Between content audits, wireframes, design mockups, beta sites, content creation, and launch, there’s a lot that goes into a new website build. After a successful launch, it can be easy to sit back and take it easy and not think about WordPress maintenance. A website is much like a houseplant or a pet – it needs regular attention in order to thrive.
Today we’re taking a look at how proper website maintenance can keep your website in tip-top shape and prevent potential disasters. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Taking little steps on a regular basis can make WordPress maintenance a breeze.
Let’s start with the one area that your visitors will notice most, site speed. Did you know that your site’s speed can affect your search rankings? After 3 seconds of load time, each extra second can increase your bounce rate by an additional ten percent.
Even if your site was speedy when it was launched, it can slow down over time without proper care. Adding new plugins, updating old ones, adding large photos, and never clearing out your revisions can all affect your site speed.
- Periodically optimize your site database and remove unneeded site revisions
- Regularly review the plugins used on the site and remove any unnecessary ones
- Review image sizes for your site and don’t upload images larger than is needed
- Use a plugin like WP Smush Pro to compress uploaded images
- Make sure that your developer has enabled gzip compression on your site
Did you know that WordPress powers over 75 million websites worldwide? This means that there’s an army of developers working on new plugins and support people to call on but this popularity can cut both ways. It’s also an attractive platform for hackers to try to break.
The WordPress team does a great job of keeping their core secure and pushing out updates to fix any vulnerabilities that are discovered. It’s up to us to apply these updates to ensure that our site is as bulletproof as possible. Keeping your WordPress installation up to date may keep you safe from vulnerabilities in WordPress itself, however, this doesn’t account for the other two thirds: your theme and your plugins. We recommend popping into the backend of your site at least weekly to review, apply, and test any theme and plugin updates.
We also strongly recommend installing a security plugin like Wordfence that will also protect your site from brute-force login attacks and can alert you when any unusual activity or malicious code is found. Having a plugin like this will let you rest easy at night knowing that your site is protected.
- Update WordPress core files
- Update theme files
- Update plugins
- Review reports in your security plugin
The lead generation lifeblood of most websites is the humble contact form. But would you know if yours suddenly stopped working? Unlike when something else breaks on your site a contact form may not show any obvious signs of malfunctioning…until someone goes to use it. Dropped leads from your contact form can be disastrous for your business. A little prevention can go a long way.
- As part of regular maintenance, send a test message through each unique form on your site
So you know that you need to keep the code of your site up to date, but what happens if one of those updates breaks your site? Or what if a hacker got past your security measures and now there’s malicious code wreaking havoc on your beautiful website? This could result in lost hours or days of productivity while you try to fix it or money spent on getting a developer in on the fix.
Why risk spending time and money to put out a fire when, with the click of a button, you could jump back to the moment before it began? Backups to the rescue!
Backups can be done manually: by logging into your hosting account and downloading a copy of all sites files and exporting a copy of the database, or you can use a plugin like UpdraftPlus to help manage the task. You can also put backups on a schedule so that you know you always have a somewhat recent version of your site in your back pocket.
- Back up your site before any core WordPress updates
- Perform a regular backup at least monthly
A fully-featured website has many moving parts and keeping everything running smoothly may seem daunting. Considering security changes, server updates, asset performance, plugin compatibility, and changes to WordPress itself, it can be hard to stay on top of it all, but with a maintenance plan and schedule in hand, you’ve got this!
We hope that you’ve gained an appreciation for the “mundane” task of WordPress maintenance. If you’d like to know more, we’re happy to help! Call us, send us an email, or shoot us a message on Facebook.