For any business, no matter big or small, your website is possibly one of the best investments you can make in terms of essential business marketing tools.
And these days approximately 7 out of 10 websites are created in WordPress, which is a database-driven CMS solution, allowing you to maintain the content yourself reasonably easily without requiring any special web development software.
Essentially it is an operating system, and like any operating system such as your laptop, tablet or smartphone, from time to time it will require technical maintenance to ensure it continues to be efficient, keep up to date with the latest technologies, but most importantly that it remains secure.
As a web developer, I regularly hear about websites being hacked or ‘broken’ or just running very slow, which can cost the owner hundreds to thousands of dollars to repair, not to mention loss of uptime of the website while the issue is being found and repaired.
Even a slow website, while it may be running fine, can lose you a lot of customers.
WordPress is a very secure system, and the majority of the issues mentioned above can be easily avoided, and you don’t necessarily need to pay anyone to maintain your WordPress website for you if you follow a few simple tips.
ENSURE YOUR LOGIN DETAILS ARE SECURE
On a quarterly basis it is wise to check that your login details are secure and even change your password, ensuring it is strong to ensure the security of your website access. I recommend a random 20 character password mix of letters and numbers. IF you have trouble remembering passwords, then a free download of LastPass or OnePassword will make it easy for you to generate and maintain your password so that you’ll never need to even remember them.
If you give others access to your website as well, set the User Level appropriately. If they don’t need full Administration access, then give them the basic access which is enough to change content but not mess with your settings or security.
BACKUP YOUR WEBSITE
If in the event your website was to be either maliciously attached or something broke, how long would it be down for and what would be the cost of fixing the issue? If you have a backup of the website the answer would be most likely no cost and about 5 minutes of downtime to reinstate the previous backup.
Adding a Backup plugin to your website such as Updraft ensure your website always has at least one recent copy of your website, and you can use plugins such as Updraft Plus to backup the site to another location such as Dropbox or Google, ensuring that worst case scenario and your hosting account was lost you can be back up and running in less than 30 minutes.
UPDATE YOUR PLUGINS, WORDPRESS & THEME
I can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain the ‘operating system’ of your website. WordPress runs on the main WordPress platform (operating system), and then your website runs a theme which gives it the unique appearance. Then to give it additional functionality the website has plugins added.
From time to time all three of these need to be updated, usually for two main reasons, which are to ensure security and to ensure running efficiency. In the same way you service your car, go for regular doctor visits, etc your website needs a checkup and service from time to time, or it will get sick!You can tell if your plugins, theme or WordPress require updating by logging into your website and you’ll see an orange dot with a number, in the sidebar, indicating how many plugins that need attention. It is advisable to never let this get over 5 as the more updates you require the more chance there is of something major going wrong.You can usually update these yourself, but you need to do it it a process.
Occasionally when WordPress updates, you may find the theme or plugins will no longer be fully compatible, which can cause issues with the performance and functionality, so ensuring you have a gameplan is important:
1. Backup the website and store a copy somewhere off the site’s hosting
2. Start by installing the WordPress update.
3. Install the theme update. You may need to contact your web developer if they licenced the theme for you. The update file is usually free if they have licensed it already.
4. And finally, update the plugins, but do them one by one to ensure they all work well, and once all have been updated test the site thoroughly to ensure everything works.
5. If you have concluded that everything is in working order you should then do another backup for safe keeping.
KEEP A LOG OF YOUR UPDATES
Keep a spreadsheet of when you did an update last, what was updated, etc, so that if you do happen to run into any issues and you need technical support you can tell them exactly what was done to the website and when, making the issue a lot easier to find a solution.
IF IN DOUBT, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL!
Website maintenance is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and should be done at least once a month. Ensuring your website is maintained correctly can also mean a big difference in the lifespan of your website, saving you thousands in the long term. If the 4 steps above may seem like a lot of work, then hire a reputable company to maintain your website for you.For just $55 per month, Smartfish offer an annual maintenance package for our clients where we maintain and monitor their website twice each month, which includes WordPress, theme, and plugins are all maintained, and a backup is archived each month offsite for protection.
We also scan your website for any malicious code, and if needed will remove the code, ensuring your website is always in tip-top condition.
We also offer this service for non-existing clients, upon enquiry.If maintained regularly, your website will ensure your online presence not only stays in top shape but can also ensure your website maintains a good ranking on Google.