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When, How and Why Should You Update Your Website?

Jun 21, 2021

Website maintenance tasks are an important part of online security and performance. Below, we outline what you need to do to keep your website up to date, and how often you should complete it.

We all know the importance of having a professional, well designed business website, with great user experience and all the latest features. You’ve probably spent a good amount of time and a decent budget working with a web designer or development team to build your own perfect business site.

What many business owners don’t realise is that launching your site online is just the first step. While your new website may be performing at its optimum right now, keeping it running smoothly requires more than just a set and forget approach. Ongoing website maintenance is a vital part of your online presence and is essential if you want to get the best results from your site.

Why Do Websites Require Maintenance?

Think of your website as being like a garden. You can hire a landscaper to design a beautiful garden for you, but if you don’t maintain it, it will soon become overgrown. Your plants require care to continue to thrive, the soil conditions need to be monitored and adjusted, pest control measures need to be taken and there’s regular pruning and trimming to be done. In the same way your website is a living entity. The online landscape changes constantly and your site requires proper ongoing care in order to stay up to date and functioning correctly.

Failing to maintain your website can lead to a host of issues including broken functionality, security breaches, poor user experience, outdated content and compromised performance.

What Should Website Maintenance Include?

Website maintenance covers a number of different areas.

CMS Updates

If your website is built on a CMS such as WordPress you’ve probably seen required updates being flagged when you’ve logged into your website admin area. Your website is built on a CMS engine (the core WordPress software), one or more themes (the design, look and feel of your site) and multiple plugins (additional features and functionality).

These elements are all frequently being updated to add new features, fix bugs and patch up security vulnerabilities. In addition to this, whenever the core WordPress engine is updated, themes and plugins often need to update to remain compatible.

CMS updates are released in increments with each release having a version number. The more versions you are out of date by, the higher chance there is of errors occurring when you do eventually update. Not addressing updates as they are released can easily result in compromised functionality and user experience, as well as a much higher risk of security breaches from hackers.

Broken Link Checking

Broken links occur where you have linked from within your content to another page in your site, or elsewhere on the web, and the target link has changed or been removed. Broken links impact how users visit and interact with your site – we all know the frustration of clicking a link and landing on the dreaded 404 page!

If you are running online marketing, broken links can also have a negative impact on your SEO. Regularly scanning for and updating broken links takes a relatively short amount of time but is well worth doing.

Functionality Testing

Functional elements in a website can include everything from your contact form right through to full ecommerce or online booking systems. Because you may not often use these tools yourself you may not realise that they aren’t functioning correctly – would you know if your contact form wasn’t successfully sending messages through?

Testing your website systems regularly from the point of view of your customers allows you to identify and resolve any issues before they result in significant loss of business.

Security Scans

While keeping your CMS up to date is a key factor in preventing security breaches, it’s not 100% foolproof. Hackers are constantly finding new ways to access sites and even the best preventative measures are not always enough to stop them. Security scanning allows you to identify any malware or security vulnerabilities that have snuck through and resolve them quickly.

Backups

Backups are a non-negotiable in ongoing website management. Taking and storing regular backups ensures the integrity and security of your data and gives you a reliable version of your website to roll back to should there be any errors or security issues on the site that need to be resolved swiftly.

Performance Optimisation

Like a car, your website will become slower and less optimal in its performance over time. Even if you are not regularly changing or updating the content or features on your site, the online environment is still evolving and your site needs to be able to keep up with this.

Uptime Monitoring

Your website is your business presence and identity, available to your customers 24/7. Issues with your hosting, domain registration or site security can cause your website to go offline and unless you are checking in on it frequently you may not know. Uptime monitoring services alert you via email or SMS whenever your site experiences downtime so you can address any issues in a timely manner.

How Do I Manage My Website Maintenance?

The easiest and most efficient way to manage website maintenance is to establish a schedule. This ensures you have regular time set aside to run through updates, testing and optimisation and keeps your website consistently running in top condition.

How often do you need to perform maintenance on your website? There are any number of factors to take into consideration, including the complexity of your site and how much business you generate through it.

Generally speaking, a good frequency is:

  • Monthly for CMS updates, broken link checks and functionality testing
  • Quarterly for performance optimisation
  • Daily backups and security scans
  • Ongoing uptime monitoring

While this may look like a lot of work, the potential time and cost that may result from a broken or poorly functioning website is likely to hit you and your business much harder.

Need more help in managing your ongoing website maintenance? practiceedge offer fully managed WordPress care plans including all of the above tasks and the option of dedicated developer support time to provide hands on technical assistance with your website. With a range of package options available, you can have the peace of mind of knowing that your website is being professionally managed and maintained.

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