Building and launching a website is a huge achievement for any business. But it’s also the start of something – an ongoing relationship with a new digital asset, and one which requires constantly attention.
Few things can survive unscathed without some TLC every now and then: we clear our cars, dust our houses, update our software. Websites are no different: right after launch, web teams should begin to lovingly tend to them on a near daily basis.
A business’s website is their window onto the world – and that means it needs constantly to look and perform its best. This is achieved through web maintenance. At Squibble, web maintenance is simply part of how we approach digital comms. You can contact us to talk about how we go about it, but this blog is a great place to learn the fundamentals.
What Does Website Maintenance Include?
Simply put, website maintenance incorporates all the techniques that should be employed to keep every element of a website in perfect working order. These elements comprise, broadly speaking, design, functionality and performance.
Design in this context refers to the aesthetic aspects of your website. Design trends change: sans serif fonts become fashionable where serif ones were once de rigeur, or pastel shades replace vibrant hues. A brand should stay true to itself amid these fads, but of course a website should never look old-fashioned; designers should keep things looking fresh.
Functionality is in many ways more serious. Does a site do what it is meant to? Do its buttons work, its ecommerce elements operate smoothly? Do all of its pages load, are there any broken links? Constant finessing of functionality is necessary to keep users engaged with a site: if everything isn’t working as it should, users will quit a site immediately.
And that brings us to performance. This is about all the “back-end” stuff of hosting and bandwidth, domain names and DNS servers. Developers need to stay on top of a site’s traffic and usage statistics in order to ensure it is capable of handling all it needs to: slower loading times or temporary failures will do a site – and a brand – a lot of damage.
Why Do Websites Need Maintenance?
Simply put, website maintenance is essential because websites are essential. First impressions count, and in this day and age people most often first encounter a business online. An attractive, functional website is step one in forming relationships with clients.
From good first impressions come eventual sales – and a site that is simply left to grow old and cranky over time will simply not take users from prospect to customer with anything like the reliability your investment demands. A better site delivers better ROI – it’s that simple.
Finally, consider the other benefits of regular web maintenance. A site’s security will be enhanced if, over time, it is updated – the holes hackers find to pass through can be filled by diligent webmasters, but are left open by ones who don’t keep their eye on the ball. Likewise, search engines reward regular updates: your listings on Google, Bing and the rest will improve if you pay you site a little extra attention.
How Hard Is It To Maintain A Website?
The good news is that all of this isn’t even that hard to achieve. Putting web maintenance at the heart of a business’s web strategy is the first step: starting to think about updates before a site is even launched can “bake in” the necessary flexibility to a website from day one.
Thinking of web maintenance as an ongoing cost makes a lot of sense: an often modest monthly fee can ensure that all of the necessary elements of a site are not just monitored but updated as and when they need to be. Knowledgeable designers can often put together a schedule ahead of time which predicts what might need doing when – but of course web maintenance also needs to be responsive.
The best websites are built on platforms which make updates easy. Often, content updates can be handled by internal teams – even broken links are easy enough to fix if an intuitive Content Management System has been put in place. Other updates – such as security fixes or design facelifts – should be handled by the experts – but even these are relatively straightforward for qualified professionals, and nothing like building a site from scratch.
What Is Website Maintenance Process?
Putting a simple process in place can add structure to all this activity:
- daily responsiveness to customer feedback or issues will keep users happy;
- monthly back-ups of your website will ensure that no catastrophes befall it;
- monthly software updates will keep things secure and safe from hackers;
- quarterly checks of forms and buttons is ideal, ensuring that everything works as it should and no data is being lost;
- and an annual full website test ever year, testing for compatibility, functionality and other issues, is a good idea to ensure nothing gets missed
Is all this hard? Absolutely not. But do websites need maintenance? Yes – as we think we’ve demonstrated here, they absolutely do.