Change is in the Air… on the Web

By Charlie Scala

Change is in the air, and it’s a good thing. The Internet is getting better. Recent standards upgrades by Google and browsers are making the web a more secure and faster performing place to be. But which updates really matter? Here’s what you need to know for your website.

When it comes to the Web, change is a good thing.

When it comes to the Web, change is a good thing. Think back to the first people who used the Internet: government officials, research scientists, and education professionals. They thought of the Internet (and later the web) as a place where people like themselves would exchange information. They didn’t consider e-commerce, hackers, phishing, and other complications.

They also used terminals hooked up to mainframes where processing time and other resources were shared, or (later) desktop computers with (by today’s standards) slow processors and connections.

Ok, now come back to present day. We’re using the web for many more tasks than posting on discussion boards. We’re using it in the palm of our hands, too.

As a result, web standards need to change to keep our activities as safe and speedy as possible.

We’ve established changes need to happen. And while they are a good thing, they do come at a slight cost. The downside of these changes is that they can affect our existing websites. You may experience some of these changes as a user or as the point person on your company’s site.

Two recent changes that are very important involve SSL and document.write.

More and more browsers are marking sites that don’t provide an SSL connection as “unsafe.” This goes for sites that offer e-commerce as well as brochure sites. PINT recommends adding SSL to your site to avoid this mark on your site. In most cases it can be added quickly and easily. It may have SEO benefits, but it will definitely improve user experience to look secure.

Eventually, if you don’t add SSL you will be called out. Here is an example of how non-HTTPS sites will eventually look in Chrome.

Document.write is an HTML DOM API that allows JavaScript to write HTML expressions or even additional JavaScript into a document. It was once quite common in web programming, especially for testing purposes, and older third party scripts and tools may still rely on it.

The problem is that it can severely slow performance, especially for bandwidth-constrained mobile users, and Google has taken note of this. For instance they found that pages that use document.write to load third party JavaScript can take up to twice as long to load as those that don’t, over 2G connections. As a result, Google Chrome is going to stop loading pages with this code. In time, your site simply will not load if it contains this code. The fix is usually pretty simple, but it’s an important one if you want your site to load for visitors!

Updates are not a luxury. Behind the scenes upgrades to websites are important for several reasons:

  1. They help keep your site secure
  2. They improve site performance
  3. Security and speed improve user experience

Beyond major CMS updates, we try to only contact our clients about important changes on the web. These two are pretty important, and the second one could potentially be catastrophic. We’re proactively telling you about these changes so you can address them before they cause a problem.

Wondering which notifications are critical? You can always forward your web development team a message you receive or ask questions. Or, you can get proactive. Our tech team can perform a thorough site review and prioritize any updates for your review.

This article was originally published on the PINT, Inc. blog.


Originally published at medium.com on October 10, 2016.

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