CakeDC Blog

TIPS, INSIGHTS AND THE LATEST FROM THE EXPERTS BEHIND CAKEPHP

Navigation options for improved usability

Ease of navigation is closely linked to user experience - it can make or break how the user interacts with your website. From being able to find and use your navigation menu, through to the user being able to find the information they are looking for, it is important to ensure your navigation options are cleverly designed and stick to best practices.

 

If visitors are having difficulty with your navigation options, you are missing an opportunity to either create a conversion, delight your customer or engage a potential client.

 

When it comes to your website usability, here are some things you can focus on to ensure your site’s navigation is a user-friendly one:

 

1.     Keep it simple

While this one may sound obvious, it is important to ensure that you avoid making your navigation difficult to comprehend. Examples of this include cluttered navigation menus, disorganized sub menus

 

2.     Keep it predictable

While creativity makes your website stand out and is great to catch a user's attention and provoke emotion, it is important not to practise creativity in areas where predictability is preferred by the user or visitor. Such as when creating your navigation menu or the placement thereof.

 

3.     Keep it consistent

It is key to keep the theme and structure of the different pages of your site consistent. Check our CakeDC.com menu and the different pages, each page keeps the overall theme and structure consistent. This is to ensure that your user is able to make sense of the content as quickly as possible when switching between pages.

 

4.     Have a clear hierarchical structure

Every category and clickable sub category should have a clear hierarchical structure and should be visible in your menu. Doing this gives your user a clear view and pathway for them to go to the exact page or content that they are wanting. This point is particularly important for website that have a wide range of products or services.

 

5.    Make it distinct

Navigation options should be clearly visible and easy to find. They should stand out from other graphics, images or backgrounds. This can be done through size, color and font.

 

6.    Link the logo to the homepage

A good practice is to link the homepage to the logo of your company on your website. This logo should be in the same place on every page. Users have a high tendency to click on your logo, with the expectation that it will lead back to the home page as this is a generally predictable behavior across websites and design practices.

 

7.     Always include a search bar

Search bars are necessary for making your website more usable to your visitors. Some visitors only want to find information by using a search bar within your site. Offer your users a way to navigate through your website without having to go through every page or menu option.

Latest articles

Using a vagrant box as quick environment for the Getting Started with...

We've decided to create a simple vagrant box with all the required packages to improve the environment setup step in our free Getting Started with CakePHP training session. We used other tools in the past, but we hope vagrant will help users to install a common environment before the session to get the most of it.

Requirements

Setup

  • Create a new folder where the code will be located
  • Create a new file called Vagrantfile with the following contents
# -*- mode: ruby -*- # vi: set ft=ruby : Vagrant.configure("2") do |config| config.vm.box = "cakedc/cakephp-training" config.vm.network :forwarded_port, guest: 8765, host: 8765 config.vm.network :private_network, ip: "192.168.33.33" config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |vb| vb.memory = "1024" vb.customize ['modifyvm', :id, '--cableconnected1', 'on'] end end
  • Run vagrant up
  • Wait (download could take several minutes depending on your internet connection)
  • Run vagrant ssh
Now you have ssh access to a training ubuntu (16.04) based virtual machine, with all the requirements to run your training CakePHP application.
  • Setup a new CakePHP project
cd /vagrant composer create-project cakephp/app
  • Start the local server
cd /vagrant/app php bin/cake.php server --host 0.0.0.0
  • From your host machine, open a browser and navigate to http://localhost:8765
  • You should be able to see the CakePHP welcome page
  We think this VM will enable faster environment setups, and an easier entry point to the training session. Please let us know if you find issues with this process.

Boosting your API with CakePHP API and PHP-PM (ReactPHP)

A couple days ago AlexMax commented in CakePHP's IRC channel about the https://github.com/php-pm/php-pm project and it rang a bell for us. We did a couple tests internally and found this could be a great companion to our API plugin, so we wrote a new Bridge for CakePHP and ran some benchmarks.

The Cast

We put all together and created a sample application (1 posts table with 30 records) to do some benchmarks.

Benchmark configuration

We are not aiming to provide detailed or production figures, just a reference of the results obtained for your comparison. Results are generated from a development box, using PHP 7.1.12-3+ubuntu16.04.1+deb.sury.org+1 with xdebug enabled on ubuntu xenial, 8x Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4771 CPU @ 3.50GHz We baked the application using the latest CakePHP 3.5.10, and set application debug to false, and log output to syslog. As we are interested in boosting API response times the most, we tested the following scenarios
  • A) CakePHP json output, served from nginx+phpfpm
  • B) CakePHP + API Plugin Middleware integration json output, served from nginx+phpfpm
  • C) CakePHP + API Plugin Middleware integration json output, served from php-pm
Benchmark figures were obtained using ab -n 5000 -c 100 URL

Results

Scenario requests/second avg time
A) CakePHP json output, served from nginx+phpfpm 372.97 [#/sec] (mean) 268.120 [ms] (mean)
B) CakePHP + API Plugin Middleware integration json output, served from nginx+phpfpm 399.79 [#/sec] (mean) 250.133 [ms] (mean)
C) CakePHP + API Plugin Middleware integration json output, served from php-pm 911.95 [#/sec] (mean) 109.656 [ms] (mean)
  These results for a NOT OPTIMIZED CakePHP application are promising, and the improvement using PHP-PM is huge in this case. There are some important considerations though:
  • PHP-FPM is mature and stable, PHP-PM is still in early development, although there is a 1.0 version released already.
  • Processes need monitoring, specially regarding memory leaks, we would need to manage a restart policy and be able to hot-restart individual workers
  • System integration, init scripts are not provided, even if this is something easy to manage nowadays via systemd or monit, would be good to have for production
  • Application bootstrapping should not be affected by the request. If your application bootstrapping depends on the request params, or logged in user, you'll need to refactor your code
  • Session handling was not tested, issues are reported for PHP-PM for other frameworks. We were aiming to stateless API's so we don't know if this would be an issue for a regular application
Performance is always a concern for the API developer, applying proven paradigms like the event driven development (https://reactphp.org/) to your existing code would be the way to go and ensure backend frameworks like CakePHP will perform as required when dealing with the peaks we all love and hate.

Giving back to the community

This Plugin's development has been sponsored by the Cake Development Corporation. Contact us if you are interested in:      

Why an independent code review is important

Passbolt recently contacted us about doing a code review so we thought now would be a great time to share more about our code review process with you. While in-house and peer reviews are important to maximise code quality, it is still incredibly important to get an independent third party to review your code - that is where CakeDC can step in. Passbolt is free, open-source, self hosted password manager for teams which makes collaboration and sharing company account credentials within a team much easier. It's based on open security standards and uses OpenPGP to authenticate users and verify secrets server side. Passbolt consists of server side web app built in CakePHP providing web interface and API, and Chrome extension for client side. The overall aspects that are reviewed in our code review include a review of quality, implementation, security, performance, documentation and test coverage. When looking into quality, the team reviews aspects concerning the code following CakePHP conventions, coding standards and coding quality. Overall, passbolt’s code review revealed that CakePHP conventions and coding standards are largely followed, no concerns were detected. Implementation outlines key issues with framework use and approach. It includes reviewing the code for framework usage, separation of concerns as well as code reuse and modularity. Key recommendations are outlined at this point and guidance is given into how to solve any issues. For the Passbolt review, bigger or concerning issues were uncovered, but improvements were recommended and outlined within the closing documentation. The security portion of the code review deals with how secure the code is in terms of CakePHP usage. No security flaws were found in the passbolt code review. Our in depth code review focuses on performance, specifically investigating any bottlenecks in the code base and database as well as indexes optimization. For the full passbolt code review results, check out the Code review results. Passbolt has also posted about their review, check out their post here. If you or your company has a CakePHP application and you aren’t sure if its running at the optimum, then get in touch - Code reviews can offer insights and learning into how to improve your application.

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