When a website goes live, it’s been broadcasted on social media and promoted, it’s important that it’s not left on the virtual shelf to gather dust. A website is never finished, it must be kept up to date and relevant, used appropriately to achieve your goals and reach a return on investment. We often tell clients that when a website goes live, that’s actually when the hard work starts.
Why is a website maintenance plan important?
Let’s use the analogy of driving your car. Not the best analogy I must admit but bear with me for a moment. As you drive along day to day, your car gets dirty and there’s wear and tear. From time to time (regularly we hope) you book your car in for a service and depending on the age of the vehicle you might get an oil change, change the coolant, get new brake pads and wheel alignment. There’s a whole checklist of things that your mechanic works through to make sure you’re safe on the road. Regular checks save you time and money from much bigger issues down the road. What’s the saying, a stitch in time saves nine?
That’s probably not the best analogy but you know when your iPhone gives you that pesky notification that your phone needs updating or apps need updating? Every time you have that little ping you should probably be thinking your website needs its MOT too.
To look after your investment and keep getting a return, keep your website fit and fab. There’s a multitude of areas that are important such as speed, performance and search engine optimisation.
We recommend the following tactics to clients that support a web strategy over a short term to five year program.
Website Maintenance Plan
What is a website maintenance plan? A maintenance plan will provide assurance for business continuity by keeping the website serviced, technology, plugins and code base up to date and secure. The maintenance plan should also cover regression testing for new browser releases, new devices on the market and identifying how users are accessing the site to ensure it still works seamlessly on those devices.
How often should you review your website?
Monthly if not, quarterly website reviews are important. On a monthly basis an audit of the website should be carried out to assess site’s performance, speed, check for broken links, 404 pages and so on. Alongside a review of analytics to identify drop off pages, entry pages, bounce rates and so on to identify what improvements can be made and should be prioritised on a regular basis.
The big annual website review
An annual review of the website can be more qualitative. We recommend including the following five core pillars on the check sheet aligning these to your specific, measurable website goals to keep your site relevant and performing to your standards long after it’s gone live.
Goals – Is the purpose of the website still relevant?
We would propose at minimum an annual review of the website goals (these can be qualitative and quantitative).
Audience – How do you stay relevant?
As time goes on so too can your target audience. It’ll be important to annual review your user audiences to see if their needs are changing, how they communicate or wish to be communicated with is changing and adapt accordingly.
Brand – How has it moved forward?
As your brand grows, develops, your message evolves so too should the website. Building trust is about ensuring consistency across all touch points.
Competitor review – Have they changed?
Who are your competitors, are they still the same, how have they moved and changed and are we still showing that we’re different and positioned uniquely from them?
Technology and implementation – what needs to improve?
In the digital world technology moves forward at an alarming pace. Whilst it’s important to keep the site updated, secure and fast on a regular basis an annual review of the tech stack, changes in the digital environment such as Google algorithms and so on must be a part of annual improvements and investment back into the website.
As part of monthly maintenance or the annual review, it’s vital to renew domain names and check that website hosting is still sufficient to serve the bandwidth required from the changing demands on your website.
There’s a lot more than meets the eye and every website is different. You may have code from an old campaign that needs removing, your SEO strategy may require an overhaul depending on your keywords and if those are still relevant. This is a general guide and we suggest discussing a maintenance plan with your web developer when you go live to find the right balance for your website and business continuity.
- Check that images are being served at the correct size
- compress any images that weren’t compressed before upload – tinyPNG
- Remove images for media library that aren’t being used on the site
- Make sure images have alt tags
- Update any plugins to make sure there are no security issues and allow them to work with new versions of WordPress and updated browsers
- Remove any plugins that aren’t being used to stop bloating of the site
- Check speed and performance of site and fix any issues that may be contributing to lower scores