Websites need regular maintenance, care and attention to ensure that they remain in peak condition and continue to provide value to your organisation.
A good WordPress Agency will take care of the day-to-day maintenance of your website for you but as a website owner, it’s useful for you to know some best practice to ensure that your website continues to run smoothly.
We’ve put together some practical tips to ensure that your WordPress website remains as fast and trouble-free as the day it was delivered.
#1Enable Automatic Backups
Having good backups in place is one of the most important tasks of running any website. Backups play a vital role in security, as websites are much more likely to fall prey to hackers and ransomware if they don’t have adequate backups in place.
It is also essential to backup your WordPress website before making any changes, such as editing pages or installing new plugins. This will ensure that the site can always be rolled-back to a previous state in cases where new plugins, coding errors or mistakes have caused a feature, page, or even the whole site to break.
A backup should include all of your website’s code files, databases, images, plugins and any add-ons. While there are many backup plugins available, we would recommend working with a good WordPress Agency that will take care of this for you.
It’s also useful to note that managed WordPress hosting providers usually offer server-side automatic backups as part of their hosting plans.
#2Check For Updates Regularly
Another important security aspect of running a WordPress website is regularly checking for and installing core updates – as well as updates to any themes or plugins – as these contain crucial security patches from developers.
As well as being important for security, updates help your website to keep running smoothly, and prevent compatibility issues with themes and plugins.
If the website is going to be run by a large team, it is vital to put one or more people in charge of checking for updates on a regular basis. However, a good WordPress agency will take care of this for you, allowing your team to focus on what you do best.
#3Create Style Guides
A lot of work goes into crafting the look and feel of a new WordPress website, and it’s important to ensure that these elements aren’t eroded over time. Internal style guides can have a variety of functions, and are equally valid for coding, written content or media.
Style guides ensure that anyone working on, or contributing to, the website does so in a way that is consistent with the original coding, layout and appearance, as well as the brand identity of the company involved.
This is particularly relevant for large teams or websites that use a lot of contributors, where careful management of shared tasks and responsibilities is essential.
#4Create Checklists For Key Processes
While style guides provide a general guide to writing code, content or choosing images and rich media, checklists can provide a more detailed process for individual tasks.
These should cover basic problem areas, such as pasting written content in plain text rather than html, where to source images from, how to correctly format and resize them before uploading, and how to correctly embed rich media such as videos.
Checklists can also cover basic elements within WordPress posts – like categories, tags, meta descriptions and permalinks – for less advanced user roles such as writers and contributors. This will ensure that all processes are carried out correctly, and can point contributors towards any relevant style guide for specific tasks and activities.
#5Manage Your Content
Online businesses understand the power and value of good content, but the benefits don’t come without a lot of hard work and consistency.
New content should appear on a regular basis in order to generate engagement within the target audience. Setting a publishing schedule can help keep things organised and on track, and allows for tasks to be allocated ahead of time.
If you’ve decided to allow comments on your site, these will need to be managed as well. An important part of this is ensuring that spam filter such as Akismet are enabled, in order to prevent comments from spam bots being published.
It’s also a good idea – particularly with larger teams – to make sure that someone is in charge of moderating and replying to comments, as a lack of responsiveness can be worse than having no comments in the first place.
Finally, it’s important to regularly review all published content, as old, out-dated or irrelevant posts can be harmful to both SEO and user experience.
#6Optimise All Images
Large, slow-loading images can put a huge strain on the performance of a website, and harm site speed. On the other hand, poor quality images can have a detrimental effect on the look of a website, and will cause a negative user experience.
Thankfully, plugins such as ShortPixel are able to compress all of a website’s images without losing any quality – ensuring that all of your images remain both beautiful and optimised for performance.
Once all existing images have been optimised, the plugin continues running silently in the background, so that all new images and PDFs get compressed as soon as they are uploaded.
However, it’s still important to ensure that any new media is high-quality to begin with, and has been correctly formatted to fit within the layout of the website. These processes can then be recorded in checklists for all future users
WordPress is a fantastic, easy-to-use CMS that comes with loads of incredible features that provide excellent performance and SEO out of the box. But over time, poor management of these tools can greatly reduce the speed and SEO capabilities of a website.
By establishing rigorous style guides and checklists for all users, WordPress clients can ensure that changes and new content are consistent with the website’s original design and brand identity, and are not only good for the website itself, but also for the reputation of the company that runs the site.