Drupal

North Texas Drupal Users Group September Meetup- Drupal 8 Revisted

The summer doldrums and vacations are over, time to get back to the North Texas Drupal Users Group meetups that FireRoad Digital organizes.

We'll be taking another look at Drupal 8, as it approaches its one year anniversary, and its upcoming 8.2 release.

We have a great speaker for this meetup, from one of the biggest Drupal agencies in the word - FFW Center of Excellence Director Ray Saltini.

Full details and RSVP on our NTXDUG Meetup page.  See you there!

Mobile Performance with Drupal - Part 1, Testing

I don't think you need yet another blog post to tell you mobile is becoming a bigger and bigger thing. Your website has to look good and perform well on mobile - you know that. But is it? How do you tell? How do you improve?

We here at FireRoad Digital are very data driven. So our process for improving mobile performance for our client Drupal sites uses the same general methodology we use for most everything:

  1. Implement best practices techniques for implementatng a certain functionality or improvement, based on our experience with developing and enhancing literally figuratively millions of Drupal websites
  2. Test, measure, analyze the results
  3. Iterate based on what we've learned

Let's look at our own FireRoad website as an example of this process. We developed it in Drupal 7 to be mobile responsive from the beginning, meaning it dynamically optimizes how the content and user interface is displayed and interacted with by the viewer based on the device being used. So we've already done part of Step 1- the basics- but for the sake of example, let's do some testing and analyzing of the initial website before we would normally go through our typical optimizatition process.

We can also use this opportunity to try out Test My Site, a new super easy to use and understand website usability and performance test tool from Google. Based on their PageSpeed Insights, which has been embedded in their other tools such as the Google Search Console, this tool doesn't require a Google account to use and provides results easily understandable results, with clear actions for improvement.

Let's be brave (and transparent) and run this tool on fireroaddigital.com

Google mobile test - first screen

 

Click TEST NOW and the tool will scan and process your site for a few seconds, and dispense some wisdom about mobile viewing habits and statistics while you wait.

Shortly you will see the results summary page, which for our site is ..

 

Google mobile test results summary

 

Our "mobile friendliness score is good" !  Good ... but looks like we could improve.  Click on the GET MY FREE REPORT button and Google will send you a lovely PDF with more details and action items. We can also step through the different categories right now and drill into the details.  Just scroll down ...

 

Google mobile test results- friendlinessGoogle mobile test results- SpeedGoogle mobile test results- Desktop


So what to do next?  The first category - Mobile Friendliness - shows how well we developed our mobile look & feel to both look good on mobile devices, as well as be optimized for mobile interaction. Looks like we've done pretty well there- the general process of developing Drupal mobile friendliness deserves a blog post of its own, including Drupal theming, media querries, Bootstrap and grids, and lots more ... which we totally should get around to writing one of these days. But looks like there are still a few points we could eke out with some tweaking.

We did the worse on the second category - Mobile Speed. We already run on the fastest, most powerful Drupal hosting platform around - Pantheon - with plenty of processing power, RAM, SSD drives, Varnish caching, and just about anythng else that can be done to increase server response. Since we are not directly managing our web server (with good reason), we do have limited options on what we can change there. On the client side, maybe some of our images are too large to download on mobile quickly. Maybe we should us e a Content Delivery Network. Maybe we haven't configured caching on the client side correctly. Lots of options here.

And thirdly, this test looks at our desktop speed. There will be some similar criteria as the mobile speed, with more leeway given since desktop users typically have more bandwidth available and larger images are needed to fill up bigger desktop monitors.  We did well, but we won't ever be satisfied with a B+.

in parts 2,3 and 4 of this series we will look at each category - why we received the grade we did and what specifically we can do to improve each number. Stay tuned - we are going for 100 / 100 / 100 !

Longer Title and Descriptions on Google Search Results

In their often unannounced, sneaky fashion, Google has apparently snuck in an update to search results pages (SERP) that increases the size of the display Titles and Descriptions.  This gives webmasters and SEOs more room to describe and market pages!

The previous generally-accepted guidance for page title lengths was around 55 characters before Google chopped it off ... now it looks like you can to 65-70 characters.

For page descriptions, 150-160 characters was the consensus length, which generally came in around 2 lines ... now we are sometimes seeing 3 lines, and up to 15-20 more characters per line. That is a lot more space to descirbe your pages.

Here is a very recent example of a Google search:

So what to do with this new exciting update? Update your pages with longer page titles and meta descriptions! Give it a day or two, then check your search results and see how it looks. Iterate and tweak as needed.

And how do you do that on your Drupal website?  Our Implementing Google Ranking Factors in Drupal guide will give you the step-by-step details, or you can just make sure you are running the Drupal Metatag module and use it to set detailed, active and unique description and page titles for you home page and all other pages on your site. Be sure to check your Google Search Console results for what Google thinks of your page titles and descriptions.

North Texas Drupal March Meetup - Personalization

For the March meetup of the North Texas Drupal Users Group, Brent Bice will be presening on Web Personalization with Drupal.


Although personalization is not a new concept, marketing savvy organizations are beginning to leverage data and apply new personalization concepts to improve user experiences and increase conversion and retention rates. 

In this session, Brent will:

• provide context around personalization - what is it, who's using it in Drupal, how can it helpDiscuss the many challenges organizations face with implementing personalization

• walk you through a strategic roadmap to prepare for its implementation

• examine Drupal-based solutions that will help you implement it easier

• walk away with the knowledge needed to improve your brand and your marketing!

Come visit and learn with your fellow local Drupal developers, sitebuilders and site owners!  More info on our Meetup page.

North Texas Drupal Holiday 2015 Party

Well, we haven't been able to get any speakers for Fall meetups, but that doesn't mean we can't have a social Holiday party!

The Free Play Arcade opens in a couple weeks and features 60+ vintage video and pinball games, craft beer, and food.  What else do you need?

So come on our, have some fun, meet some Druplers, and we can talk about Drupal 8 while we obliterate various vector-based space enemies.

Monday, Dec 14th.  More details and RSVP on the North Texas Drupal meetup page.