What is Website Maintenance?
Website maintenance refers to the upkeep of websites that are already published. It may include smaller jobs, such as fixing or changing certain parts of a website, or larger projects, like making changes to the entire site’s design. These tasks may also be called “housekeeping” since they help maintain a website’s appearance and performance.
Why Website Maintenance Is Important?
Without ongoing website maintenance, your site could fall out of date with current trends, break when new browsers come out, get hacked by cybercriminals, fail to load on mobile devices, and more. Just like how people take care of their estate by cleaning up their belongings so they can find them when in need; taking care of your website in terms of maintaining it on a regular basis will help to retain its value and usability, which in turn helps improve your business.
Who Needs Maintenance?
In general, maintenance is for sites with an audience of any size. Whether you have one website visitor a month or 10 million unique visitors per day, there’s always something that could use adjusting and fine-tuning related to the site’s appearance and performance. Maintenance tasks can range from changing the site design layout when it is out of date, adding new content when needed, or revising sections that aren’t performing up to expectations, among other things.
Here are five things we need to do when there are only a few days left until the big launch of your website.
Website Maintenance Checklist
1. Check your website speed
What is the first impression of your site? It’s how fast it loads, right? In order to make sure everything works properly on the web, you need to check its performance with a tool that can measure page loading speed and optimize images. The tools we recommend are GTmetrix and Pingdom.
When using GTmetrix, enter your home URL in the address bar and go to Analyze > Start Analysis. If it takes more than a minute for your site to load, you should try speeding up the process by compressing all images on each post. If this doesn’t help much, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to see if there are other ways to optimize your site. The important thing is that you take action before your loading speed leads to lost traffic.
2. Fix broken links and 404 errors
Even if your website is beautifully designed and stunningly functional, it might not be doing any favors to the potential customer browsing through the site if he/she happens upon a broken link or a 404 error page! Eg: If you have a client who has paid for content that’s been published on your website but fails to see that content when they visit, then that’s definitely going to drive them away from the entire business venture – more so if this happens at every step of interaction with your brand. That’s why you should fix these with utmost priority; using software such as Webmaster Toolkit can help you in detecting broken links /404 errors.
As mentioned earlier, nothing can really put off the potential customer more than broken links or 404 errors. If you are in full-fledged business mode, make sure to also check your website on various platforms for errors – it’s likely that what is visible on a desktop might not be visible on a mobile device! This will ensure optimum visibility of your brand across several touchpoints.
3. Make full website backups
The purpose of website backups is to ensure you have reliable, working copies of your website in case anything goes wrong. If anything does happen, you can always use these backups to restore the damage done by any hackers or technical problems. The easiest way to make a backup is via the FTP program and upload the full files on the server to your computer.
One way of effectively backing up all information about an individual web page is by making copies with Archive-It. This tool allows users to search for specific domains and websites they want to save for their own archival purposes. If you are using WordPress as a platform for your site, there are plugins available that will create backups automatically every time you publish new posts or pages. One example is updraft plus.
4. Test your site on multiple devices
Think about what devices people use to access your site: desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones… Do they all have different screen resolutions? If so, various sections your site can display differently on each device, which will frustrate users. It’s wise to test your site on all of these devices so you can see how it presents at different screen sizes and resolutions.
If you’re checking your website on a desktop computer, it’s easy to overlook small details that could make the difference between a good user experience and a disappointing one. Instead of checking your site on just one machine, try testing it on several devices for a more complete look at how well it performs. Some places to start? How does your site look on a tablet in landscape orientation? What about smartphones? And don’t forget about desktops — particularly if you’re using any plugins/apps that might not play nicely with every browser or operating system out there. You can check our guide to ensure that everything is peachy before launch here!
5. Check that all of your forms properly
Your forms are likely an important part of your website, perhaps for collecting user data or contacting the business. Ensure that they work properly by testing them in every browser you can get your hands on (think Internet Explorer 6). Every time a new software update comes out is the perfect chance to check if your sites break when using the latest version of each relevant browser. Ask any IT friends for help if you’re having trouble with this one!
Nothing is more frustrating than filling out a form and hitting submit, only to get the dreaded “something went wrong” message. This pretty much breaks the Internet. Make sure that any forms on your site are working properly before you go live — this shouldn’t be difficult, since all you should need to do is fill out each field manually!
6. Check for spam comments and posts
This one should be obvious, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to forget about spam comments and posts when launching a new site or blog post — even if your customers can leave comments. If you’re unable to monitor your inbox closely (and we recommend setting up an email filter for this very reason), then there are plenty of free (and paid) spam commenter/commenter tools out there that make it easy to find and delete these comments.
Spam is a problem for all websites, and it’s the last thing you want to deal with if it starts to appear on your site. Fill in your comment form manually a few times and check through old posts and comments periodically.
7. Renew website domain name and SSL certificate
If you don’t have an SSL certificate yet, you should definitely get one now — Google’s ranking algorithm now takes HTTPS into account. But not only is having an SSL certificate good for your SEO efforts, this also ensures that your customers will feel safe on your website (which can boost your conversions). At the very least, make sure you set up a 301 redirect from your HTTP site to the HTTPS version of your site (learn how to do this here ).
If you’re paying for a domain name then make sure that it doesn’t expire or get hijacked! You should also consider whether an SSL ( HTTPS ) certificate is worth the money, particularly if you take card payments online. There are plenty of guides out there explaining why this is important: check one out!
8. Update copyright
This may seem like common sense, but we all forget to sometimes update the copyright on any new posts we publish and any updated version of a post we’ve updated. This is especially important if you’ve updated the content on an older post that still gets decent traffic — don’t want to confuse your readers!
Check your footer and other page headers to ensure that the copyright year is current and correct (Copyright 2014), and make sure that the license type (for example, “All rights reserved”) is still accurate if applicable. If you’ve added or removed an author from a post, make sure those details are still also reflected correctly in the footer/header as well as within the post itself (if it’s been edited).
Website maintenance is an important task that should not be neglected or overlooked. By following the above eight steps, you can improve your site’s performance while avoiding technical glitches which could potentially lead to heavy losses in website traffic and conversion rates for potential customers.