Monday, April 29, 2013

Keeping a CMS Website up to Date

A CMS or content management system is a great way to organize your website. If you are not sure what I am talking about, you might know this type of website as a Wordpress (WordPress Maintenance) or Joomla site, as those are both examples of a CMS. A CMS can be built into your website so that the user can make edits to the site, change pictures, text and other content in a user friendly way. They can also make customizations easily by using option tabs and widgets.

Yes there are many advantages of running a CMS on your website beyond just blogging. You can modify and customize your website with minimal use of CSS or HTML code. However, with many advantages of a CMS there are also a few things to keep in mind while running a CMS website. It is very important that you keep up with your CMS management.

Keeping Plugins up to Date

Many websites use plugins that offer extra benefits like site optimization, security and adding custom code automatically to your CMS site. If you do not update these plugins you will be missing out on the latest and greatest features that the developer has to offer. Also when a developer releases an update it could be because there are bugs or problems that need to be addressed.

Another reason to update your plugins is that running an old version could place your site in danger or even make it un-accessible for visitors. Plugins can update and change code within your website. Sometimes this new code is not compatible and causes issues in your website. This can make your site vulnerable to attacks from identity thieves or cause you to lose business. It is best to put your updates on manual so you can make sure your site is properly backed-up before you perform any software updates.

Keeping Your CMS Theme up to Date

Similar to plugins themes have embedded code that customizes your website. If you run a version that is too old you will also put your site at risk. Old themes can cause problems with outdated coding and may not work in all web browsers. In order to make sure your visitors have the best possible experience on your website, make sure your themes are up to date. If you have auto upgrades enabled your CMS will automatically update to the latest version, sometimes this new version is not compatible with your current theme and your website could go offline.

If you are maintaining your own website you might not know this has happened for several days or more if no one reports it. This can be devastating to your business. If you run an e-commerce website you will feel the effects of such downtime immediately. Your sales will plummet if this occurs.

Keeping Your CMS Version up to Date

It is also important to have the latest version of your CMS software. Like themes and plugins, by having the latest version of software you will be getting the latest and greatest that your CMS has to offer. WordPress is by far the most popular CMS these days. If you are using WordPress it is easy to update the WordPress software so there is no excuse to not do so. Before updating your CMS version software you should be sure to make a backup of your site in case you need to revert back to the older version.

What if my CMS is not up to Date?

If you do not update your CMS, its theme or your plugins you risk having downtime. This means you will lose sales, business leads and set your website up for even more loss in the future. Search engines like Google use total uptime as a factor in deciding search results. If your site is not online you can lose your rankings that you worked hard to obtain. The reason this is so important to search engines is because they want to give their users the best possible experience. If the site they are trying to visit is not online that that obviously is not considered a good experience.

The management and maintenance of your website will make sure your site is operating smoothly and continuously in order to generate optimal uptime and provide a good experience for your users. Your site is an important part of your business and making sure it is online to work for you is essential. Outsourcing your business website maintenance makes a lot of sense and leaves you to handle other aspects of your business.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Basics of Website Maintenance and Management

Marketing your website and trying to make sales while gaining audience members is not all there is to owning and operating a website. You also have to do all the website maintenance. Website management is like many other maintenance duties. It gets overlooked until something goes wrong or when an owner wonders why no one visits it.  The same effort and mentality of owning a physical location needs to be involved in an online presence. Then the webmaster is wishing they were more on top of the ball with their maintenance tasks.

What is involved in Website Maintenance?

Website maintenance service includes things like domain re-registration, backing up files, scanning for security breaches, monitoring spam comments, managing contacts and questions, changing information and photos, updating plugins and software, as well as creating high quality content for your readers. 

This may seem like something that is integrated into your normal activities for your website but the stats don’t lie. Most people brush these tasks under the carpet and then bad things can happen. One common example even for tech savvy web masters is when they need to update their CMS version and do not back up their files.

Before you know it you have hit the ‘Automatic Update’ button and their site crashes because it is not compatible with the new version of the CMS. The last time you did a backup was last month and you lose a ton of good content. This is all too common and only a tiny mishap compared to what could go wrong if you don’t keep up with basic website management.

What Happens When Website Maintenance Doesn't get done?

When website maintenance tasks go undone you are putting it all at risk. You need to provide a good user experience with relevant and rewarding information to your website visitors.  Continual updates, great design, ease of use, and other areas should not be overlooked.

If you do not maintain your site properly your main source of income can be quickly lost. When a website has substantial down time or lacks quality it gets affected in several ways. First people cannot interact with it so you will lose out on sales and potential customers. The relations between new and existing customers will become negative as will your relationship with search engines like Google.

Website down time is the most obvious reason to lose rankings because if a website is offline the user will have a poor experience. If your site is ranking in the top five for a keyword and a user clicks on your link only to find a down site, that is considered a bad experience. Google does not want their customers (internet users) to have bad experiences. All the sites Google refers people to they want to be the best.  If this happens enough you will lose rank, thus you will lose traffic and this could impact your sales not only for the time your site is down but for the future as well.

What Can You Do to Make Life Easier?

One thing some professionals do is outsource their website management tasks to an outside agency. This might seem over kill but it is a small fee compared to the amount of time you spend doing these duties. If something goes wrong you would be willing to pay triple to go back in time and have that security.
An outside agency will make sure you do not have any tasks swept under the rug. Your backups will be taken care of every time you schedule them. When you allow an outside agency to take over your management duties you will have peace of mind that things will go smoothly. If things do go wrong you will also have support from a qualified team to guide you through the process of getting back to where you need to be.

Basic website management is all about taking care of your website. You need to make sure your site is getting backed up, versions are being updated and security is being held in check and that your website is a breadth of knowledge on your offerings and looks active. If you are not absolutely sure you can keep up with the duties you should consider hiring an outside agency to give you peace of mind.

Think of what downtime will mean to your website and your business. If your site does go down or you have a security risk it could damage your reputation and your ability to earn an income. E-commerce sites are especially at risk since they rely on the web to directly generate their income. The cost to hire an agency will be far less than having to start your website over again from scratch.