Changes to my portfolio

Web Development

Saturday, Mar 10th 2018

Archived portfolio

Getting feedback

Before doing anything to the website, I wanted to make a list of all the changes I needed to make, so I can see what needs to be done. I started by asking friends and family to evaluate the website and offer suggestions. Then, with the help of industry professionals from the portfolio show, I was fortunate enough to receive plenty of additional recommendations. Finally, I used my coursework feedback to finalise the list of changes.

a list of feedback recieved from the portfolio show

Minor changes

The list had a lot of small changes which were quick and easy tasks to fix. Most of the changes were behind the scenes, where some of these are quick tasks like renaming files for consistency, removing duplicate code, updating SVG to be less reliant on CSS and creating new classes to avoid using IDs in CSS.

The other changes were to improve the user experience on the website, so some of these changes were things like adding spacing to headings and sections, renaming links to be more accessible, adding form validation on empty form fields and reorganising the footer to better utilise space.

Further enhancing SEO and performance

I used a tool on the website SeoSiteCheckup where it would analyse my website and give me a score based on SEO and a list of recommendations. The score my website received was 74/100, where the main factor that was holding it back was performance optimisations. By implementing 2 key changes, my score boosted to 96/100.

SEO score of 96 out of 100 from then website SEO site checkup

The first change started by adapting the .htaccess file to both enable caching and expiry times, which improves performance as it reduces the number of HTTP requests. A blog post by Computer Hope explains that if you need the files again, the browser can load the content locally, which means less time is wasted downloading resources.

The next key change to improve performance was to reduce the file sizes, and although, all the images were optimised to satisfy this, both the CSS and JS files could be optimised. This is because, browsers don't care about how the code looks, so things like spacing and comments are wasting space. According to Joost de Valk's blog post, you can save up to 50% file sizes in some cases, so there's no real benefit to the end users by keeping it. To ensure the files could still be worked on, the minified code was created in a separate file.

Changes to the URL

My first change to the URL is migrating from HTTP to HTTPS. Even though I don't handle any sensitive data such as passwords or credit card details, users should feel safe when visiting the site as Kayce Gasques states 'Intruders both malignant and benign exploit every unprotected resource between your websites and users'.

xkcd comic, villains laughing about using torture to obtain a password from a crypto nerd
xkcd #538: Security

Secondly, I chose a specific URL format to follow so I have a canonical URL. Doing this allows search engines to know which URL I want people to see and also it also avoids the issue with duplicate pages. For my website, the preferred domain used https without the www, so within the .htaccess file, a rule was declared where any other URL format will perform a 301 redirect to the preferred URL.