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Websites aren’t something you create once, and then you’re done. You need to constantly care for them and do ongoing website maintenance to ensure they do the job as effectively as in day one.
Once you’ve built your website, and it’s up and running, make note of a few main web maintenance tasks that you need to remember to do on a weekly (or even daily) basis moving forward.
To help you out, I have organised these tasks by how often you should perform them: quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily.
You worked hard to build a website that’s intuitive to users and drives the kind of actions you want them to take. The way people use the web changes frequently. Sometimes too fast. A website design that felt natural and intuitive in 2022 wouldn’t probably perform as well 4 months down the line.
To make sure that your website continues to make intuitive sense for users and work well on all devices – especially with Google moving towards a 100% mobile-only indexing – perform user (and usability) testing once every 3 or 4 months.
I use automated tools to capture user behaviour and user feedback for all websites I maintain. Based on these results, I make (or recommend) changes to the website owners.
As far as eCommerce website features go, the most important type of functionality on your website is the purchasing function. If it stops working, or even if it’s glitchy for any reason, you could lose out big on profits until you catch the problem and fix it.
Have someone in your company (or externally hired) make test purchases to see how the process works. Have them do this on different devices and in different browsers, so you can figure out if there are any snags in the process.
If there’s anything about the process that isn’t seamless, you’ll want to find out and update it as soon as possible.
If your website includes any form plugins you want visitors to fill out, you want to be confident these all work properly as well.
At the same time that you make your test purchases, go through the process of filling out all the forms on the website. In this case, too, make sure you try them on all the devices and browsers your visitors might use. I use automated tools to detect form drop-offs and form issues, by storing all interactions and submissions.
Again, if any of your forms aren’t working as they’re supposed to, you could be missing out on valuable leads, so make sure you catch the problem sooner rather than later.
Every time someone clicks on a link that leads to a 404 page, it’s disappointing. When that dead link is on your website, it makes your business look bad and leads people away from the page you want them to be on, which is why you need to perform preventative maintenance.
No matter what you do, you’ll end up with broken links on your website from time to time as other websites you link to move or die or change domains. You may not be able to avoid them completely, but you can make sure they don’t stay on your website long by making it part of your regular website maintenance. Every few months, check for broken links and either remove them or replace them with updated links.
Finding broken links is actually easier than you might think. There are a lot of free tools available that automatically check websites for broken links, such as Google Search Console. Because these tools make the process so simple, you should easily be able to fix any broken links you find quickly.
You hear about high-profile security breaches all the time, and you can only assume that there are even more low-profile ones you never hear about. Securing your website from hackers needs to be a major priority for anyone that runs a website – and it’s even more important for eCommerce businesses who deal with customers’ private data. Don’t put your website and visitors needlessly at risk.
One of the most important website maintenance practices you should plan on for security is checking that all your hosting software, server platforms, CMS, plug-ins, and scripts are up-to-date. Usually, when developers release updates for these, it’s to improve the security or patch up a vulnerability they’ve found.
It happened to all of us: you work on a project all day long, and then something goes wrong with your computer, and you lose your entire project.
If you’re not careful, though, the same thing could happen to your website. If a hacker does somehow get through, they could wipe you out in one fell swoop. But if you have a current backup solution, fixing the problem will be much easier.
Make sure you have an automated solution to create an updated backup of your website at least once a month.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console provide a ton of useful information about how people are finding and using your website. Make sure your website is accomplishing what you want it to and figure out what about it’s working well and what still needs improvements by logging in to check your analytics at least once a week.
Some businesses will benefit from checking it more often than that, and brand-new businesses can expect traffic to be slow to start, but it’s important to keep an eye on your website’s growth and success as you go. Google Analytics is the best place to do that and a crucial resource for finding ways to improve things like SEO and site engagement.
In addition to these Google platforms, there are more ways to track user engagement, user behaviour and to capture user feedback and act upon it.
Don’t skimp on website maintenance: just like car or home maintenance, website maintenance is crucial. But it’s important and can save you time, money, and unnecessary trouble in the long run.
Get these website maintenance steps on your calendar and stick with them. Your website will thank you!
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