A black and white photograph of Fred Ostrovskis

Company Update - Fred Has Finished His Master’s Degree!

I’m very happy to report that I’ve now graduated with merit from my degree with an MSc in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics.

I started studying in late 2020, eager to further my industry knowledge and delve into the world of data, which is fast becoming an integral tool for businesses of any size.

Studying whilst maintaining my work responsibilities and growing the company was hard, but with the support of our fantastic team and clients I managed to get through and complete the course without too many tears…

So, What Did I Study?

My course was broken into 4 modules, along with a capstone project. 

The Modules I took were:

• Strategic Thinking in Digital Marketing

• Communicating in the Digital Age

• Driving Insight from Data Analytics

• Digital Change, Innovation and Disruption

My capstone project was on internal marketing implementation.

Each of these modules enabled me to take the theory I was learning and directly apply it to the real world of business, be that through Wilkes Wood or the various clients who were happy to be involved.

This greatly expedited my learning, and I was able to immediately see what the most useful elements of my education were, how to best wield them, and what this would mean for our clients and ourselves.

A black and white photograph of Fred Ostrovskis

So, What Does This Mean For Our Clients?

I now have a much greater understanding of marketing strategy when it comes to the digital world – this has enabled me to think more holistically when talking to clients, and I feel like we are much better placed to help clients get the absolute most out of our services.

All we care about is helping businesses grow and succeed, and furthering my understanding of strategy and being in an environment where phenomenal mentors were advising me on implementation has already shown great returns for ourselves and our clients.

I believe the course has also enabled me to better communicate with clients regarding data, analysis and performance reporting.

I know exactly what metrics/KPIs to set for a variety of channels, goals and contexts, and feel extremely confident in accurately measuring performance and reacting positively and proactively to data reports. 

I also took the opportunity to learn as much as possible about team management, leadership and internal marketing.

I deeply care about the people I work with, whether that’s our team or our clients, and want to ensure I am always furthering my own ability to foster an environment that gets the best out of all of us whilst promoting the values, ethos and culture we are all driven by.

That’s a very long winded way of saying I think undertaking this Master’s has made me much, much better at my job. That’s good news for everyone, I hope!

A photograph of Fred Ostrovskis's Graduation Certificate

What’s Next?

I will continue to push myself to learn as much about the industry as possible, but I think university is a closed book for now.

I am finding great enjoyment in learning from great mentors that I have around me, and have plenty of short courses, industry reports and tutorials at my fingertips to keep pushing me forward.

I also am blessed with a job that enables me to take a deep look inside businesses of all shapes and sizes and across nearly every sector imaginable, so the amount I am able to learn from our clients is absolutely incredible – so thank you for that!

On the topic of thanks, I’d like to extend mine to James for being the best business partner I could ask for, as well as my close friends and family who constantly encourage me to push myself and develop.

I look forward to using this knowledge and experience to bring our clients better results and, as is our mantra, help you grow.

Follow me on LinkedIn if you’d like to be kept in the loop with what I’m learning and reflecting on…


A photograph of a car speedometer

Why Is Site Speed So Important & How Can I Measure Site Speed?

What Is Site Speed?

Page speed refers to the amount of time between a browser requesting a page and actually completing processing/rendering the page content. 

An often overlooked metric, site speed has become an increasingly important factor in ensuring you’re providing the most optimal experience for users and search engines. 

It’s no secret that when it comes to the digital world, attention spans are low and competition is high. That means every second counts when you’re trying to keep site visitors engaged and converting.

Every millisecond counts too, as a recent study showed that a decrease in page speed by just 500 milliseconds had an adverse affect on user experience!

A photograph showing light using slow shutter speed to indicate speed

Who Does Site Speed Matter To?

The simple answer is: Site Visitors & Google.

Google measures your site and content across over 200 factors when determining your page ranking, and it’s safe to say that it cares about speed, and pays careful attention to mobile performance too.

Google tests your site by simulating its performance on 4G, with poor results potentially kicking your website from any significant rankings – that means if you’re not optimising your site speed at all, you can say goodbye to the first page of results with potentially disastrous consequences for your website, objectives, and conversions.

But, Google wouldn’t care about site speed if people didn’t.

When it comes to user experience, speed/efficiency matters. This isn’t just a rule for websites – if you went to meet your friend at a cafe and ordered a couple of sandwiches, you wouldn’t want to wait for a couple of hours for your food to arrive.

In fact, if that happened, there’s a good chance you’d leave, tell people about your poor experience, and refrain from ever going back. That’s what a site visitor is likely to do if your page keeps them waiting…

A photograph of a car speedometer

Why Does Site Speed Matter?

So, now we’ve established that users and search engines care about your site performance just as much as one another, we can dig a little deeper into what this means…

1 – Site Speed Affects Conversion Rates

Whether you sell your products/services online or not, your website will be trying to encourage some form of conversion – be that a purchase, newsletter sign up, or a lead gen form, and site speed has a direct impact on this.

There have been countless studies that demonstrate this – with one survey finding that close to 70% of site visitors believe page speed directly affects their willingness to purchase online.

Studies have shown that anything below 4 seconds is optimal for conversions, with 0-2 seconds being the sweet spot – every additional second of load time drops your conversions rates by nearly 5%!

Users stay on sites that load faster and convert at a higher rate, and even small improvements can have dramatic effects. For example, Walmart are reported to have increased their conversion rate by 2% by decreasing load time by only 1 second.

If you needed any more proof, Portent studied the difference in conversion rates between websites fully optimised for page speed and “slow” sites, finding conversions for sites loading in 1 second are 5x higher than one that loads in 10 seconds. 

They also showed that the website loading in 1 second achieved 3x the conversion rate of one loading in 5 seconds.

Evidently there’s a lot of money being left on the table if your site is lagging behind your competition!

A photograph of a laptop on a table and a user on her phone

2 – Site Speed Dramatically Affects Bounce Rate

Your website’s bounce rate reveals the percentage of site visitors who abandon your site after viewing only one single page. A high bounce rate is usually indicative of poor user experience (although there are definitely exceptions to this rule) and it can be a good metric to keep an eye on as you try and measure the impact any improvements you’re making.

Site speed has dramatic impact on the bounce rate of your website – slow to load sites have a much higher bounce rate than their swifter counterparts. A great example of this can be seen in how the BBC, arguably the most popular website in the world, reported they were losing 10% of their users for every second it took their pages to load.

They are by no means alone in this – as Google have reported similar results, showing that the probability of bounce increases 32% if your page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds.

A photograph of a neon green exit sign on a wall

3 – Slow Sites Make Unhappy Visitors

User Experience (or UX) is an important focus of any website looking to promote any sort of conversion and works in tandem with Search Engine Optimisation. We’ve explored this relationship further in a dedicated blog post if you want to dive into the detail. 

It’s all very well having a website that’s designed with UX in mind, but if your site isn’t loading quick enough to encourage visitors to stick around, all that work has gone to waste.

On average, you will see a 16% drop in customer satisfaction for just a single second delay in page load times. 

4 – Speed Is Important for SEO

Google’s algorithm has evolved massively over the past decade to better perform its primary function: provide the best user experience possible.

This means that all Google cares about is delivering the best possible result to a search engine user’s query – what makes a website the best possible result? A combination of hundreds of factors, with page speed/site performance being among them. To read more about SEO, head over to our introduction to SEO article.

A faster loading site means a better experience for the site visitor, and that’s what Google wants to provide – users visit 8.9 pages on average when your site loads in two seconds as opposed to only 3 pages if your website takes 8 seconds to load!

That means optimising your site speed can positively impact your search rankings, giving you the opportunity to drive more organic traffic to your site or store.

A photograph showing light using slow shutter speed to indicate speed

How Can I Measure & Improve Website Speed?

Luckily, there are plenty of free tools and resources out there to help you measure your site speed and performance and identify actionable steps you can take to improve your score.

Google offers plenty of resources to help with this process. Tools such as PageSpeed Insight provide you with insight on an individual webpage, providing a score for both desktop and mobile performance (it simulates a mid range mobile device using a standard mobile network to load your site), as well as some handy suggestions for improving your score.

PageSpeed Insight utilises a mixture of lab and real world data to produce its reporting, measuring your site against Google’s “core web vitals” – this gives you the ability to understand how each of the page loading process is performing.

They also have Lighthouse, which is a more holistic tool that measures your entire site, rather than one single page, using lab data under consistent conditions to create a report. This report also audits other important site elements such as SEO and accessibility.

For more information on the difference between Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights, click here.

If you’re concerned with mobile performance, check out Google’s dedicated resources which can help you create a seamless user experience across all devices.

Google isn’t the only provider of site speed testing tools by any stretch of the imagination, and there are plenty to choose from.

Pingdom is thought of as a more friendly starting point for those of you who are new to performance analysis, and provides a speed score between 0-100 for you to measure against – another popular alternative is GTMetrix.

Both of these tools can deliver key insight and help you record benchmarks as you continue to try and optimise your site performance.

A screenshot of a Site Speed Tool in use

What Factors Affect Site Speed?

Site speed can be influenced by a variety of factors, but there are some common culprits: Page Weight, Network Conditions, and Hosting.

What Is Page Weight & How Does It Affect Site Speed?

Page weight refers to the overall size of your web page. The heavier the page, the more resources it takes to load.

This means that you’re likely going to have to balance providing a rich user experience with ensuring your website isn’t becoming too unwieldy to load in a reasonable amount of time.

You might think that this problem is getting better as the years go by, but that’s not the case. As websites become more interactive, rich and complex, the average weight of web pages is actually increasing due to JavaScript files, video and image content, heavy CSS, bloated plugins, pop-ups and other banners, animations, backgrounds and more.

It’s tempting to try and make your website as visually interesting as possible with animations, videos and interactive sections, but did you know that 50% of site visitors say they’d be willing to give up animation and video if it led to faster loading times?

Content is arguably the place you can make the largest impact on load time – there’s often some low hanging fruit that can be addressed very swiftly to great results. Here are three easy fixes that you could look into:

  • Image Optimisation & Compression – Cutting down unnecessarily large image files can be a swift and effective way to improve page load times – with Google finding 25% of pages could easily save more than 250KB, and 10% of pages can save more than 1MB!

 

  • Clean Up Your Code – Unused code can bog down page speed; rid yourself of any useless code and you may see improvements to your performance.

 

  • Be Lazy – Lazy loading refers to a technique that defers “non-critical resources” at the initial load of your page – this allows the browser to initially load just what’s needed for the page to be visible  and then subsequently load additional content in the background.

A photograph of vintage scales in use

How Hosting & Network Conditions Affect Your Site Speed

Network conditions may mean that your website, regardless of whether it is lightweight or not, loads slower than you’d like it to. This is dictated by the equipment used and the quality of the ISP (internet service provider).

It’s also worth noting that mobile devices are likely to be slower than those using WiFi or ethernet – with 5G not yet rolled out nationwide, mobile access is most likely going to be on 4G (82% coverage in the UK) and 3G (98.7% coverage in the UK).

Obviously, you can’t dictate what device or network someone is using to reach your site, but there are some things you can do to try and minimise the impact this will have on your performance such as compression and using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to host content.

Hosting can also have a massive impact on your site speed, with variables such as location and type of hosting you’ve used affecting the end result. 

Ranging from shared web hosting, where you’re competing for bandwidth and server resources with other websites on the same server, to dedicated hosting options that give you complete control, hosting packages vary extensively on price, ease of use and performance.

So, when you’re picking a web hosting provider – be sure you take into consideration much more than just price – look at the size of the hard drive, the power of their RAM, what bandwidth is available to you and also consider how much traffic you’re likely to receive.

Selecting a suitable package early on will save you lots of hassle further down the line and enable you to get the most out of your website right from the start.

Can You Help Make My Site Faster?

Yes! We’d be more than happy to take a look at your website and identify areas for improvement – whether that’s discussing a site rebuild or optimising your existing site or content.

For a free audit of your site, drop us a message!


Looking For Wordpress Managed Hosting? Here's 5 Reasons to Consider WPX Hosting.

Disclaimer: Some of the below links are affiliate links, so we may receive compensation at no additional cost to you. Despite this, we will only ever recommend services we have used extensively, continue to use, and trust ourselves!

An Introduction to WPX Hosting

We’ve experimented with a fair amount of hosting providers over the last 5 years of business, and have come to the conclusion that there’s only one option if you’re a smaller website looking for managed hosting: WPX.

We started using WPX in 2020, and have been incredibly impressed with their service – so much so that we’ve used WPX for a variety of client projects to great success. 

We’re not alone in our admiration – their Trustpilot reviews are almost impossibly good, with 96% positive feedback at the time of writing. This seemed, to us, too good to be true, so we went digging and unearthed an incredibly extensive study that set out to determine the reliability of these reviews…

Spoiler alert, they found that the reviews are good because WPX knows exactly who they’re catering to and provides exactly what their customers need.

We love WPX and would recommend them for a variety of clients and smaller projects, but there are certainly instances where we would opt for another hosting solution – we think WPX works best for smaller websites that don’t have extensive databases and for those that want a simple, easy to use managed hosting solution.

If you’re unsure if WPX is right for you, get in touch and we’d be more than happy to chat about your web and hosting needs.

How much is WPX Hosting?

WPX offers three separately priced packages – Business, Professional and Elite.

You can pay annually or monthly, with 2 months free hosting offered for annual payment options as well as a reduced monthly fee. Here are the two options:

WPX Pricing

As you can see, WPX is one of the more affordable hosting providers when compared to their competitors in the managed hosting space, especially when you take into consideration the factors that make WPX such a great company to work with.

Regardless of what package you choose, WPX offers a whole load of free features including DDoS protection, unlimited SSL certificates, automatic backups and more.

WPX Hosting Free Hosting Benefits

What Makes WPX Hosting So Good?

Whilst there are plenty of reasons we choose to use WPX, we thought we’d break down 5 points that set it apart from the rest for its price point – but first, let’s look at their pricing.

#1 – WPX Offers A “Fixed For You Guarantee”.

One of the most appealing features that WPX offers is their “Fixed For You Guarantee” (FFY Guarantee). This is a fantastic example of great customer service and is something we feel they absolutely excel at.

The FFY Guarantee is WPX’s promise to help get an offline website back to being live as fast as possible with as little disruption as possible. 

So, if something breaks on your site or your site experiences downtime for any reason, all you have to do is message their live-chat support and they’ll immediately get to work figuring out a solution and implementing this for you.

Our experience with other managed hosting companies is that they may help figure out the cause of the problem, but then expect you to trawl through annoying articles and then try and sort the fix out yourself.

WPX responds within 30-40 seconds, on average, and has resolved every single problem we’ve had on our packages within a few minutes of investigation. 

Oh, and all of this is free!

Obviously, there are some limitations here. WPX can’t recode or fix problems on 3rd party apps or plugins and can’t help you if you’ve got internet issues at your end, nor can they help with fixes to visual elements on your site.

Their priority is getting your site back up and running, not making your actual website better (however, that’s something we can help with!).

WPX Hosting Fixed For You Guarantee

#2 – WPX Is Fast.

Speed matters when it comes to hosting, and a slow hosting provider can have a tremendously negative impact on your website’s performance. This can then lead to issues with SEO and UX and waste a lot of the hard work you’ve put into your website.

It’s safe to say that when we were looking for a managed hosting provider for our clients, speed was at the top of our list of requirements.

It’s a good job then that there are plenty of independent, and we mean actually independent, reviewers have come to the conclusion that WPX is fast

These include industry leading reviewers such as Kevin Ohashi (of ReviewSignal and WpHostingBenchmarks) and Matthew Woodward – two of the most respected industry names.

These tests pitted WPX against competitive big hitters, with the results speaking for themselves. 

When Matthew Woodward conducted his tests, WPX was fastest to load image heavy sites & plugin heavy sites and performed fantastically when undergoing stress tests. 

WPX also came out on top with Kevin Ohasi’s test results – achieving “Top Tier” rewards across all price categories, from >$25 all the way through to $51-100 per month tiers.

What more could you want? For our clients that have migrated from slower rivals, the difference in their site performance is undeniable. 

#3 – WPX’s Customer Support Is Phenomenal

As we’ve mentioned, hosting providers need to offer good enough speed and technical performance to enable you to get the most out of your website, but for us these technical elements are just the start of the story.

We would rather go with a hosting provider that is slightly slower than a competitor if the hosting provider in question offered faultless customer service.

Luckily for us, we’ve found WPX – so we don’t need to choose between performance & support.

We think WPX’s 24/7 dedicated live chat and support functions are the best we’ve ever experienced, and our clients have absolutely loved how responsive and professional the service is every step of the way.

We’ve already mentioned the “Fixed for You Guarantee”, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg – their live chat support is immediately available on the site whether you’re a customer or not, so you can chat to a real operator about any technical requirements, questions or concerns prior to signing up for a package.

They’ll then help you with any migrations (more on this later) or issues that need resolving. 

But, the thing that really makes them stand out for us is the fact they’re proactive. 

They’re actually looking for ways to give you a better user experience all of the time. Just yesterday, we logged onto WPX and saw that they had automatically given ALL customers 50% more disk space and 100% more bandwidth across every hosting plan.

#4 – WPX Removes Malware & Provides Automatic BackUps for Free

Much of what makes WPX a great managed hosting provider is their ability to give you peace of mind through their offering – and these two points do just that.

Knowing that WPX will clean your site for free if you somehow get infected with malicious code/malware is a massive bonus, and as long as you abide by their terms of service (which essentially say you shouldn’t give your password out like candy, avoid cracked plugins and themes and keep all plugins etc up to date) you can rest assured that you’re covered in case of malware attacks.

In addition, WPX’s servers are fully secured so even if you were to be infected with malware, the functionality of the main server is maintained!

For even further reassurance, your website is automatically backed up every single day onto a separate server, which is then stored for 28 days. This means if you manage to break your site or need to restore a previous version of your site for whatever reason, WPX have you covered!

#5 – Free Website Migrations

This service is an absolute belter, and our clients love how easy it is to move from their previous hosting provider to WPX.

If you’re using an existing hosting provider and find that you’d like to make the move over to WPX we’ve got some good news to share with you – they’ll handle it!

If you’d like WPX to manage the migration for you, all you need to do is hop onto their website and open a live chat with their support team. They’ll ask you to give some details about your current website hosting, purchase the right package on WPX itself, and then you’re good to go – they’ll handle the rest of the process for free.

WPX migrations typically take up to 24 hours – so after a day, give or take a few hours, they’ll have your site ready to go on the platform!

What Next?

If you’re looking to move hosting provider to WPX or you’re in need of a great managed Wordpress hosting provider for a new web project, click here to be taken to their website.

Alternatively, get in touch with us to discuss how we can help you with your website and hosting needs!