Website maintenance: What is it, and why should my business care?
It’s a common misconception that once a website is built, it will run smoothly and look great – forever! Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Just like a car or a house, a website needs regular maintenance to stay functioning as intended.
But let’s face it: maintenance work isn’t sexy! Even when we understand that we need to maintain our websites, we are tempted to put it off. There may not be any obvious issues when viewing the website, so it may seem as though everything is fine.
Here are 3 important reasons why you need regular maintenance:
- The web environment is a complex and constantly changing ecosystem, since new versions of its many browsers, platforms, and mobile devices are constantly being released.
- Letting your software get out-of-date is a security risk, because a website that has not been maintained can succumb to hacker attacks. its content can get outdated, and user experience will suffer.
- Outdated content will adversely affect user experience, SEO, and the business’ brand.
Here are a few areas that you should monitor and maintain for your website to keep functioning optimally.
Content is THE most important aspect of a website, since this is what visitors come there for.
Here are a few content areas that should be monitored:
- Products: If you have new products, then your website should be hawking those. What’s the point of new products if you can’t sell them?
- Features: Monitor old features and add new ones.
- Company news: Use your website to announce a new office, a new team member, an upcoming seminar, or any other company related news.
- Contact changes: Having old and outdated information on your website degrades user experience and will adversely affect your online presence. If you have moved or your phone number has changed, your website’s content should be edited to reflect these changes.
If the software that your website is running on is outdated, chances are that your website isn’t running at its peak and it could possibly be vulnerable to hackers. New versions of software are released to fix security patches, make websites serve faster, and for a variety of other reasons. Keeping your software updated is paramount to running your website smoothly.
WordPress, our preferred Content Management System (CMS), releases a major version about 3 times a year. Many patches and fixes are released several times during the year. We would recommend that you hire a web design agency to take care of all the software updates.
If you have taken on the responsibility of keeping the software updated, remember to not just update all the software, but also check the website to ensure all parts are working as intended. For eg., if you have any forms, test them to see if they still function as expected and the emails arrive at the intended destination(s).
Every site should be backed up regularly in case something happens and the site needs to be rebuilt or reinstated. There are two types of elements that comprise your website:
- Content (Text, images, videos, audios, etc.)
Code should be backed up anytime you change or update your code, as well as any time your Content Management System (CMS) releases a new update. For example, if you use WordPress (our preferred CMS), whenever they release their new versions would be the perfect time to backup your code.
The frequency of content backup depends on how often your content changes and by how much. Determine the kind of loss that you can live with, since that will influence how often your website should be backed up. At the minimum, you should backup everything once a quarter.
It is important to ensure that links within the websites and the ones that go out of the website are working well. Bad links are a drain on your SEO karma. The links that go out of the website should be especially tested at least every quarter to make sure that these are still up and running. Your website should have a 404 page to catch any links that aren’t working within the website.
Domain name registration
The best time to verify all your information with the domain name registration company is during renewal. Check out the contact email for your domain name because this is where renewal notices are sent. Update this to reflect the email that you’d like to receive such notices, and confirm that the address is correct. Keeping these up to date is important for you to receive notifications on your domain name.
Anything not maintained will degrade slowly in its effectiveness and websites are no different. With regular maintenance of your website, you can optimize your website’s performance, make it less vulnerable to hacker attacks, and extend its life.