Look no further than this checklist when conducting in-depth maintenance on your website.
Your website is like a car: if you fail to get routine oil changes, the vehicle’s performance will continue to drop until the engine stalls. Don’t let this happen to your website after all the hard work you’ve invested in getting it up and running. You, your web developer and your hosting company should follow the maintenance checklist below.
- Thoroughly review and test the entire website (annually or after any updates). Set aside time to methodically and thoroughly review all pages of the website. You may find broken links, features that don’t work or areas that can use improvement. Pay special attention to overall user experience, load time, missing or outdated content, missing page titles or meta tags (content descriptions), inconsistent styles or formatting, typos or grammatical errors, features and business logic, and compliance with certain accessibility standards (if applicable) such as ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
- Test your website forms/checkout process (quarterly or after any updates). Make sure to regularly test all calls to action and points of contact/sale, such as “Contact Us” forms and the checkout process on your website. There is nothing worse than discovering your contact form stopped working after a website update and you lost business opportunities due to this flaw.
- Review your KPIs, SEO and analytics reports (monthly). In order to gauge your website’s performance effectively, you must set and measure the KPIs (key performance indicators), search engine ratings and the general website analytics for at least a month. This process will indicate the effectiveness of the website and will help expose possible problems.
- Security updates and bug fixes (monthly or as patches are released). Be sure that both your web developer and hosting provider update the software and install upgrades, security patches, bug fixes or any other updates that may compromise the operating system, web server, database, CMS, etc. Ideally, patches should be installed as soon as they are released. Failure to install a security patch may make your website vulnerable to an attack.
- Renew your domain names (annually). Ensure that all your domain names are renewed in a timely manner. Your website’s domain name is your most prized possession. Allowing it to expire can mean catastrophe.
- Check backups (annually). Be sure that your entire website is backed up — the website itself and the data. Have your web developer or hosting company thoroughly check the backups to ensure they are working and that the data is retrievable.
- Test browser compatibility (annually). As time passes, website layouts or technology may become incompatible with new browsers. Regularly review and test your website in various versions of mainstream browsers: Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari.
- Update dates and copyright notices (annually). Review and update any copyright dates or any date-specific text or references throughout your website. Your homepage especially should contain no stale or outdated information (e.g., a year-old press release).
- Review contact information (annually or as needed). Contact information on your website should always be up to date and accurate, including team member names, addresses and phone numbers. A change in staff responsibilities may require emails to be routed to a different team member. Any real-time changes to your organization should automatically trigger you to think, “Should I update the website?”
Just like any other business tool, your website requires regular checkups and maintenance. Industries and organizations are ever-changing and your website should match to stay on the cutting edge. With these measures in place, it’s sure to run like a well-oiled machine.