The Importance of Website Maintenance for Small Businesses
For small businesses, an internet presence is essential if you want to continue to grow your business and expand your client base. Some believe that social media profiles on websites like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are enough to develop the community’s interest. However, without a dedicated, functional business website, your company is not using its online resources to the fullest.
Once you have a beautiful, functional webpage, it is vitally important that you maintain that website. Without proper maintenance, just like your physical establishment, your website can fall into disrepair, making it confusing and complicated for your customers to use. And the worse thing your website can be is confusing and complicated. Large corporations may have a contractor hired specifically to find and repair broken parts of their websites. As a small business, you will rarely have that capability. Even if the designer who created your webpage promises to check back in from time to time, it might not be often enough or thorough enough to ensure your customers are having the best online experience possible.
Check for Broken Links
Overtime, as servers change hands, and time goes on, links stop working properly. Even a planned update to your webpage can render pages and links useless. When a consumer is browsing your webpage, you want all of your information to be where it says it is going to be. If they have to go digging around in your site, they are less inclined to stick around and see all that you have to offer. Broken links and missing pages are a fact of internet life, but if you spend even a few minutes every month or so, clicking around your website, you can repair the problem before it becomes a hassle for your site visitors.
Especially if your webpage includes a blog, make sure it is regularly and routinely updated. When a page visitor clicks through to your blog and sees it been dormant for months, they will also assume that your company has been dormant for months. Even if it is just a few pictures, an update about birthdays, or a teaser about an upcoming product, make sure that your website is as active as the day-to-day of your business.
This goes for any “news” or “about” page as well. People who visit your site often are looking for new information. If they don’t find any new information, eventually they will stop visiting the website altogether.
Check for Correctness and Completeness
Over the years, the details of your company will change, meaning that they must also change on your website. The about page you wrote three years ago may not be entirely applicable anymore. Your products and services are going to change, and so should the description of your company. As you develop and expand, make sure to include all of those developments and expansions. For example, if you open a new store, adding that information to your website will help your customers know where they can go to purchase your products.
Also, as the details of your business change, as you get new members of your team, as your locations or focus changes, you might find not only that the information on your website is incomplete, but some of it is totally false. If you are a dentistry office, and a dentist leaves your practice, having his name remain on your website will be confusing for your patients and clients. Again, the goal of your website should be to clarify information and answer the questions of customers. If the website leaves your customer more confused than clarified, you should probably spend a little time making sure it is properly updated.
Run Routine Safety Checks
While safety checks are especially important for ecommerce sites, all web pages are susceptible to hackers. Because most websites collect information from the IP address that visits it, most have valuable information that hackers want in order to infiltrate personal computers. A well-maintained website, however, is harder to hack than a website that is seemingly abandoned. You want to be the first one to know if your website has failed the SSI and Norton tests.
You also want to be the first one to know if your website’s server goes down, or if your website is running slowly. Tech-savvy consumers are the most impatient generation yet; couple that with a short attention span, and any delay will send them searching for a different website that doesn’t make them wait. By keeping your site’s security measures up-to-date and ensuring that you have a contingency plan for slow or out-of-service servers, you will be prepared for any bump in the road. Just keep in mind that the internet can be an unpredictable place. Though no one has tried to hack your website yet, there are hackers lurking out there just searching for an unsecured, poorly-monitored webpage.
Consider a Redesign
Just like any type of design, web page design has trends, and those who surf the web a lot will be able to tell when your website hasn’t seen a spruce recently. A major overhaul is rarely necessary, but as they know at Facebook, a slight change in design every few months or so keeps things fresh and exciting. Frequent visitors will be intrigued by the new layout, and new visitors will be impressed by your company’s ability to keep up with the times.
Maintaining the website does not have to be the full-time responsibility of any of your staffers, but recognizing that it needs to be done on a regular basis, and distributing the work load will ensure not only that no one in your team will be overwhelmed with the work, and that your page is running at its highest possible functionality.
If maintaining your site isn’t something that interests you, find a web maintenance company that can do it for you.