Web tech is changing fast! It used to be that graphic designers could get by with a little CSS and some HTML to create great websites.
Do you have the most in-demand webmaster skills for 2017 and beyond?
Converting Sites to HTTPS
The most in-demand web tech skill for 2017 will be to build or convert a site to HTTPS.
Like it or not, need it or not, Google is going to keep beating the drum to have all sites deliver their content via an encrypted connection.
Fortunately, more hosts are supporting free SSL certificates like Let’s Encrypt.
That means non-transactional site owners (no store or membership) won’t have to purchase a certificate or dedicated domain just to convert to HTTPS.
But the SSL certificate is the least element that causes issues or confusion when converting a site.
And SSL plugins just don’t cut it!
They leave your site with all manner of redirects and bloat that can:
- Slow performance
- Undermine security
Having a pre checklist of all the items that will be affected and need to be addressed prior to the conversion are key.
Plus, knowing how to manually:
- Make original copies of the files that will be affected
- Make a copy of the database
- Safely convert the database with scripts that are WordPress aware
- Enforce HTTPS and Strict Transport Security from the host to the browser
- Convert all third party sites, like Google Search Console, analytics, social media sites and more
It’s also important to know how to easily flip everything back to the original in case you run into something catastrophic.
Hacker attacks of all kinds have ramped up significantly since 2014. Keeping sites secure has become more important than ever.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you’re paid money to install a site and don’t know how to do it securely, you’re running an irresponsible business.
Those behemoth security plugins are not enough either!
Real site security starts at the root of the hosting account.
In site audits, I find an average of 26 security holes that no plugin or scanner can detect. And the majority of them can’t be found or seen from within the WordPress admin either.
Security goes beyond hack prevention and brute force attacks.
Taking measures to disable certain features of WordPress, like XML-RPC so your site can’t be used in a DDoS attack are important too.
Slow sites lose money. Period.
But getting to the bottom of what’s causing the performance drains can be tough.
Here’s the thing.
Security and performance go hand in hand. When there are security holes that allow bots to endlessly chew up hosting resources, performance suffers.
In site audits, I find an average of 10 resource hog plugins on a site.
But one of the biggest issues I find is a lack of proper image optimization. That will kill site performance quicker than anything.
Designers need to know how to properly optimize all graphics, and teach their clients how to properly optimize all images before they are uploaded to the site.
Again, plugins to fix the problem after images are uploaded just don’t cut it.
SEO means free traffic.
One of the hottest skills for a designer to have is knowing the basics of technical SEO.
In site audits, I find a full 90% of my clients have the Yoast SEO plugin installed, but not configured.
That does more SEO harm than good.
WordPress began supporting schema markup in 2013. Google craves schema markup like candy.
But, the theme also has to support it.
Amazingly, few theme designers concern themselves with it. In fact, most designers don’t even know what it is or how it works.
And their clients are paying for that lack of knowledge by missing more organic search traffic and rankings.
Lack of Learning Shows
When I do site audits, it’s pretty easy for me to see if the designer knew what they were doing or not.
And let me tell you, site owners don’t go back to those designers for repeat business once they see the report on their site either.
Plus, when all that stuff gets fixed, they immediately see the difference too.
Ready to Up Your Skills for 2017 and Beyond?
Finding the webmaster info to get the skills you need is tough!
I’ve wasted hours and weeks of searching for it myself.
And that’s why I built the Webmaster Training courses too. Those tutorials came right out of my own cheat sheets and site audit fixes.
Plus, I literally needed to be able to work with more designers that had these core skills too. So, I began teaching them.
My webmasters have thrilled their existing clients with better sites.
It’s a great way to build confidence, qualify for new business you couldn’t even take before, and stand out from the pack too.