7 Ways to Make Website Maintenance Easy
1. Hire someone to help
The single easiest way to make the management of your website a simple and worry-free process is to hire professional help. They have dedicated staff, tested processes, and the time and attention to devote to your site. While their exact services vary, look for a company who offers both a set list of tasks and time that can be used based on the site owner’s desires.
2. Designate a set time to do it
Find an hour a week that you can set aside to devote to Website Maintenance. This should be time that can be walled-off; book a meeting with yourself to make sure it can happen. Doing it during the same time every week will help keep the work down (more on this later), as well as keeping the site from going too long without being checked.
3. Use a set checklist of tasks
It has become clear that professionals – especially well-trained workers in critical roles – can cut down on errors and improve efficiency by relying on checklists for routine tasks. This holds true for Website Maintenance. There are tasks that need to be carried out on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis – keeping these all in your head is a sure-fire way to have an SSL certificate expire when you least expect it.
4. Automate What You Can
Just like using checklists, automation is another way to cut down on error, and the overall time spent working on your website. Using scripts, services like IFTTT, or built-in functionality, you can develop workflows for your common tasks, monitoring and alerting, and notifications.
5. Stay Up To Date
There are two main reasons to keep your site up to date:
- Keeping the number of updates you need to do at any given time low
- Keeping your site up-to-date due to security releases.
One of the benefits of having a set weekly “meeting” to work on your Website Maintenance is that it will make it easy to keep your site up to date. Opening your site’s admin menu and seeing 57 plugins to update, as well as 3 updates to the site itself, can prove to be a daunting situation that leads to further neglect of the site. Once the site is fully up to date, revisiting it weekly means that you will only ever have a few updates you need to run.
Also, checking on your website’s updates, and running them regularly, will keep it up to date with any security releases. Websites are constantly getting tested and exploited – and when these exploits get fixed, they are released as updates for the plugins, modules, and frameworks that power your website. Keeping everything up to date, and doing this on a frequent basis, will help keep your site secure in the long run. If a security mailing list is offered by your framework, CMS, or plugins, you should sign up to be notified of any security releases, and run these updates immediately.
6. Keep an Eye on Things
It is important to stay up to date on your website, both from an internal and external perspective. Internally, there are several sources of knowledge you can leverage to learn about your site:
- Logging services on servers
- Analytics services such as Google Analytics
There are also many tools to learn how your site is doing from an external perspective. These include:
- Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, is the main method Google uses to communicate with site owners. This can include notifications about malware, search performance data, links they have found, penalties from spam, and more.
- Uptime services, such as Pingdom, which can alert you when your website is not responsive, and test various parts to make sure your site is full functional.
7. Have Good Documentation
There are a LOT of different logins, passwords, and other pieces of data that are associated with a website. Not having access to something, due to forgetting it, an ex-employee holding the login, or data loss, can create major headaches when it comes time to make changes to your web infrastructure. Having good documentation about your website, and making it easily accessible when you need it, will make any maintenance task many times easier.
At minimum, have easy access to documentation about:
- Site Hosting Information
- Domain Name Registration
- DNS Service
- Email Marketing Service
- Any Plugins/Modules you purchased
- Any Themes Purchased
- The name and contact info of the firm who built it
Website’s have only grown in complexity over time, and that trend shows no signs of stopping. No longer are they just a collection of flat HTML files – most sites function as mini-applications, requiring databases, client-side frameworks, APIs, and more. It can be a lot of work to keep all of it secure, online, and responsive. Regardless of what works best for your company and website, put some time into planning your Website Management and Maintenance in 2016 to have a more stress-free year.