This being the fourth article on how to manage a Website, we finally get to the actual Website. Depending on your hosting situation, this very well might be the only part you have to concern yourself with. However it is important, as mentioned in parts 1, 2 and 3, that you review your responsibilities to keeping the operating system, servers and languages up to date – especially from a security perspective.
The complexity of this part of managing a Website is often determined by how the Website was built, what language or platform it was built on and how the Website functions. A static HTML site, for example, doesn’t need a whole lot of care in order for it to remain stable and secure, while a content management system (CMS) will require more attention and a custom application potentially even more.
Beyond content updates, a common thread through these articles, security is a primary objective to managing any Website. CMS’s such as WordPress and Drupal make this chore fairly easy by letting us know within the administrative area when plugins, modules and the core CMS need to be updated. It is important to check for these alerts and monitor announcements from their parent companies and contributors for patches and updates.
Disaster Preparedness & Recovery
Beyond security it is important to ensure that you protect yourself against unplanned disaster. Servers crash, data becomes corrupt and people make mistakes (even when the warning says ‘Are you sure you want to delete this?). Having a backup plan is essential. You should ensure that you have multiple backups (daily, weekly and monthly) and they a stored on different systems. Also be sure to check your backups on a regular basis. Nothing is worse then finding out that your backup system is not working after a disaster.
Usability and Testing
Usability is something that requires regular attention. Even the most simple Websites are subject to having usability issues simply because of constantly changing Web browsers and computers. More complex applications tend to show their issues and bugs over the lifespan of the site. Even the most stringent testing program prior to launch will not come up with every single user scenario. Bugs will exist and will need to be squashed as they come to light. Probably one of the most important exercises a Website manger can do on a regular basis is to use the site, try things out and ensure everything is working as planned.
We have all been to a Website that clearly has not been given any attention in a long time. There is a stale feeling and design aside, it says something about a business when such an important marketing tool is taken for granted. The frequency of updating wil be determined by your marketing strategy, your business type and online audience. Blogs are a great way to keep a site fresh with new content, but don’t forget to post and show off you offline efforts such as newsletters and marketing pieces.