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You probably know how important it is to keep your website updated. When I talk with folks about their websites, I often ask how their site is working out and what could it do better for them. Sometimes, I get the response,

“I’m not sure, I haven’t done much to keep my website updated.”

Yup, we’re all busy.

At any given moment, we’re all probably juggling a half dozen things at the same time. But, not touching your website for months, or sometimes years, is never a good thing. Even when I’ve not posted on my blog or my other websites for a while, I still administer and maintain them pretty frequently. I’ll tell you why this is important.

Check on your website to keep it safe

I’ve seen some bad cases of website hacking with malicious code or malware. Finding the root of the problem and removing it effectively can be tricky and time consuming. Having said that, the sites that have had the worst-case scenarios were left for long periods of time without any administration or even site visits by the owner.

HTML Website Updates

If your site is an HTML site, checking the site and updating the pages can prevent or at least detect malicious activity early.

Keeping your WordPress site current

With a WordPress site, it’s just as important to check your website to ensure that you’re running the latest version, your plugins are current, and your theme is running the newest version. WordPress updates come out with security fixes to protect against known vulnerabilities. Keeping WordPress updated is essential for protecting all of the hard work you’ve put into your website. In addition to keeping WordPress updated, don’t forget about checking installed plugins and themes for the latest version.

Update your site to keep relevant

Google is in the business of delivering relevant results. When Google indexes, or checks out your website, it’s looking to see if there is any new or relevant content it can include in its search engine results.

Old and outdated pages or posts lose points when it comes to being relevant. When a website’s pages or posts are old, it goes down in ranking, especially when compared to similar sites with newer content. If you want your website to come up in search engine results, there has to be new pages and posts added or updated frequently.

Run performance checks to keep it optimized

In addition to keeping sites that I work on updated, I also check them to make sure they’re running smoothly. A couple of tools that I use are Google’s PageSpeed Insights and HubSpot’s Website Grader. Both tools give you information on mobile as well as desktop performance and offer hints on what you can do if your site has a low score. Also, here’s an article from Geekflare that lists some more testing tools.

Periodic performance testing lets you see if your site is running smoothly

With periodic performance testing, you will see if your site is running smoothly or if it’s time to make adjustments. By keeping an eye on a site’s performance, I was able to see that the server the site was hosted on wasn’t responding well. This led to the discovery that my client’s hosting was on a pretty old server that needed to be upgraded.

All in all, websites need to be checked and updated regularly to give you the best results.

Why I ask them, and why your web designer should ask them, too.

If you’re thinking about getting with a web designer to help you with your website project, then this is the post for you. Over the years, I’ve found that potential clients are sometimes not sure where to begin. Often, the right questions get us both pointed in the right direction.

1. What is it that you want the website to do for you?

Understanding what a website is for should really drive its design. If a client is looking to showcase their work, then having a portfolio will be pretty important. If an online store is what they’re looking for, then the design should showcase their products. Truly, every page throughout the website should reflect what it’s supposed to do.

2. Do you have a current website?

If you have a current website, it’s good for the designer to see what you currently have and how it has been used in the past. They should ask you some questions of their own. Now, if you don’t have a website, that’s fine, too. Be sure to let whomever you may be working with, that this is a first time for you. They should be able to help you with ideas for hosting, mapping out your website, and the type of site will work best for you.

3. Will you want to make updates and changes to your website yourself

If the web designer doesn’t ask this question, make sure you tell them if you want to make website updates yourself. Even if you’re not sure but may want to make site updates in the future, let them know. The important thing is for your website to be built in a way that works for you. You want them to build you a site that you can use and manage.

4. What’s your timeline for completion?

When I’ve asked this question, I’ve had some clients tell me they wanted their site live by the following week. Can this be done? Yes, but a couple of things factor into how. First and foremost, if the site is just 10 pages or so, a quick turnaround is completely doable. This is provided that all of the content or text, and images are readily available in a finished form. When it comes to content or text, it must be proofread and clearly indicated where it goes on each page. As for photos, if there are a lot of photos and they need to be resized or touched up, it will take time to do that, so consider that in the overall timeline. Take a look at a previous post on organizing content for help with this.

5. Who are, or who do you think, will be your primary site visitors?

It’s important think about who you want to attract, and keep, on your website and design with these visitors in mind. If you’re a local business and you want site visitors to walk in your front door, make it easy for folks to find you.  Your site should include photos of your business and staff along so that when folks walk in for the first time, they feel comfortable. Directions with a click of a button are always a good idea so potential customers can get to your location easily using their phone.

6. Do you have logo or business card?

The reason I have this in my list is because any web design should work with an existing logo for branding purposes. Making your website memorable, with a cohesive look and feel with any printed materials you have, goes a long way.

7. What other websites do you like and why?

I ask this question because it often gives me a good starting point to see what someone’s looking for in a website. It’s at this point that I also talk with them about features that might work well for them like

  • News Section or Blog
  • Photo Galleries or Portfolios
  • Contact Form
  • FAQ Page
  • Testimonials, Reviews or Case Studies

8. Do you have the content and images for your website ready?

If someone has their content ready, great. If not, that’s okay too; I just give hints on how to get the content ready starting with the sitemap and then talking about how to organize the content. To be honest, websites that take a long time to finish, take a long time because of incomplete content or pages. As crazy as it seems, I’ve had to wait sometimes a year or more to get everything I need to finish a website. Remember, you can always add to a website. So, having pages that are well put together and complete to start, and then adding more if needed later, often works best.

9. What do you want your online visitors to do while they’re on your website?

Do you want them to purchase products, connect with you, read your blog or even donate to your cause? Whatever it is that you want your site visitors to do, you need to make sure you’re pointing in that direction on every page and it’s clearly marked. The last thing you want is to lose someone because they had trouble navigating your website.

10. Do you have any social media accounts?

Incorporating social media accounts in websites is a great way to make the social media work harder. Sometimes we include feeds from social media right on websites so site visitors can have an interactive experience in a number of ways. Also, knowing what social media is out there lets me see if there is consistent branding across all of the platforms.

If you’re talking with a web designer, have this list handy and if they don’t ask you these questions, ask them about any or all of the above.

Again, I ask these questions because more than anything, I want to create websites that are built in a way that work best for my clients and their site visitors. Any web designer you work with should want the same for you, too.

Have questions about this article? Let me know.