In the modern world of high speed broadband and mobile networks you would think your website will update instantly as soon as you press publish. This my friends is often the biggest problem website designers face. The dreaded caching…
Caching is when a device will store information of a website so when you go to the next page or return to the site it would load quicker. This seems that the website is working fast when in fact actually the information isn’t coming from the website – it’s the information from the browser. This is known as caching! And its there to help speed up the internet.
So what actually happens when you make a small update or replace an image is that sometimes the browser doesn’t recognise it as an update and will continue to give the old cached image. Each browser is different and each browser talks to the internet slightly different. This is the first big hurdle.
A website designer and web developer will have been asked this question a million times. The website designer will say I have updated the changes I can see it here. The client will say no you haven’t its not working… but it is…
The next level of caching…. you have super fast broadband… why do you have super fast broadband… well your internet service provider will do the same as the browser. Yep that’s right, your website runs of what’s known as a DNS (Domain Name Server); these are massive data centres with lots of big computers. Often called a node. The website and browser talks to the node using the DNS settings. Often you will have a big node which then talks to 100 of other little nodes. You then have the where the website sits. The web host is where the files and the heart of your website sits. If you’re on a cloud the website is then shared across many computers. When a user looks at your website it travels down the broadband line to the data centre then to the web host on the cloud then to the node and back again. It happens instantly, but to get your 150 MB broadband speed then your ISP will store data to make sure yours get the speed you want.
Now your poor web designer doesn’t know how long it takes to clear the cache and 99% of them will not know how the data is managed. If you have a £100 web hosting package chances are your sharing with 1000 to 10000 other websites, the cloud will regulate what you see to balance the performance of the server. However, if you’re the BBC or a large company, you will possibly have a dedicated server which costs £10K + and you can control the data better. So, whenever they update something it happens there and then.
Yes, they do! No good news here. The networks differ as well. A good example was something we built for a client, it was a kiosk with an e-commerce website on it. We wanted to put the kiosk in a remote location and linked to a mobile dongle. We tried O2, it took over 24 hours to receive the last updates, Vodafone took between 8-12 hours and EE which took between 30 minutes to 4 hours.
We’re not saying you can’t have real time updates on your website but what we’re saying is that an update should happen quickly. What we’re saying is that a website designer isn’t a data network specialist, nor are they an IT guru as we often find IT people don’t get it either.
What we’re saying is let’s give the creatives a break and start trusting them. If you ask for an update and it doesn’t happen instantly then try and help yourself by Googling “How to clear my Cache”. If this doesn’t work just switch your router off at the wall for 1 minute let it have a break and you will find that the router may need a little update itself.