate necessary but often time-consuming (not to mention tedious) tasks during development.

You might be using popular task runner Grunt.js (like we are), but our developers are planning to make the switch soon.

Gulp is built on a streamingbuild system, which uses streams and prefers code over configuration. Migrating to gulp will help us simplify complex tasks and make things easier to manage.

We suggest reading Jack Hsu’s comparison for a more detailed description of the differences between the two task runners. This tuts+ tutorial is also a great place to start if you want to learn more about gulp.

4) Two More Migrations to Consider

We like to stay current and experiment with different technology at Testomato. It’s something that helps us constantly evolve as a project and keeps us passionate as a team. We’re always looking for ways to tighten up our workflow and improve our performance.

Here’s two more migrations straight from the Testomato developers:

Migrate from Apache to Nginx

Apache may be the web server of choice right now, but Nginx is gaining ground with its reputation for its event-driven speed and need for fewer resources.

Basically, Nginx doesn’t create more processes to deal with requests. Instead, it’s able to work through a large amount of requests without having to synchronize or wait on other processes.

Learn how to migrate from Apache to Nginx on an Ubuntu VPS here.

Move from MacPorts to HomeBrew

Our developers use package managers to help automate installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing software from their operating systems. If you’re using OS X, they’ve found that HomeBrew is a simpler, leaner alternative.

Bitboxer wrote a great tutorial about migrating if you want more information about making the move.

5) Clean Out Your Database

When was the last time you removed old revisions of posts? Removed inactive accounts or unused images? All of us have the tendency to save things we’re never going to use again – and websites are no different.

We like our code clean and the same goes for our data. In fact, we just recently started our spring clean of our own database.

So whether it’s duplicate emails or old comments, take the time to go through and dump them. Cleaning up your database is not exactly fun, but it’s worth it. You’ll reduce future clutter, make your day-to-day activities easier, and improve the efficiency of your site.

A few final words of advice…

Finally, choose a tool to test your website to help you track the effect of any changes you make. You’ve probably already guessed our favorite tool for testing, but regardless of the service you choose – be sure to test.

This is an important part of measuring performance tweaks that you make and will help you identify what changes were most effective. How else will you know what to do again during next year’s spring clean?

How did these suggestions work out for you website? Do you have other tips that you used for your spring tune-up? 

Leave us a comment here or on Facebook. Or, tweet us directly @testomatocom.

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