Whether you have a simple or a more complicated website, you require a program of ongoing website maintenance to keep your website secure, up to date and engaging for your website visitors. Websites aren’t like a promotional flyer where you print it, distribute it and forget about it. Websites need continual maintenance to:
- Tweak, update and improve the website content
- Ensure that the website and your website visitors are safe and secure
- Ensure that website visitors are having overall better experience on the site and are engaging with the website and the company and becoming customers.
After your website has grown gradually to over one hundred pages in size, the oldest content probably needs to be updated. Or, if you have a smaller site and your older pages haven’t' been updated in 9 to 12 months , then you should inspect those pages again and see if they have the correct information and photos on them and if they are going to win you new business.
The primary job in website maintenance is to review and enhance the static content by adding the most up to date information to the respective pages. Not just content, which is of course the cornerstone of any website, you also need to look after other factors too such as CMS (Content Management System) software upgrades, web server upgrades, repair and fix broken links, mobile device testing and more. Let us find out what are the most common website maintenance jobs that can improve the performance of your website.
Website content itself is the core reason for any website's success or failure. It doesn’t mean that other factors don’t come into play, but content is the one area that needs regular updates, periodic updates to content layouts (arrangements of the content) and even deletion of unwanted material. Website content includes text, photos, videos, downloadable manuals, photo galleries etc.
- It is essential to update your navigation bars (menu bars) when updating products and adding new pages to your website so that website visitors can easily and intuitively find the pages they are looking for.
- If you have created a sidebar, new products should be highlighted on the side panel to attract the visitors attention. This is a new product, hot off the press, so the are likely to be interested in reading about that.
- Your website content must be promoted, and marketed, not just in online channels, but also in print channels such as in newspapers, flyers or magazines. Some of your customers may be more reachable through newspapers, flyers or magazines so it makes sense to included them in your wider advertising campaign. If you are going to the task of updating the content on your website then you need to reach as many sales targets as you can and you must mix your advertising channels.
- Having a giveaway or contest running in your site on a regular basis can be a great help in creating dynamism on your website. Your website maintenance will need to keep this up to date and add a new competition once the last competition draw date has arrived and the website has announced it's winner(s).
- If you don’t have any web blog, add one. If you already have one, then you should regularly update it with good useful content. Think about your website visitor. What would they find useful? What would they find interesting? Maybe you could generate a few useful 60 second videos explaining some of your products or services?
Website Mobile Testing
Website Visitor Tracking reports tell us that the percentage of visitors coming to websites from smart phones and other mobile devices such as iPads and tablet PCs is growing rapidly. Many websites and ecommerce websites already have a huge percentage of visitors coming from mobile devices. It won’t be long before mobile users overtake all laptop and desktop PC users. Therefore it is vital to test your website on multiple mobile devices to check the website's compatibility.
There are many mobile phone emulators, which help you to check websites on various mobile platforms such as Samsung, iPhone, BlackBerry etc. You should also check your website on a few devices after each website page addition or update because you do not know, until you test these web pages, if the new pages are displaying correctly – so the wise advice is test, test, test.
Testing Your Website Page Load Speed
Testing the website's page 'serving' speed is very important in enhancing the website user experience for your website visitors. If you add new features, it could slow down your website page load speed, so you need to monitor that page load speed. Website speed is vital as your website visitors typically have a short attention space, so if your website is slow your web visitors won’t stay on it for long. You could have a repeating task on your calendar for each of your team members to access your website at 10am and 4pm each day to check the website page load speed. It's better for you to find a problem and have your website company fix it rather than loose a few potential sales leads. This advice is even more important if you business is fully based around your website and doesn't have an offline (regular bricks and mortar business) presence.
CMS (Content Management System) Upgrades
Any modern website is now based on a Content Management System (CMS), so whatever sort of CMS you run, you need to upgrade that software regularly so that your website is safe and efficient for customers to visit, and safe and easy for you to administer too.
- It is important to add new features and functionality in the CMS to streamline the content (test, photos, youtube video links etc) management and serving process.
- Sometimes website CMS upgrades are required to fix or protect the site from hackers or a potential website attack threat. It is vital that these are installed by yourself or your web design company to ensure your site is protected.
- It is also essential that you have a CMS that is easy to upgrade in the future – this is an essential part of website maintenance. It is a good idea to stay on the mailing list of the company that provides updates for your CMS so that you are up to date on developments – or get your website design company to do that for you.
Web Server Upgrades
If you have a big or medium sized website, it is more likely that you have your own web server or VPS (Virtual Private Server). This is not absolutely essential but very much advised. Depending on the type of website you have, you need to upgrade your web server software periodically to keep the server itself secure, to improve the website user experience and improve the website performance.
Website server space (hard drive space on which you can store all your website files), server performance and server security are three very important areas that you as the website manager need to keep an eye on. You can get your website company or web designers to help you with this to make sure everything is monitored regularly and your server is in good health. The success of your website is very dependant on the web server that it is placed on and how that server is being managed and protected.
PHP, MySQL, Apache Code Versions
Most modern websites are created with PHP, MySQL and Apache so you need to create a maintenance task to check that your website server's code for the above 3 is up to date at all times. Your website could be using some other coding framework and you need to check that as required. All of these code framework versions expire at some point and you need to keep on top of those expiry dates and make sure your website is up to date.
Testing on New Browsers
It depends on your own PC experience whether you go for manual or automated browser testing. Browser testing of your website is important to check base functionality, user interface, responsiveness such as resolution, content presentation and of course web page performance.
Just like the server software above, browser software version expire too and they are often automatically upgraded by the browser companies. When a new browser (major version) comes out it is a good idea for you to test your website pages and make sure that they display as intended.
This will give you some food for thought on what kind of website maintenance you will need for your website. Most companies do not have this expertise within the company so they outsource these requirements. If you have any questions about the above we'd be glad to discuss them with you and prepare a tailored maintenance plan together for you.