A Guide to Cache that Everyone Can Understand

You’ve just made a bunch of changes to your web site – new brand colors, high-resolution images, fancy new buttons – and you pull your page up in a browser to admire the new look and….nothing. It’s all the same. It looks exactly the same as before and you don’t know why.  Did I mess up?  Did my developers miss something?  Is the internet broken!? 

There is a fairly good chance that you are experiencing one of the most common issues of building and maintaining a website, and it’s called cache (pronounced like cash).  But you don’t care about all the technical mumbo jumbo, you just want your website to work.   You can’t wait hours or days for the tech guys to fix this broken internet.

Relax, because there is a solution! Let’s make this super easy to understand so that you can get changes on your site faster, not lose any leads, and keep control of your brand’s representation in this digital landscape.  Don’t worry, you will not have to understand any code or “computer speak” to understand and resolve your caching issues.

What is cache and why is it making my website not respond?

So the most obvious question is: What on earth is cache?  When we say “cache” we are talking about “cached data”.  Instead of boring you with the details just know it’s simply data that is stored in memory and makes future visits to your site load much faster.  Usually the visual looks and “styles” of your website can be cached.  Sometimes there is code that runs “scripts” that control the actual functionality of your site, and those can be cached as well.  

Caching is used everywhere, you just don’t know it.   When your website is not showing updates or it looks like an older version of your site, you are being shown a cached or previously saved version of your website.  Don’t worry though, your website isn’t broken.  In fact, showing a cached version can be a good thing.

I’m not a developer, why should I care about caching?

First, caching will speed up the development phase of your website. The most common issue you will have when building or updating a website is related to caching.  Unlike one of those “free” website development platforms, where you would have no assistance or knowledge of how to resolve this issue, a web development company like Americaneagle.com is very familiar with the common issues of cache.   The communication with your web development team will drastically speed up when you can remove common cache issues that prevent your developers from seeing what you have on your screen.  

Secondly, non-developers should understand caching, because your visitors may not be seeing your most up-to-date site!  Whether it is control of your brand or important, key information that can lead to lost sales, knowing your users are looking at your updated site is vital to your company’s success.

So, why is cache even around? Can I turn it off?

Everyone simply wants the fastest internet experience possible.  Every time you ping a website you are requesting a “checklist” of items.   And then it is goes and downloads all those items.   You may have noticed the first time you visit a new website it always seems to take longer than when you press the refresh button or the back button.   That is because it has cached data that did NOT need to be downloaded after the initial visit.  This is a complete game changer for visitors who have slower internet or a slower device.  Not everyone lives in a big city with high speed internet.  This betters your web SEO and also keeps your visitors happy.

Sounds great! So what is the catch?

The catch is when a website is being built we want to see immediate changes!    However, your site could be cached from several different parts that help make up your website. There are several opportunities for visitors to not see the most up-to-date version, and when you are updating your brand, or making notifications about a sale, you need your audience to see everything updated.

What should I do?

Working with a web development team like Americaneagle.com gives you more control and peace of mind about these common issues you might face compared to a “do it yourself” platform.  To avoid a lot of common caching issues, your web developers will set you up with a development environment.  Here, your changes are more immediate to review and that’s because your developers have removed as many caching options as possible.

What Can I as a Non-Tech Savvy Person Do?

Now that we know cache might be the reason you’re not seeing updates, let’s talk about how to fix it.  Here are 2 simple tricks that can help improve your testing and cut down on communication time with your developers.  If these tricks don’t work, then you can reach out to the development team at Americaneagle.com to investigate, confident that you have ruled out caching on your machine.

  1. Press CTRL + F5 on the keyboard at the Same TIME

Unlike pressing the refresh button of a website pressing CTRL + F5 on your keyboard will actually do a “Hard Refresh” which is a refresh that removes the cache!

  1. Go incognito

Developers know this clever trick very well.  By simply opening up a new incognito/private window with your webpage, you will load a fresh, un-cached page. That’s because incognito windows don’t have any previous caching to reference when opening.

Caching on your site is very important for SEO, speed, and user experience.  The development team at Americaneagle.com is more than familiar with all the ins and outs of cache.  Hopefully, you learned a little about this issue and next time it happens, you’ll know what to do!

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staff at americaneagle.com
Americaneagle.com has a dedicated team of strategists, technologists, and content writers to help you stay up to date with the latest and greatest trends in the technology industry. We cover a wide variety of topics on a regular basis, some of which include website design, website development, digital marketing services, ecommerce, accessibility, website hosting and security, and so much more. Educating our clients, prospects, and readers is very important to us and we appreciate the opportunity to be an authoritative voice in the industry.

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