But websites have evolved to become much more than just digital shop windows or corporate brochures. They’re at the very heart of most organisations, capturing and storing critical data, automating processes, and integrating with core business functions such as operations, sales, marketing and finance.
So, does the care you give your website reflect how important it is to your business?
Often, just how much a business depends on its website only becomes apparent in the event of a problem. By then of course, the damage – financial, reputational or both – has already been done.
It shouldn’t take a crisis to remind you how vital your website is. As you do for all the other critical assets in your business, you need to schedule in time to carry out regular essential maintenance.
Why is it essential to maintain your website?
- To ensure business continuity
Imagine for a moment the worst-case scenario: part or even all your website isn’t working. A security vulnerability might have left it exposed to a virus or a malicious attack by cyber-criminals, an update may have caused it to crash, or you could have accidentally overwritten a crucial file.
Whatever the cause, the outcome is the same. Your website is offline, your business cannot continue trading as normal, and every minute of downtime means lost revenue.
- To keep your business & your customers secure
Keeping your website secure is paramount. It’s a portal into your organisation, and if you’re not continually monitoring threats and updating security precautions, you’re leaving yourself – and your customers – exposed to a range of hazards.
Cyber-criminals trawl the internet, searching for sites with weaknesses that can be exploited. Using sophisticated techniques that are constantly changing, they can breach an inadequately secured website to deploy malware, steal sensitive data, or lock out the website owner and hold them to ransom.
The cost implications of having your website hacked can be huge, going far beyond the inconvenience of lost revenue. If you negligently allow the personal data of customers to be compromised, you’ll be liable to significant penalties and fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office. Not to mention the cost of losing customer trust and the consequential damage to your brand reputation.
- To optimise website performance
Keeping your website updated and secure will help to improve its reputation with search engines, boost your SEO performance and advance your Google ranking.
- To deliver the best visitor experience
Scheduling regular maintenance will ensure your website functions exactly as it should, delivering a first-rate user experience to visitors. Your website may be the first time prospective customers encounter your brand. If something doesn’t work as it ought to – for example, it doesn’t display correctly, or a link takes the user to a dead-end or frustrates a visitor in any way, they’ll simply go elsewhere.
- So you can have total peace of mind
Your website is fundamental to your organisation. Ensuring it always performs as it should and is resilient to every risk or threat will bring you peace of mind and leave you free to focus on running your business.
What should your website maintenance programme include?
A good maintenance programme will take steps to address and minimise all the above threats. It will do this by:
- Taking regular full site back-ups: Doing this will guarantee business continuity. In the event a website becomes corrupted, compromised or lost for any reason, it can be reinstated and the business up and running again in a matter of hours.
- Keeping software updated: To prevent a website from becoming vulnerable to security issues, including threats from hackers and malware, a maintenance programme must include keeping all software up to date. Because websites hosted on content management systems (CMS) use third-party plugins and applications, they represent a higher risk level, but by making sure updates to plugins and core software are regularly installed, this risk can be mitigated.
- Checking SSL certification: Businesses that take online payment from customers or transmit personal information via login pages or forms on their websites need to protect data through SSL certification – a protocol for encrypting Internet traffic and verifying server identity.
A website maintenance programme will check that, where applicable, SSL certification is valid and up to date. If certification is allowed to lapse, search engines will flag a website as insecure, making it unlikely prospective visitors will open it.
- Review analytical data: Any maintenance schedule should include reviewing the data Google and other search engines look for when determining relevance to search enquiries. This data will indicate how your website’s pages are seen by search engines and highlight any areas where adjustments need to be made to improve content.
- Check all aspects of the user experience: A good maintenance programme will include reviewing all the technical elements that contribute to making sure visitors have a consistent, high-quality user experience. This will include testing external and internal links to make sure they work and take visitors where they’re meant to, and checking the website displays correctly when viewed in different browsers and on different devices.
Essential Website Maintenance Packages from Wicko Design
If you have the time and a little technical know-how, there’s no reason why you can’t maintain your own website. If you’re like most business owners though, time is likely to be in short supply, and any you do have is likely to be better spent on other aspects of your business.
Here at Wicko Design, we offer a range of website maintenance packages that suit all budgets and give business owners a hands-free solution. Key to our service is a ‘dashboard’ tool that provides us with a visual indicator of the status of each critical area. If clients want, we can give them access to this dashboard and provide training so they can carry out some basic ‘housekeeping’ maintenance themselves.
In addition to looking after your website's maintenance, you’ll want to update content regularly and make sure it stays looking good from a visual perspective. You should be able to edit copy and images and add or remove pages yourself, but if you simply don’t’ have time, or you want to carry out more complex design updates – such as adding in a new menu system, a rotating banner, a new form or a new plugin, we can help you on an ad-hoc basis.