Like all things in life, even websites need tender loving care for them to function properly. In the case of websites, this comes in the form of regular maintenance. In this episode, I’m going to explain how you can keep your website in working order to prevent problems and make your website operate optimally. Questions that will be answered are:
- How do I prevent problems with my website?
- What do I need to know about maintenance?
- The website is online. What happens next?
Last time, in episode 5, I revealed the secret to an appealing website. For this, I gave you 5 keys: content, branding, brand design, accessibility, and structure. These keys help you to focus on your website visitors, in other words it enables you to address potential clients. Once you’ve used these keys, your website will be ready to go online. But what happens then?
Regular maintenance enables optimal operation
The best way of illustrating how to prevent problems with your website, is to compare it to the human body. When we take good care of ourselves by eating healthily, exercising and resting regularly, and listening to our needs and feelings, we can be sure there’s a bigger chance of staying healthy and living a happy life. Our immune system is strong and protects us against illness and deterioration of our body, so we can function optimally.
This also applies to your website. If we give it regular attention, we can prevent software from malfunctioning (bugs), contamination by viruses, infiltration by hackers and large quantities of spam email in the website’s email account. By giving your website regular maintenance, it will be protected from negative influences from outside and function the way it should, in order to provide the performance that you can expect from it.
Maintaining your website, how do you do that?
What do you have to do to prevent problems with your website? Unlike our body, a website doesn’t need daily care. Just a weekly check if everything on your website is still working is enough. While you’re at it, check if there are updates for the theme you’re using or for the plugins and make sure these are carried out. Let me remind you of the second episode in this blog series about themes, in which I advised you to use WordPress themes and plugins that provide regular updates. If you find out that the theme or a certain plugin is no longer being updated, look for a theme or plugin replacement.
You need to know that updates can actually cause problems. This happens when a plugin that has just been updated is no longer compatible with the other plugins. Apart from this, recent changes can also disrupt your website’s performance. That’s why I advise you to always make backups, both before and after making changes. Then you’ll at least have the previous version of your website to fall back on and you’ll be able to find the cause of the problem more easily and quickly.
What if something goes wrong anyway?
Also, you should optimize your database regularly. You can compare this to a detox of your body. In the same way that a detox removes waste from your body and improves organ function, a database optimization will clean up your website and if necessary, improve the performance of plugins and other parts. Besides this, you can increase the speed of your website by minifying or combining stylesheets, and by clearing web page caches. Remember to minify or combine the stylesheets again after making changes to the website and to subsequently check the effect of these changes on the website.
But what if, despite regular updates, backups and database optimization, something goes wrong with your website anyway? For example, when the layout is rearranged or when a theme is no longer working. The first thing you should check is if there are any error notifications. Usually, you can find out what caused the problem by reading these notifications. Another thing you can do, is use the backup to reset the website to the version prior to the update or changes. After that, you switch off the plugins one by one and check if the theme is working again. In this way, you can find out which plugin is causing problems.
Is something going wrong? Feel free to contact me!
Website maintenance checklist
Am I still making any sense? With this website maintenance checklist, you can keep your website in working order step by step:
- Check every week for updates of the theme you’re using or of the plugns and make sure these are carried out as soon as possible.
- Replace plugins that don’t have regular updates.
- Also check every week if your website is still performing properly by visiting it and checking every page. It’s best to do this in the non-work environment on a different device to the one you normally use.
- While you’re at it, check for error notifications in the backend as well, and if there are, check the error notification code. This will usually give you an indication of the cause.
- Then check if everything is still working. If not, reset the website to the previous version, and check all of the plugins one by one to see which plugin is causing problems.
- Make backups before and after you’ve made changes to the backend of your website.
- Optimize the website database once a month.
- Make sure your website is protected against spam and viruses, for example by using a security plugin or via your web host.
Nothing to worry about with my maintenance formula
Finally, the moment has arrived to put your website online. What happens next? Make sure you carry out regular maintenance, using my checklist. If despite this, there are problems, see if you can solve these yourself by following the instructions I gave you. Are you still experiencing problems? Don’t worry about it. I’ll gladly solve these for you with a one-time fix, in which I analyse the underlying cause, implement the solution and explain how you can prevent this from happening again. And if you don’t have the time to carry out maintenance yourself or if it’s too complicated for you, you can subscribe to my maintenance plan. With my maintenance formula you have nothing to worry about. While I make sure your website is performing the way it should, you can focus all of your attention on your business.