When designing your site, think about how you will maintain and modify it so that it can change and expand as your company grows.
“Oh, the joys of laundry,” says technology writer Wendy Cholbi. “It’s a multi-step process that never really ends – because even on the rare occasions when everything is washed, dried, folded and put away, you just know that more dirty laundry is going to pile up almost immediately.”
Her analogy is spot on – website maintenance is often a relentless task only really noticed when nobody is doing it. But you don’t need to be paying costly monthly fees to a web design company to keep your site contemporary.
“Your website is your shopfront to the world, it is the way you present yourself to potential new customers and prospects, and it should also be seen as an investment in your business – helping you to achieve and maintain growth, and build your revenue,” says online marketing specialist Anton McCarthy.
“Your homepage is the front door. Keep it smart, tidy, effective – and a destination that will compel people to keep coming back to knock on when they need what it is you have to offer.”
Companies often pour large amounts of money into employing professional web designers to create a slick, visually appealing and intelligent website. While this can certainly be a worthwhile investment, many SMEs then overlook the fact that to stay up to date with trends and current topics, a website needs constant attention.
By learning some basic design and web skills, even the most non-technical and non-creative types can keep their website fresh and current without having to regularly seek outside help.
Content management systems (CMSs) may sound scary, but by getting a handle on how to navigate them you can mix up the content and look of your homepage. Think of how you could modify the homepage in light of Christmas offers or Boxing Day sales – things like the subheading under your logo, the main body text, menus and image layout. You don’t need graphic design skills to shuffle your page around or add new text.
Having some basic website maintenance tools and tactics under your belt in times of crisis can be extremely beneficial, as Cholbi outlines:
Back up your website
When disaster strikes you need to be prepared. “If your web host provides back-ups for you, make sure you find out how often those back-ups happen and where the back-up files are stored. You need to be able to access those files or request a site restore at any time of day or night. You may want to set up your own back-up system, especially if your web host doesn’t do that for you (or doesn’t do it frequently enough),” she says. And make sure it’s stored off-site, in case your whole server crashes.
Update software regularly
Check weekly for updates as this is one of the most simple ways to keep your site running at its optimum. “If you’re using WordPress, for instance, the software itself is constantly being tested and improved, as are your plugins and theme. Security patches are issued regularly, and it’s important to apply these to keep your site as safe as it can be.”
Sign up to a free website monitoring service
While services like Pingdom or UptimeRobot won’t fix website problems, they’ll look at downtime and loading speed (notifying you by email or text message even if your site is down for one minute) and you can then submit the problem to your web host.
Get round-the-clock access to log-in information
Things like your website design log-in, your web hosting account log-in, domain name registrar log-in and so on.