Restructuring your website? 301 Redirects can save the day

Everyone is familiar with status code 404- Not Found. You do not want visitors to your website to encounter this error. In case you are upgrading your website to a new URL, you can forward the visits to the new location through the server, using a 301 redirect. 301 redirects come in handy in case you are upgrading, redesigning, or moving your website. It is not that these redirects are complex to implement, still many website owners and developers simply forget about them. In the process, this causes a serious hit to SEO efforts and can completely wipe away ranking in search.

To avoid something like this to happen, make sure it is incorporated into the to-do list for each project plan. Creating and managing 301 redirects is like brushing your teeth, simple but very important. It should be a core part of website design and development.

Time and again, we find frustrated website owners and bloggers reaching out on social media in case of failure. They have been on the receiving end due to a lack of 301 redirects which should have been done while updating or redesigning the websites and blogs.

So developers and SEO experts need to educate themselves on the importance of 301 redirects, which are really easy to implement actually.

Let’s do a quick recap on what 301 redirects are and few ways to go about it.

What is a 301 Redirect?

Simply put, a 301 redirect takes the visitor from the old web page location to a new one when it has been moved permanently. A user may input the old URL. If 301 redirects are applied, the server will send back the status code 301 – Permanently Moved, and then redirect you to the new location. This happens in just a couple of seconds so that a user does not see the process behind it. You will simply find yourself on the content you were looking for, but if you will look closely, the URL has changed automatically to the new one.

Other than redirecting the server, 301 redirects are also linked with the SEO of the post/page. Search engines like Google or Bing can be redirected to the new destination to access prior SEO visibility. This way ranking of the page is not affected and you can still reap the benefits of organic traffic.

When to Use a 301 Redirect

  1. You’ve changed a URL and you want your traffic and SEO history, from the old URL rerouted to the new URL.
  2. You’re merging two websites and want to make sure that links to outdated URLs are redirected to the correct pages.
  3. There are multiple URLs to access your web page and you want all of them to land on a single destination. You can choose one of them as a canonical/preferred URL and apply 301 redirects on others to land at the same destination.

Setting Up 301 Redirects

You have a lot of options as to how you want to proceed with setting up 301 redirects. Some are high-end and more suitable for developers, while others are more user-friendly can be easily implemented by the end-users. We will discuss three methods here to use and recommend:

  1. .htaccess file for Apache

The most followed procedure for websites that are hosted on servers running Apache, is to edit your site’s .htaccess file. You can locate this file in your site’s root folder.

Here are some snippets of code for adding common types of 301 redirect via .htaccess file:

  • When you are just “moving” a site to a new domain. Place this on the OLD site:

  • When redirecting a single page:

  1. Redirection Plugin for WordPress

Are you using WordPress? Make use of the free Redirection plugin to set up 301 redirects right from within your dashboard. This plugin is very intuitive and even website owners or bloggers can use it easily. This is how it would look like:

  1. WP Engine Dashboard

It is very easy with WP Engine hosting too. 301 redirects are linked right within your WP Engine dashboard. Again this whole process becomes very innate and every regular joe can venture into their account easily and go about adding the necessary 301 redirects. It is sufficient to go through the quick tutorial about the 301 processes to get you started.

Final Thoughts

We have discussed the usability of 301 redirects in terms of SEO history and PageRank. You just need to keep a few points in mind while redirecting. Firstly, do not redirect to a page with a different intent than the original one. For example, it may infuriate a user who wanted to access your home page but lands on the blog of your website after the redirect. Also, it is better to create a redirect first before migrating your website content so your site doesn’t lose traffic and SEO ranking in the process.

If you are in the planning stage of your project, just incorporate them into your to-do list. You just need to take the time to create and load them anytime you delete content, move content, or restructure your website.

Things to consider before hiring a Website Development Company

Once you decide to get a website for your business, then comes the daunting task of selecting the right web development company. You are spoilt for choices as there are many companies with a variety of offers in the market. There are a few things you can do to ensure that you are picking the right one. Basically, when starting the search you should be looking for what platforms they work on and the areas that they have experience in. It is best to request to see their previous work so that you can get a feel for their style and if it will work for you. Let’s discuss these points in detail now.

Platforms

It is best to hire a company with technically sound developers. Always make it clear with your preferred choice of platform(s). If you are looking for someone to work on the iOS platform, then you should verify that they have hands-on experience on that platform. Think it through if your requirement is for a singular platform or you need to run it on multiple platforms, such as Android and Windows. Having an expert who can create your desired software and have it working over numerous platforms is a great benefit to you and can save you money over time.

Responsive Design

It is necessary to have a responsive website. Every capable web development company if true to its salt will offer to make you one. You should not settle for less. Gone are the days when people turned to desktops for browsing. Most of the online shopping and viewing is being done on mobile phones, tablets, and other devices. It becomes critical that all of your sites have been looked at by the experts in application development and thoroughly tested. A responsive website means more conversion rates and better business.

Experience and Projects

Every web development company will have some level of experience. What you need to concern yourself with is the relevant experience. Ask them the following questions to get an idea about how they would be handling your project and what type of work to expect: 

  •  Experience of their employees
  •  Platforms worked on
  •  Previous projects

Also, ask them to give a walkthrough for some of the previous projects that they have worked on. This will help both parties to better understand each other’s point of view.

Customer Support

You will be in constant need to be in contact with the company during and sometimes after the project too. Inquire about the SPOC and type of customer support the company offers. More responsive and friendly support creates a positive customer experience. Get the list of after-sales services offered.

Final Thoughts

Once you finalize the company you want to hire for your website or software creation, be open to their suggestions too. Cash upon their experience and utilize the expertise they have gained through being in the market. They can guide you with best-regarding market trends. Gain an edge over your competitors and boost your business by using the additional related services being provided like digital marketing.

Flutter: A Futuristic Hybrid Mobile App Development Platform

For decades Objective-C and Java had dominated mobile application development for both Android and iOS. Lately, Kotlin was used widely although it is still a java based programming language. 

But recently in May 2017, Google launched Flutter. It is quickly becoming a hot favorite with mobile app developers. Flutter uses a flexible system that allows you to call platform-specific APIs whether available in Kotlin or Java code on Android, or Swift or Objective-C code on iOS. It makes developing multi-platform apps a ton of fun. The best part is that it lets you craft beautiful, user-friendly extensible mobile, web, and desktop applications from a single codebase. 

Flutter seems to be a very promising step forward and here are a few different reasons to believe this.

Powered by Dart

Flutter uses the client-optimized Dart language developed by Google. Dart is quite similar to Java in terms of syntax so most of the developers find making the switch effortless. With the exception of the syntax, Dart is a rather different language.

One of the most helpful attributes of Dart is support for asynchronous operations. Dart has come up with a way to make it exceptionally easy.

You will end up using it all the time if your Flutter application needs to do IO or other time-consuming operations such as querying a database. It is well known that without asynchronous operations, any time-consuming operations will cause the program to freeze up until they complete. To prevent this, Dart provides us with the async and await keywords that allow our program to continue execution while waiting for these longer operations to complete.

Single Platform for both Android and iOS

This is what makes Flutter a favorite among the developers. Mobile apps development was considered a time-consuming operation as you need to use a different codebase for Android and iOS. Thanks to SDK like Flutter, now you have a single codebase that allows you to build your app for both operating systems. On top of that, you can run them completely natively. Scrolling and navigation adapt accordingly to the OS being used.

As an added boon, Flutter simplifies building and running your app for testing. All you need to do is keep your device or simulator running, the rest of the process can be navigated simply by clicking a button.

UI Development

UI development is where many of the developers sweat. Creating something useful and aesthetically pleasing comes as a huge challenge. Once again, Flutter comes to the rescue.

It offers an array of widgets that can be combined and modified as per the requirement. It is amazing how customizable these widgets are, so you’ll always end up with exactly what you’re looking for. For the base layout of the UI, you have widgets such as Row, Column, and Container. For content, you have widgets like Text and RaisedButton. There are a lot more interesting options available. Let your imagination run free and create something captivating.

Everyone wants to maintain a standard theme for their app. But when you are using already coded widgets, there can be a mismatch for fonts and colors. Manually changing the fonts, colors, and looks for everything one by one, would take way too long. Flutter has incorporated a solution for that too. Flutter provides us with something called ThemeData that allows us to set values for colors, fonts, input fields, and much more. 

This way you can keep the look of your app consistent by setting the values once.

There is an exception though. The text styles have to be set manually for each text widget, but it’s still simple.

Hold your breath for the next feature. Flutter can hot reload apps. It is every developer’s dream come true. You don’t need to restart it every time you make a change to the UI. You can now make a change, save it, then see the change within a second or so.

Libraries

To make things even more efficient, there is an extensive number of libraries available for Dart and Flutter. You will find libraries for putting ads in your app or more new widgets too.

You may even create your own library. Flutter allows for easy sharing too with the rest of the community. Adding libraries to your project can be done by adding a single line to your pubspec.yaml file. After adding it to the file, run flutter packages get and you’re good to go.

Backend Development

Backend development too is easy when using Flutter. Flutter apps are made using Dart, and Dart is great when it comes to backend development. You get the best quality in the most convenient way. It’s incredibly simple to create data-driven apps, for beginners and experts alike.

You may choose a database of your liking by using appropriate libraries. For example, deploy the SQLite database by using the sqflite library.

Let’s shed a little more light on how Flutter simplifies heavy-duty backend operations. It quickens the process and avoids redundancy through singletons. We can access the database and query it from practically anywhere without needing to recreate an object every single time.

After retrieving data from a database, you can convert that to an object using a model. Or if you want to store an object in the database, you can convert it to JSON using the same model.

Again Flutter comes packed with widgets such as the FutureBuilder or StreamBuilder for displaying the data to the users. 

Flutter has provided a fun twist on creating data-driven apps that are rich in quality and loaded with features.

Final Thoughts

With all these tricks up its sleeve that lets you create even a super extensive app in a breeze, Flutter is bound to gain popularity. With Flutter, the possibilities are practically endless. Its innovative and futuristic features, will make you fall in love with it as well and tingle your creative side. It is here to revolutionize the development industry.