Do you do these 10 things during website maintenance?

You already know that it is essential to keep your website maintained so I won’t go into depth here about why website maintenance is important. What you may not know however is what kind of activities you should be carrying out when you maintain your site.

My name is Paul Edwards, I am a Web Consultant and Frontend Developer and I’ve been working in the web industry since 2005.

In this blog post I will discuss ten of the most commonly required things you should be doing if you want to keep your site running smoothly and want to minimise the risk to your brand, reputation and income. Your site is unique though so if you feel that you have any unanswered questions I would be happy to steer you in the right direction. Call me on 01903 527927.

What should you be doing to ensure your website runs smoothly?

The chances are that your website runs on a content management system such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or similar.

Most content management systems are written in PHP and do a great job of allowing you to edit and update your website with new content but do a pretty bad job of keeping themselves running smoothly.

People that make website software make mistakes and sometimes break things

Most content management systems are written using PHP and also use lots of extra little modules or plugins (more code) to extend their functionality. Over time code is improved, fixed and has features added or security vulnerabilities fixed. That’s why your input is needed to ensure that your website keeps running quickly and without issues.

Lets cut to the chase, what do you really need to do?

I advise that clients update their website monthly at the very least. If your not sure how often you should be maintaining your website then you can use this infographic about website maintenance frequency to work out how often you should be giving your website some love.

The following items are the minimum that I would recommend for monthly site maintenance but what you do should be scaled to the importance of your site or the income it generates.

  1. Content Management System core updates
  2. Plugin/module updates
  3. Offsite/onsite backup creation
  4. Cache clear
  5. GDPR data purge
  6. Security scan
  7. Server space check
  8. Database optimisation
  9. Contact form testing
  10. Redirection and 404 error checks

What is the purpose behind each of these tasks?

Let’s look at each of the 10 points listed above and briefly examine why each task should be completed.

1. Content Management System core updates

Core updates are issued quite frequently and minor updates tend to fix bugs and security vulnerabilities while major updates also tend to add new features and interface changes.

2. Plugin/module updates

Plugin updates are also very frequently required and just like the core updates, they tend to fix bugs and problems and are tested to ensure compatibility with the latest core updates.

3. Offsite/onsite backup creation

Offsite backups are important in case your website is hacked or deleted. An offsite backup will still be available if your server is damaged or your hosting company closes down. I recommend having both onsite and offsite backups.

4. Cache clear

Clearing your caches ensures that your visitors are seeing all of your most recent content and that any changes from plugin and core updates are seen on the public facing side of your site. I like to clear caches before and after carrying out updates, even if they are set to auto-purge at intervals.

5. GDPR data purge

This will be dependant upon your data protection/privacy policy but for a lot of my customers’ sites I carry out a monthly data purge of submitted data. This limits exposure in event of a data breach to the last 30 days of data. Remember, that information should not be stored longer than is necessary to carry out the task for which it was collected. A monthly data purge avoids old data being left on the site without reason.

6. Security scan

So long as you have your site locked down correctly in terms of security then this isn’t an absolute essential, but it is an extra feature that can provide value. A security scan can check your site for vulnerabilities and out of data code as well as scan your database for malicious entries and files outside of your website. Be aware that using security plugins can greatly increase the load on your server and shared hosting companies can get a bit upset about these plugins being used.

7. Server space check

Ongoing backups and the addition of site content and use of email can fill up your server quickly. If your server runs out of space then not only can you stop being able to send and receive email but your website might stop working correctly, your e-commerce basket won’t allow sales to process and your website won’t complete fresh backups.

8. Database optimisation

Addition and deletion of content and ongoing upgrades to your site core and plugins can leave lots of old data in your database causing it to increase in size. The bigger your database, the slower your site will run. Frequent optimisation of your database to clean it of old redundant information will help keep your site nimble.

9. Contact form testing

Updates to plugins and core can, sometimes, stop things working as intended. It is always worth checking that your forms validate and that the form processes the submitted data when it is used. Failure to do this could see you losing potential enquiries and sales.

10. Redirection and 404 error checks

Is your site receiving traffic to broken or old links? If you check for this information you can then put a redirect in place that sends that old traffic to somewhere more appropriate such as a new page or resource. Failure to do that will see visitors to broken links being greeted with an error 404 page which doesn’t give a good experience to the user.

Protect your brand reputation and income today

If you want to protect your brand and the income generated by your website but you aren’t sure about how to carry out your own site maintenance call me on 01903 527927 and we can have something in place today.

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