The Secret to Overcoming Creative Blocks

Overcoming Creative Blocks

One of my favorite challenges at my job is learning how to be a good manager. You might have heard the expression, “people join companies and leave bosses”.

My goal as a new manager is to not be the reason someone leaves.

It's challenging to motivate, inspire, and direct people to do their job while also holding them accountable. And it's especially challenging in a creative field. You need to be in the right headspace to create.

A few weeks back one of my teammates had a creative block and was falling behind on a project. I took note to find a solution to help her get over her creative block in a hopeful and inspiring way.

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What I Learned From Nexcess

What I Learned from Nexcess

It's almost the end of 2021 and I moved on from Nexcess. I created a new LinkedIn Learning course about Speeding Up Your WordPress site and then I joined Paid Memberships Pro. That's a lot of new work things in a year.

But before I get into why I joined PMPro I want to share some of the things I learned at Nexcess. Because I learned a lot of valuable lessons:

  • I dove deep into the technical aspects of speed with WordPress & Magento
  • I created new onramps to the product
  • I ran some A/B tests on pricing & product pages
  • I learned how corporations look at numbers
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WordPress Plugins: Quality over Quantity

WordPress Plugins: Quality over Quantity
  1. Why Website Speed is Important
  2. How to Check & Monitor Your Website Speed
  3. How Websites Slowdown
  4. Optimizing Static Vs Dynamic Sites
  5. How Hosting Affects Your Website Speed
  6. Server Location Matters More Than You Think for Website Speed
  7. Optimize Images
  8. Why You Should Always Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  9. Offload Audio & Video Files
  10. Lazy Websites are Fast Websites
  11. Yes, Your Theme Can Affect Site Speed
  12. WordPress Plugins: Quality over Quantity

When I worked at Nexcess we had a 15-day performance challenge. You would submit your site & admin credentials. We’d take your site and optimize it for you on Nexcess servers and then show you the results. This was a fantastic program because we'd almost always convert the user into a customer. It also helped us understand our customers & where they often get stuck while speeding up their site.

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Yes, Your Theme Can Affect Site Speed

WordPress Theme Affect Site Speed
  1. Why Website Speed is Important
  2. How to Check & Monitor Your Website Speed
  3. How Websites Slowdown
  4. Optimizing Static Vs Dynamic Sites
  5. How Hosting Affects Your Website Speed
  6. Server Location Matters More Than You Think for Website Speed
  7. Optimize Images
  8. Why You Should Always Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  9. Offload Audio & Video Files
  10. Lazy Websites are Fast Websites
  11. Yes, Your Theme Can Affect Site Speed
  12. WordPress Plugins: Quality over Quantity

In the WordPress world it’s common to hear that your theme should control the look & feel of your site and plugins should control the functionality.

That’s always been a best practice in WordPress. But it’s even more important when you start considering speed. You really want to make sure your theme is doing as little as possible outside of the look & feel.

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Lazy Websites are Fast Websites

Lazy Loading Websites are Fast Websites
  1. Why Website Speed is Important
  2. How to Check & Monitor Your Website Speed
  3. How Websites Slowdown
  4. Optimizing Static Vs Dynamic Sites
  5. How Hosting Affects Your Website Speed
  6. Server Location Matters More Than You Think for Website Speed
  7. Optimize Images
  8. Why You Should Always Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  9. Offload Audio & Video Files
  10. Lazy Websites are Fast Websites
  11. Yes, Your Theme Can Affect Site Speed
  12. WordPress Plugins: Quality over Quantity

Most people consider being lazy a vice – something that you have to overcome to do cool things. But in web development, lazy loading can be a powerful tool.

Lazy loading is a design pattern in computer science where you defer initialization of an object until the point at which it is needed.

In web development it’s pretty similar. Basically you don’t load an asset until you need it.

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Offload Audio & Video Files

Offload Audio and Video Files
  1. Why Website Speed is Important
  2. How to Check & Monitor Your Website Speed
  3. How Websites Slowdown
  4. Optimizing Static Vs Dynamic Sites
  5. How Hosting Affects Your Website Speed
  6. Server Location Matters More Than You Think for Website Speed
  7. Optimize Images
  8. Why You Should Always Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  9. Offload Audio & Video Files
  10. Lazy Websites are Fast Websites
  11. Yes, Your Theme Can Affect Site Speed
  12. WordPress Plugins: Quality over Quantity

There are a ton of tools out there to deliver static files like JavaScript, CSS, & images like CDNs. But there are a few other types of media you might have on your site namely audio & video files.

And just like JS, CSS, & images which can be handled by CDNs we want to offload audio & video files to external services to reduce the load on your web server and to have locations around the world to serve these files from the closest location.

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Why You Should Always Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  1. Why Website Speed is Important
  2. How to Check & Monitor Your Website Speed
  3. How Websites Slowdown
  4. Optimizing Static Vs Dynamic Sites
  5. How Hosting Affects Your Website Speed
  6. Server Location Matters More Than You Think for Website Speed
  7. Optimize Images
  8. Why You Should Always Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  9. Offload Audio & Video Files
  10. Lazy Websites are Fast Websites
  11. Yes, Your Theme Can Affect Site Speed
  12. WordPress Plugins: Quality over Quantity

One common piece of advice you'll hear when you're trying to speed up your site is to “use a CDN”. A CDN stands for a content-delivery-network. 

A content delivery network is similar to a web server but there are two key differences:

  1. CDNs store static assets. Like images, CSS files, and Javascript files. They don’t process web pages
  2. Most medium-size websites have a single web server. But they can have dozens or hundreds of CDN locations around the world. And CDNs use geolocation to send visitors to the closest CDN.
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Optimize Images

Optimize Images
  1. Why Website Speed is Important
  2. How to Check & Monitor Your Website Speed
  3. How Websites Slowdown
  4. Optimizing Static Vs Dynamic Sites
  5. How Hosting Affects Your Website Speed
  6. Server Location Matters More Than You Think for Website Speed
  7. Optimize Images
  8. Why You Should Always Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  9. Offload Audio & Video Files
  10. Lazy Websites are Fast Websites
  11. Yes, Your Theme Can Affect Site Speed
  12. WordPress Plugins: Quality over Quantity

Optimizing images is a surprisingly important part of speeding up your website. They can often be 60% of a page's total weight according to Google.

If you can optimize an aspect that controls 60% of your page load you'll very likely see some big gains. There are some simple things you should do & some things that even the pros forget.

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Server Location Matters More Than You Think for Website Speed

Server Location Website Speed
  1. Why Website Speed is Important
  2. How to Check & Monitor Your Website Speed
  3. How Websites Slowdown
  4. Optimizing Static Vs Dynamic Sites
  5. How Hosting Affects Your Website Speed
  6. Server Location Matters More Than You Think for Website Speed
  7. Optimize Images
  8. Why You Should Always Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  9. Offload Audio & Video Files
  10. Lazy Websites are Fast Websites
  11. Yes, Your Theme Can Affect Site Speed
  12. WordPress Plugins: Quality over Quantity

The internet feels like a place where your location doesn’t matter. We’re used to seeing content & interacting with people from around the world. And no matter where you are online it feels like every site is equally close.

One concept that might surprise new website owners is that the location of your web server matters. I live in Denver Colorado and if I want to access a web server in Denver it’s going to be much faster than one in Europe, South America, or Asia.

To illustrate this let’s do some speed tests around the world. My web server is in South Carolina. On the east coast of the US. So let’s test our site with a couple of different locations to see how much it could help.

I’ll be using the KeyCDN speed test since they make it really easy to test locations.

  • New York – 800 ms
  • London – 1.59 s
  • Bangalore – 3.12 s
  • Tokyo – 3.85 s
Server location response delay

If your server is a half continent away it could add a 1/2 second easy. If it's on the other side of the world it could add 1-2 seconds.

My advice to you is to make sure your webserver is located in the same continent as your audience – or the largest chunk of your audience.

Since I’m catering to a US audience with my site I’m very happy where I am and don’t need to change anything. If you are thinking about moving server locations first ask your host because they likely have a server location closer to your customers and it’s much easier to move between data centers than to setup a whole new hosting account.