Your website is the public face of your organization, the holder of your content, and often the first thing potential supporters see to learn who you are and what you do. So much time and thought goes into building and launching a site, but maintenance is just as important. Doing certain tasks regularly will keep your website current and could prevent major problems from surfacing unexpectedly. Not sure where to begin? Start with these seven recommendations:
Review and Update Your Content
This one may seem obvious, but sometimes the number of pages on your site can get so overwhelming that it feels impossible to keep up with them all. Here’s how I like to approach this task:
- Create a site map that lists every page of your website
- Assign each page to an individual at your organization.
- Ask all content owners to commit to a quarterly review, where the page owner signs off on the information on their pages, including headers, footers, and social media icons.
From projects and programs to staff bios and contact information, things change frequently. This system will help you keep up with the edits without requiring that one person manage every single page.
Stay on Top of Updates and Back-ups
You should have a back-up system that’s running automatically. This way, if your site gets hacked, you have an up-to-date version waiting in the wings. If you’re running your site on WordPress, plugin updates are also critically important. New versions of plugins come with updated code and features that could lead to conflicts with other plugins and code on your site. So run a back-up and then update those plugins regularly.
Test Your Forms
Web forms need updates for a variety of reasons, from employee turnover to [third-party] API changes. Testing your web forms after you update other connected tools will help you discover issues as they arise, instead of after they’ve been present for months. If a departing employee was the recipient of submission forms from your site via email, take steps to change the delivery email address for those forms. You don’t want to lose track of the information these forms are collecting or have a delay in responding to important new constituents.
Pay Attention to Page Deletion and Redirects
Often during a website build, administrators will create test pages to see how content will display. You might also do this if you’re testing a new page layout. Make sure to delete or unpublish these pages when you no longer need them because you don’t want visitors stumbling upon them via your site navigation or by performing a search. If you’re deleting out-of-date pages, don’t forget that the URLs for those pages could still be found in other locations. Use a plugin to set-up redirects. That way, if someone does stumble upon an old link, they’ll get directed to relevant content instead of an error page.
Test Layout Responsiveness
Mobile responsiveness should be built into your site, but it’s a good idea to check new pages, particularly if they’re being added by various users, and make sure the layout and images look right no matter the size of the screen. You can view the pages on your actual mobile device, or you can add a plugin to your desktop browser that will allow it to mimic a phone or tablet. If things don’t look right, you want to know early in the process, so you can appropriately address the issue with a developer.
Moderate Your Comments
If your website includes a blog and if it has comment functionality, make sure that it is someone’s responsibility to monitor those comments. For any comments that are relevant and timely, you’ll want to respond quickly, so it’s clear to those outside your organization that you care. Setting up notifications when comments come in will help you with this task. There are other reasons to regularly monitor comments as well. You’ll want to make sure that there are no inappropriate or hateful messages being left, and that you quickly delete anything that could be offensive. And you should determine if any comments are spam and get rid of those as well.
Identify Trends and Problems with Analytics
Website analytics are only worth collecting if you use the data to improve your site. Take the time to set up tracking and then set regular reminders to investigate trends. Find out what content is getting the most attention, and then think about ways to further promote it and prioritize it during site updates. Also take a look at exit pages to determine when visitors are leaving your site. If there is content that is really relevant to your readers and it is not being found or read, analytics help you know you need to improve it.
Website upkeep is about what steps you take and how regularly you take them. Scheduling these tasks ahead of time and adopting them as regular parts of your work responsibilities is the best way to make sure that nothing gets forgotten. If you want more guidance on how to launch and maintain a new WordPress website, click here to contact us today.