One of the main strengths of online media that is lacking in other forms of media is that it can easily be changed, updated and enhanced, and have no bad repercussions on a business.
Actually, if a website or application offers the same content and experience throughout, without making any changes, it soon becomes unusable, insecure and obsolete.
- Have you streamlined your code, made the XHTML more semantic, and validated your markup?
- Have you checked the spelling on of your content, implemented the latest SEO practices, and removed any legacy code?
Well, if you have done all these things, it is not time to rest on your laurels. There are many other things that you need to do in order to maintain your website properly.
1: Make sure that your content is clean and up-to-date
A website that has, over the years, accumulated dozens or maybe hundreds of pages will have content that is obsolete.
Website maintenance includes the continuous and regular review of static content, which may require updating and correcting.
It goes without saying that content that is placed on a blog or a news page will definitely become outdated, but may not require changing. In such scenarios, web maintenance advice that the content is posted as a new entry and the information updated accordingly.
Some of the content that should be updated regularly and is of great importance includes:
a. Policy, Terms of Service, Terms & Conditions
If the policies and terns pages are not updated regularly, then legal issues may arise, when they do not reflect the current procedures and standards of the company. It is imperative that you make the reviewing and updating of these pages part of your routine web maintenance process.
b. Documenting Software
The documentation that is associated with your products and services may also become obsolete, especially when you consider new releases and bug fixes.
Where there is time, include modifications and regular additions to the documentation when you do your routine maintenance tasks, especially where they are hosted online and can be downloaded.
c. Check your contracts
The services and products that you sell may sometimes require entering into contracts with suppliers and other partners. Ensure that the document is updated, and reflects the latest standards and policies.
d. Clean up your content
Where you have content that encourages engagement through comments and user feedback, you should make sure that there is no spam living on your website or blog.
Yes! This can be a laborious task, but it is well worth the time spent. At least go to the content that elicited the most responses and manually delete comments and feedback that is linked to “funny” sites.
Similarly, check out your tags and clean them up. Some tags can be changed to better represent a topic. Polish up your tagging system to make it more streamlined.
On the topic of tagging, close comments on popular posts so you avoid spam and link dropping.
2. Repairs, Upgrades and Bug Fixes
One of the most repetitive tasks when it comes to web maintenance is fixing errors, broken links, bugs and incompatibilities with browsers.
When performing website maintenance with respect to fixing these issues, the following should be adhered to:
a. Check URLs and Broken links too
As you check for the accuracy of URLs, do not forget to check for broken links, both external and internal. This is an easy task that can be done using various online and desktop tools.
Link checking should go beyond checking on the accuracy of URLs. You should also check and confirm that all images and external files are references in the proper manner.
b. Make updates to your CMS and Plugins
For those who use popular CMS like WordPress or Joomla, it is necessary that you make updates as the developers of these CSM release them.
Updates address a plethora of issues, one of the most important being the security of your website. Other issues can be related to insufficient code, or the website just fails to work as it should.
One of the most popular CMS is WordPress. It is primarily used for creating bogs, although it can also be used to create websites.
There are thousands of plugins built specifically for WordPress, and you have to make sure that your plugins are running the current version and not an outdated one.
If you have obsolete plugins that have not been updated by the author, you should probably disable them because they make your website or blog insecure.
WordPress has made it very easy to update your plugins, by sending you notifications when there is an update available – these updates can be done with a few clicks of the mouse.
You are also able to see the finer details of the plugin when you go to the plugins page on your dashboard.
Updating plugins on your WordPress site should be a priority to avoid security lapses.
Upgraded versions of your CMS may not support each and every tweak and plugin that you install and customize. Make sure that you get new versions or replace them before you upgrade the CMS.
3. Browser Compatibility Maintenance
It should be routine for you to make sure that your website or blog is properly displayed on all available browsers and devices. All aspects should be as you intended them to be and any errors should be addressed promptly.
Although having a valid, semantic code will somewhat ensure that you have cross-browser functionality, you should make a point to do a manual check, or if possible, automated checks so that you have optimal browser compatibility.
a. Check for compatibility with less-popular browsers
It is a common task for businesses to check for compatibility with older browser versions. However, some forget to check for compatibility with the latest versions of browsers that are not commonly used.
These browsers include Opera, Safari and Chrome. You should check for compatibility of the browsers on both Windows and Macintosh OS. You may sometimes find CSS being displayed oddly with Safari on Macintosh and this does not happen with Safari on Windows.
4. Much More than Validation and Web Standards
Traditionally, web maintenance revolves around the regular and continuous validation of pages, especially after the addition of new features or content. The styles and markup language have to be validated. However, there are other tasks that one must do beyond the validation and web standards; valid code does not make good code always.
a. Get clean and lean XHTML
Look for parts of your markup that can be made smaller in size.
It is common for web designers to code a page when they are suffering from what is popularly known as “Divitis”. This describes the scenario where web designers use the <div> tag even where it plays no role at all.
Web maintenance should be done to make the markup language leaner and meaner so the website performance is enhanced.
Another bothersome aspect that should be looked at during web maintenance is too many attributes. Although this is not as bad as Divitis, it requires attention.
When you stop putting IDs and Classes on every element of a website, the code becomes cleaner and simpler to manage. A good practice would be to stop targeting each element and use inheritance principles in your CSS, thereby making your code meaner and more efficient.
Note: In some cases, removing some attributes will make the code cleaner and improve the performance of your markup, but this should be done carefully; sometimes this may bring negative effects to your CSS albeit to small levels.
c. Optimize and clean your CSS
When you have constantly and regularly been developing CSS over the years, you could find your CSS files becoming overstuffed, unreadable and difficult to maintain.
As you have grown in the field of coding, you may have created more robust code that would accept any future changes, but what about the code that you wrote when you started the website?
CSS files, over the years, can get redundancies which will hinder the speed of the site. You can use various online and desktop tools to validate your CSS.
At times, it may require you to manually make changes to your CSS. If you are combining CSS files to minimize HTTP requests, then you will have to do that manually.
You may also have to change the naming conventions for more robust functioning. For example, you could use “promo button” instead of “green button” since the color could change.
5. Enhance Accessibility
You have validated your markup and done best practices to clean up your code. Your site is generally accessible to users who come to your page using a variety of browsers.
However, new content can affect the accessibility of your site, and this is why you have to do continuous accessibility testing during maintenance.
a. Testing mobile access
If you have a mobile version of your website, then you need to run regular tests especially when you add new content. The maintenance of a mobile version of your website dictates that you constantly monitor the performance of the site and make adjustments as necessary.
6. CSS3 and HTML5 features
You will find that not all browsers are compatible with CSS3 and HTML5 enhancements. These new techniques are better suited to newer browsers which have the capacity to support them.
When doing maintenance, you should look at the areas of your website that can be made better through the use of targeted CSS3 and HTML5 techniques.
You would have to ensure that the changes in these areas will be able to degrade gracefully when being viewed in browsers that do not support these new coding techniques.
The beauty of these techniques is that they can progressively help you do away with old code and any hacks that you could have used on your site in the past.
7. Check your speed
Modern web development has been caught up in the need to have fast loading websites. This is informed by the fact that users will abandon a site that takes too long to load a page.
People are now connected to high speed internet providers and therefore expect websites to load much faster. This is why you should check and ensure that your website is loading at fast speeds so you do not lose traffic.
Analyzing the performance of a website will highlight features that may be slowing it down so you can make the requisite changes to increase the speed.
8. Adding comments to your code
Whether you have new or old code, and despite the fact that you have validated and cleaned it up, you would benefit from optimizing it further by adding comments to your coding.
a. Commenting on the Markup
Commenting on your markup may not contribute a lot, but it will make future changes to the code that much easier. If a Div has a comment such as footer, then you know that any content that goes into that section will appear in the footer.
This is especially important at the bottom of the code, where you may have a lot of nested Div tags.
An example of a div that has a comment looks like this:
</div><!– /content – inner –>
c. Comment on your CSS and organize it
During, maintenance, you should inspect your CSS code and see if improvements can be made through commenting or through making organizational modifications. Some developers will include global styles at the top of their CSS files, and then indent CSS sections to match with the indenting of the HTML tags they are matched with.
9. Website analytics and conversions
Web maintenance should involve regular analysis of site traffic, traffic sources, bounce rates and other statistics related to performance and traffic. The analysis of these statistics lets you know where changes and improvements have to be made.
a. Improve your CTAs (Call To Action)
Suppose you find that your website has lower conversions than you had expected, then the reason could simply be the natures and placement of your CTAs.
There should be a clear path to your services and products and the CTA too. Basically, in this step, you will be making sure that users can get to the important parts of your website with ease.
10. User feedback should inform your maintenance tasks
Every website should provide a channel through which users can give feedback on the performance and quality of the website, products and services.
The basic methods is the use of email, but it would be great if you had a form that people would use to give feedback.
This feedback is crucial during maintenance since it gives an idea of the areas that are not functioning as they should.
The usability of your website is a crucial element in the success of the site in converting traffic into paying customers.
11. Check for downtime
There is nothing as damaging as a website that suddenly goes down.
Imagine that your website goes down just as you are going to sleep, and you do not realize this till the next day in the afternoon.
The damage done to the credibility of the site will be horrible.
You must ensure that you have put proper measures to guard against downtime, and find a way to get an alert as soon as there is any downtime.
The importance of web maintenance cannot be understated. Maintaining your website ensures that it is operating at optimum levels and your customers will reward you for that. Maintenance can be a time consuming task, but the rewards are far greater than the amount of resources that you out towards it.