Websites built with content management systems (CMSs), like WordPress, are known as ‘dynamic’ websites. These are built so you can log in and perform updates to products, services, imagery or add blogs yourself without the need for having to go back to the web developer. This is great. But there is a downside – you should know how to look after your website post-launch.
The importance of TLC
Practice kindness to your website. Dynamic websites have many moving parts and a little maintenance is required after launch to make sure it stays safe, secure and up-to-date. Just as a car needs an annual MOT to keep it roadworthy, your website needs to stay webworthy to prevent hackers gaining access and to make sure that your site still represents your business as it should.
At Cyberfrog, we predominantly develop using WordPress so here are a few tips to practice kindness and make sure your WordPress website maintains its integrity.
1. Do the updates!
WordPress regularly updates its platform (currently its on v5.2.1 at the time of writing) and it’s important that these updates are done. Updates are sometimes released because of new features but they are usually released as security patches to prevent malicious attacks. If the core WordPress platform is not kept up-to-date there is an increased risk that a site can be hacked. Not immediately, but certainly if a site is neglected over a long period of time. Your web developer will probably charge you for repairing a site that has been neglected.
If you like a horror story, check out the costs associated with a hacked website – it’s not just financial.
2. Check the plugins
WordPress uses useful addons called plugins. These may control things like your contact form, booking systems, checkout procedures, etc. Like the platform itself, plugin developers also release updates. These need to be kept up-to-date too for the same security reason. In addition, it’s important to check that plugins are still being supported by their developers. Ones that are no longer supported can become vulnerable to attack. Not had any messages through the contact form recently? Maybe it’s stopped functioning.
3. New content
Enough of the scary stuff. Do you have a blog? Make sure you’re doing regular updates. We’ve all been to websites where the latest blog was published years ago. What does that tell you about the company? Perhaps they’re too busy to share things with customers? Perhaps they have nothing to say? Perhaps they’ve gone out of business? Decide what is manageable for you. Regularity is more important than frequency and having a blog splurge one day and then nothing for months is not the best way to do it. If you want to publish a blog once a week, great, but is that manageable? Even a regular blog once a month is fine so long as this is kept up. If you find you can write more than one a month, keep them in ‘the bank’ so you have some in reserve if you are too busy to write a new one.
4. Review imagery
If your website is working for you then it should help your business grow. Things like product images, staff pages, service images can quickly become out-of-date so it’s important to make sure that how you’re presenting yourself is still relevant
5. Review content
By the same token, your product or service descriptions may change. We get a lot of enquiries from clients who need a new site and say that what’s on their current website they don’t even do anymore. Regularly review what you’re offering servicewise and ensure that your company is still being properly represented. You don’t want a phone call from a customer wanting a particular service they’ve seen on your site for you to have to say, “Oh sorry, we don’t provide that anymore.”
6. Show it off
A website should be a tool for business, to generate revenue, gain new customers, almost be part of the sales team. If you’re blogging regularly, use social media, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, to drive traffic to your site. An article that someone is interested in may be the first step to securing new business or contracts.
7. Don’t exist in a void
Running a company can be a lonely business. A busy business. It’s easy to lose track of what’s going on out there in your online environment. You’re bound to be up against other companies who provide the same, or similar, services and there’s always time to conduct a bit of industrial espionage! Make sure you keep an eye on competitors’ websites, see what they’re doing, check out good features, gain inspiration, and don’t be afraid to adapt ideas for yourself. This helps you to keep up with current website trends and features in your sector as well as being aware of what’s happening in the online landscape in general for your business area. This goes for social media too.
Show your love
A website is, metaphorically, a living breathing thing and it needs care. If you are serious about having a website that truly works for your business, it needs attention, and love, and nurturing. Manage your time to give it some attention every now and then, at least once a month, to make sure it’s still working for you, and to make sure it’s still working!
Be realistic as to whether you have the time to do it yourself. How many hours will it take you to do this? Would it be a better use of your time and money to get your web developer to maintain it for you? Any decent agency will offer this service for you, including content updates and security maintenance.