Building a beautifully designed website that engages your audience takes commitment. There are many things to consider when building a website; aesthetics and user experience is important for your business presence. However, once your website is up and running, it doesn’t stop there. Just like a beautiful car with a well-designed engine, your website needs to be maintained to run effectively.
So, what does it mean to effectively maintain your website? Here are a few of our top tips…
Start with a robust website build – laying good foundations
A robust build will mean a developed website with processes to prevent issues. It is worth investing time in making sure a website is built correctly as it will avoid issues in the future saving time and money in the long run.
For eCommerce sites, this could start with simply mapping your buyer’s journey. Start from the home page and track what you think a buyer would do next. This would cover a lot of the website, from product pages to checkout and final purchase. You should also ensure you have social media links set up correctly for sharing products. For all types of sites, it’s also important to make sure that your site runs efficiently and easily on mobile and other devices.
Monitor your site
How is your site used and does that affect the speed of your pages? By monitoring your site usage and checking page speeds you will be able to see where there might be a need for improvements. Be sure to check the speed of your site via different connections too. Test your site load speed on a fast desktop connection first, and if all looks good, check slower connections on some mobile networks.
Also, consider whether you receive higher traffic at specific times. Like site promotions or events? How does your site handle with spikes in traffic? These are all important question you need to ask yourself when considering how and what to focus on when monitoring your site traffic.
Manage website content
First of all, keep check on what is being uploaded; how big is it and does it affect speed? Also, take SEO into consideration when uploading images and files (i.e. upload with optimised file names).
Being mindful of your image sizes
Images usually take up a large proportion of the size of your website, affecting the load speed. Only look to upload images at the maximum dimensions that would be required for display within your website. For example, if your maximum site width is 1200 pixels, it is unlikely that your images would need to be uploaded at any width greater than that.
When you are building your site, you will have very carefully considered the copy you used and the experience of your users. This continues to be important when managing your content. How a user navigates the site has a big impact on efficiency. When adding to your site, create the most efficient ‘journey’ for the user, where do you want them to go and how do they do it with minimal clicks. Making a site easy to natigate keeps it running smoothly
Bottom line, having images that are too big, or having too much repetitive content can slow your website down and impact SEO.
As well as monitoring and checking site speeds and content, test your website processes work as expected in terms of functionality. For example, if you have an eCommerce website, make sure you test that the purchase from start to finish works as expected.
Testing isn’t a one-time thing. This will need to be continuous. Expect that changes will have an unexpected effect on other areas of the website and build time in for site testing when any changes are made to the website.
There are so many moving parts in the web – and they are moving quickly. If you are using a CMS such as WordPress, you are highly likely to be using plugins. The best ones will be continually updated, as will WordPress itself. This will either be for feature additions, bug fixes or security updates so it is important to keep these up to date. Sometimes, depending on how well the plugins have been created, there may be issues so although you should update, you will always need to test your site after making these updates to look for any breaking changes.
Look to use as few plugins as possible on your site. Overloading can lead to a large task of managing these updates and increase the likelihood of issues – some may be surplus your needs. You may just be using a small feature of the plugin, yet it adds more features than are necessary (taking up more resources). Others may stop being maintained and over time can fall behind, either causing issues with using old code or becoming a security issue as more vulnerabilities are found.
As well as keeping the functional processes on your site up to date, take time to regularly check your SEO and copy and update your site where it might be necessary. This ensures your site users are always reading the most relevant information about your business.
Building a website takes time, but your newly published website isn’t the end! Maintaining your site, ensuring it is updated and continues to work efficiently is key to optimising your digital presence.
At Arkay Digital, the end of a bespoke website build is just the start of optimising our clients’ digital presence.
As well as building your website, we are building knowledge of your business and laying the foundation of a lasting relationship that means that we can support you in the changing needs of your business by keeping your website running exactly as it should and grows as you do.