What Is Website Maintenance?
The days of static web brochures are over: the web is a constantly evolving landscape, and your website can suffer from a sort of aging or “wear and tear” if left idle. Website maintenance is the process of mitigating key risks, ensuring that your site is functioning optimally, and supporting a seamless user experience. Regular maintenance touches on the core web system, the code bases that it uses, and all of the plugins and modules that imbue it with specific capabilities, as well as the content itself.
Why is Website Maintenance Important?
Many organizations budget large sums of money to design and build their site, but then overlook its maintenance to everybody’s detriment. There are multiple reasons why it’s critical not to overlook:
- Security: Ensuring that your site, its content, and anything that your user share through your site is secure is critical to your organization. We have seen sites hacked for their credit card data, to sell third party products, or just to deface or alter the site content. The more mission-critical your site is, the more security is important.
- Compatibility: Your website is a sophisticated machine, and you want to be sure that it continues to work with the latest technology. This includes browsers, third party systems, plugins, as well as devices (Mobile, tablets and desktop), and more. In short, you want to make sure your site keeps working optimally.
- Compliance: There are many rules and standards today that must be adhered to – yes – even on the web. These include FINRA, COPPA, WCAG, FERPA, GDPR, CCPA, PCI Compliance and more. These standards change and evolve over time and can include penalties if you fall out of compliance.
- Search Engine Optimization: A large percentage of your site’s visitors likely start at Google or Bing. Out of date, non-compliant, non-accessible sites get a much lower search engine rank than those that are up to date; so, maintaining your website will help you draw as much traffic as possible from search engines.
- User Experience: Do you know what a rage-click is? It’s the response many people have when a critical part of the site they are on fails to work as they expect it to. Broken links, failed plugins and out of date plugins are something that your visitors will not forget, and if they can find an alternate provider of what they seek, they are likely to try them.
- Cost: Finally, maintaining your site is not free (in terms of time or money), but it is WAY less expensive than rebuilding the site from scratch or even unwinding a hack or other issue. What would you rather do – replace your engine on your car or just change the oil? Proactive maintenance is by far the most cost effective way to extending the life of your site.
How Often Do I Need To Maintain My Site?
In general, we recommend that our clients regularly review both their actual website, and their analytics (which can provide insights into hidden issues), but the reality is that most people have other roles and responsibilities that they need to attend to. In 2022, each organization needs to assess how critical their site is and put in place regular check-ins to ensure that everything is functioning optimally. If you have a large eCommerce-focused website, this is a task being completed by your in-house or full-time team. If you are a smaller entity with a less complicated site, the frequency can be less.
While maintenance can vastly improve your site, you should also ensure that you have regular backups, as well.
Sample Maintenance Cadence:
- Monthly: Full site review, make sure there are no broken links (on or off-site), run a backup, review any content (like reviews) that have been submitted by outsiders, and of course, update your content (blogs, posts, articles etc). We also recommend a deep dive into your analytics each month as well.
- Quarterly: Review your CMS for plugin or system level updates, review site structure and design to determine whether any updates are needed, validate forms are working, signup fields and any other interfaces that your users use.
- Annually: Review your KPI’s, Goals and Events; ensure that your content remains accurate, update year references; make sure your domain, SSL certificate and hosting are up to date; consider whether a design refresh is merited; identify holes in your content that can be addressed moving forward.
Keep in mind that the more complicated your website, the more likely you will need a developer to help facilitate updates: simply updating a plugin can break how that piece of the site works with other pieces of the site, creating a cascading set of failures.
Website Maintenance As A Service
The Ignition72 team are experts at providing ongoing maintenance on a range of Content Management Systems. See how we can help you ensure that your site and visitor experience remain optimal at all times.