Website maintenance and keeping current is crucial to any online strategy and will help keep the site current and indexed by Google. An up to date website will help draw interest from potential customers. Website maintenance is key to this.
A website, unlike a brochure, is never really finished; it’s a work in progress. Many clients fail to appreciate this. The site goes live and then is forgotten about. A site that lies dormant with old information and receives no visitors is a waste of time. Always look at your site and see what could be improved and what helpful content could be added. I would divide website maintenance into three sections – Visual Appeal, Content and Security.
Keeping a website visually current has never been more important than from a technological point of view. It’s no secret years ago Google began giving mobile users different search results – giving mobile users better and fresher content. As a web developer this means a mobile first approach. In other words a website design that is not mobile resonsive will receive far less visitors. So gone are the days of a website purely designed and built for desktop. More people are viewing your website on their mobile. It needs to not only look good but function well on a typical mobile device whether it be a mobile phone or tablet.
Being a graphic designer I have always placed a great emphasis on how a website looks. With so many websites and competition out there it is important your website design stands out. Always think about freshening up a site with new imagery, graphics and photography. New photography can go a long way to re-engaging with the viewer and showcasing what a company has to offer whether it be products and/or services. I read a lot at the moment on other design blogs about taking images out, deleting the slideshows and taking websites back to ‘bare bones’. This is primarily to lower load times which Google views as a big ranking factor. A website with fewer images will load quickly so will be viewed favourably. Like anything it’s about striking a balance. A quick loading site is ideal however there’s no mistaking viewers warm to images. Especially on ecommerce websites.
We are conditioned now to scan a web page very quickly and focus on the information that we are looking for. When used in the correct context images will help draw the eye in, particularily to key information or messages. Meanwhile up to date up to date graphics and imagery in a short slideshow can highlight new information or highlight offers in a very visual manner. On the other hand any redundant imagery whether photography or graphics needs to be deleted immediately.
Most people want the information they are after instantly. If they don’t see it they move on. This is why it’s so important to make sure the information you offer is not only up to date and relevant but is organised in a way that it can be viewed as quickly as possible.
Keeping Content Up To Date
Up to date and relevant content is key to website maintenance and is vital to winning new customers and keeping old ones coming back. Analyse your website and make sure all relevant information is up there. Ideally you want your website to grow and become a wealth of information. A go-to site where people can learn about what you do and provide a wealth of solutions to their questions. The by product of this being your following will also grow. An updated site results in more interest and more customers.
Here are a some questions regarding content:
- Is the content on your website as well organised as it could be?
- Should certain sections be more prominent?
- Are the contact details up to date and prominent?
- Has the blog been updated or has the last article got 2012 stamped on it?
- What about a Questions and Answers section?
- How does your website look when viewed on a mobile phone or tablet?
- Has your company, services or products changed in any way that is not reflected in your website?
- Could you add testimonials or case studies to the site?
- Could you add further articles to the blog?
Forgetting about a website once it is live is arguably the number one online mistake a client will make. It pays to keep a website up to date in order to retain customers attention and is looked upon favourably by Google. You can pretty much guarantee a person that updates her website on a continual basis is the person who will rise through the ranking system in Google winning new customers and work and be richer for it.
Why Website Maintenance Matters
Website maintenance is not a one-time task but an ongoing commitment to ensure your online presence remains strong and effective. The benefits of regular maintenance, including improved user experience, enhanced security, and better search engine ranking, far outweigh the consequences of neglecting it. By following best practices and investing in website maintenance, you can ensure the long-term success of your online endeavors and continue to engage and grow your audience.
Improved User Experience
A well-maintained website offers an excellent user experience. It loads quickly, functions smoothly, and presents up-to-date information. Users are more likely to engage with and revisit a website that is easy to navigate and provides relevant, fresh content. Conversely, a neglected website with broken links, outdated content, or slow loading times can frustrate visitors, driving them away.
A well-designed user experience begins with a clean and intuitive interface that makes navigation effortless. It involves optimizing loading times to prevent frustration and ensuring that content is easily accessible and updated. While making sure the site is always responsive to mobile and desktop platforms. Keeping a website current and maintained is key to this.
Cybersecurity threats are ever-present, and websites are prime targets for hackers, especially WordPress sites. Regular maintenance helps to identify and address vulnerabilities, ensuring your website remains secure. This includes updating software, plugins, and monitoring for potential security breaches. Neglecting security maintenance can lead to data breaches, malware infections, and damage to your online reputation. It’s especially important that plugin-ins that bring that extra functionality are updated on a continual basis.
WordPress plugins are pieces of software that are add to a WordPress website to extend its functionality. They are like apps allowing the extra features on a site. Unfortunately they can be compromised and become a back door for hackers to exploit the site.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search engines favour websites that provide valuable and relevant content to users. Regularly updating your website with fresh content, optimizing keywords, and fixing broken links can boost your search engine ranking. Neglecting Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) maintenance can result in lower visibility in search engine results, limiting your online reach.
Responsive Testing for Mobile
With the proliferation of devices and browsers, it’s essential to ensure your website is compatible and responsive across various platforms. Regular maintenance includes testing and optimizing your site for different screen sizes and browsers. Neglecting this can lead to a poor user experience for visitors using different devices and may deter potential customers.
Improved Loading Speed
Slow-loading websites can be frustrating and lead to higher bounce rates. Regular maintenance includes optimizing images, cleaning up code, and using content delivery networks (CDNs) to improve loading times. A fast-loading website not only pleases visitors but also positively impacts search engine rankings.
This is increasingly becoming a key ranking factor with Google. 47% of customers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less. Not only do consumers EXPECT your website to load in 3-4 seconds or less, but 40% of users will also abandon your website if it takes more than three seconds to load.
A well-maintained website reflects positively on a companys brand credibility. Outdated content, broken links, and security issues can erode trust in the brand. Conversely, a polished and up-to-date website conveys professionalism and reliability. If a website proves it’s worth with up to date content that answers people’s questions then the people will keep coming back!
A Word on Website Security
Adding on from above, arguably the one crucial aspect of website maintenance that should never be forgotten is that of security. It is vitally important to keep a site secure from hackers. This is especially true for Content Managed System (CMS) websites which are database driven, in particular WordPress. Ninety percent of sites I now now build are WordPress sites.
With over 40% of websites built within the WordPress web design framework this proves it is an incredibly popular Content Managed System. Given that there were over 1.88 billion websites online in 2022, according to Statista, we can calculate that the number of websites built on WordPress is around 810 million. There are reasons for this – It is a great Content Managed System and allowing for easy updates content. With it being so popular hackers seek to exploit any WordPress vulnerabilities and gain access to the site.
The following points are worth noting:
- If you think a password has been compromised change it. Use strong passwords (not ‘admin’ or ‘password123’).
- CMS providers like WordPress release updates and patches. Make sure your site is running the latest.
- Add any security plugins that maybe of use. WordPress has multiple plugins for this. One of the better ones is WordFence. Very popular.
- Make sure there are backups made to the site.
- Very important to update plugins and the WordPress core system when updates are available.
Another aspect to take on board is actually securing a site with an ‘SSL cert’. This is crucial. It’s the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This is a must for Ecommerce sites that take credit card payments. Google has also indicated this is a positive ranking factor (albeit smalll factor) so sites now adopt the SSL cert to not only tighten security but also help with the Google ranking as a matter of course.
Updating and Maintainance
When updating content on the client’s website I can also perform maintenance tasks as well. This is an ideal scenario as not only is the website content updated but the maintenance tasks can also be completed at the same time, this is a cost effective maintenance solution. Oftentimes I have found a client is unable or simply doesn’t have the time to make updates and/or maintain their website. They prefer this is left to the web designer. Sixmile Design can advise and put together a maintenance package depending on your needs or update on an ad-hoc basis as well as other website design services. This could be a one-off site redesign or monthly contract depending on what you need. Please feel free to get in contact on 086 3511769 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org