It’s time for your new business to create a web site. Or perhaps you are an established business with an outdated website that wants a new look. Regardless of why you need a web site, there are some things you need to know before you get started.
Even a simple website is complicated. Almost all websites rely on some type of content management system (CMS) to make it easy to store, update and manage the website content. The CMS stores its data in a database. All these components are stored on your web hosting provider’s infrastructure. Your website is made visible to visitors because the CMS dynamically builds your site’s web pages on the web server provided by your hosting company.
Once your website is completed, you might be thinking “OK I’m done, I can focus on other business tasks.” Depending on the type of website you have, you will want to “feed” it with new content periodically, so your site does not appear “stale” to visitors. If you sell products on your site, you will want to update your product catalog by adding and removing products. Does your site have a Blog? If so, you should add new blog posts on a regular basis. Adding fresh content periodically helps search engines know your site is alive and well.
All websites will require periodic maintenance. All the backend components (e.g., CMS, web server, database, security components) will require updates over time. Failure to maintain your website can lead to security issues or website going offline down the road. If you built your own website, you may be qualified to perform your own maintenance. Most website owners will need to rely on someone with experience to maintain it. Typically, the website developer can help with this.
When I build a website for a customer, I use WordPress as the CMS. WordPress is one of the most popular CMS accounting for more than 40% of all websites worldwide. WordPress uses a combination of themes, templates, and plugins to define the look and functionality of the site. All these components are updated several times per year to fix security vulnerabilities, improve performance, and increase reliability. Each month multiple updates will be released for your website. These updates can be configured to install automatically, but it is not recommended. In rare cases, an update can break your website. You might lose the use of one feature, or the entire site can be taken offline. Performing these updates requires planning and regular site backups to ensure your site will keep running.
When I build a site for a customer, I recommend they sign up for a yearly maintenance plan. The plan includes weekly backups, site monitoring, and the installation of all the updates released each month. I use the same plugins and themes on my production/development websites as I do on customer sites. Prior to updating client websites, I perform the upgrades on my three sites first. If something goes wrong, I can determine which update caused the problem and fix it. I can file a bug with the developer of the update and request an updated version. Worst case scenario, I can restore the site from a backup. In addition to performing routine updates, I also monitor the security components and logs for customers.
As you can see, a website needs regular care and feeding to keep it healthy.