Why website maintenance is important and how to plan.
Maintaining your site is critical to the security of your business and the happiness of your customers. That said, it is often the first thing sacrificed when new feature requests pile in and the team gets pinched for resources.
Any homeowner will recognize the agony of cleaning the gutters or routing the pipes – it is tedious, unglamorous, and unappreciated. But the metaphor means you need spring cleaning for your website, too. I recommend creating a maintenance calendar to hold your team accountable and clearly outline monthly expectations for maintenance.
Benefits to Optimizely Website Maintenance
There are three primary benefits to executing on (and adhering to) a monthly maintenance list:
- Smaller tasks, faster results, less risk – Issues tend to compound themselves, and as your site gets larger and more complex they get trickier to find. Having a maintenance plan allows your team to address many small changes early and predictably in a targeted fashion.
- Less unexpected disruptions – No one likes their car breaking down in the middle of nowhere. For your website, emergency fixes often mean diverting key resources away from planned projects and elevated levels of stress. By doing proactive maintenance, potential critical issues can be resolved in a controlled fashion well before a potential bug causes a catastrophe.
- Extended product knowledge – Adhering to a maintenance plan forces your team to know the ins-and-outs of your website. Teams who are experts of their product tend to work quicker, feel more confident, and are better at identifying potential functional and procedural improvements.
When to Perform Scheduled Maintenance
When creating a maintenance calendar, it is crucial to understand your slow season and plan to complete the heavy lifting during that time. As John F Kennedy said, “The best time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining”, don’t go out there in a lightning storm.
Consider when is your organization’s busy season. Does your online traffic spike during holiday shopping, do you hold an annual conference in the summer with online registration, or perhaps your ticket subscription sales are in the fall? Ensure your monthly website maintenance plan works well with your developer’s busy schedules.
What to Include in a Monthly Website Maintenance Plan
Begin your plan by updating to the latest version of Optimizely. Then include things like back-office cleanup, content cleanup and disaster planning. This gives you the opportunity to check IT and HR technologies that are often overlooked and review your recovery plan and accompanying materials before they are required.
Next update or create a testing plan and include items like core path testing and load testing. Again during an off season when your team and website can handle the work and follow through with needed adjustments.
Lastly, update your content strategy and perform a UX/UI review to round out your monthly maintenance plan. A content strategy best practices include reviewing approval workflows, templates, and categorization and taxonomy. It will help users find and filter content more consistently. A UX/UI review can range from the simple – check to make sure styles have been applied consistently using h1-6 appropriately, colors, spacing, etc. – to the complex – conduct surveys or usability tests to get user feedback and improve functionality where needed and work high-return updates into your development schedule.