Something many folks overlook is occasionally checking their website’s functionality. I recommend doing this every couple weeks, but at minimum once a month.
Most websites and the servers they are on are subjected to ongoing software updates. Unless you are paying an additional fee for maintenance checks, it’s normal for things to occasionally break due to updates.
Most website owners are not paying additional fees for such maintenance. This means you really need to take the time to check:
– that the site appears to work properly
– that your hours of operation are correct
– that any website forms are working
– that email addresses are correct
The site operation and forms are most susceptible to software updates. If you have a good web developer, the fixes will happen quickly and it will not cost you too much.
Website maintenance should be thought of like automotive maintenance. We get oil changes. We get inspections. We even make modifications and do repairs to keep our vehicle operating the way we want. And our older vehicles can cost more to upkeep – just like older websites. As websites age, more work needs to be done to keep them secure and working as originally intended.
So check your site every now and then to keep things working and have the correct information out there!
Engagement, in military terms, is described as a fight or battle between armed forces. In web terms, engagement could be thought of as the process of getting an idea across to accomplish a goal.
There are a couple major goals with websites, as I see it. One is to simply share information. Another is to sell products. Make no mistake about it – whether you are selling widgets or ice-cream or trying to increase your congregation – the goal is the essentially the same – getting people engaged.
The first, sharing information, definitely is a precursor to the second. I’d like to focus on the second here.
Websites that are more engaging with their visitors will encourage more sales. With that in mind, it follows that engagement is a result of information and aesthetics.
Aesthetics costs for a website can vary greatly. Graphic design can be time consuming. This equates to higher labor costs. Information in written form, however, is usually the least expensive part of website development. Text can usually be pasted into web pages. This is not usually as labor intensive. Having more information in text format on a website usually equates to more exposure to the public. This is because website visitors can arrive using search engines. And the search engines find your site based upon pertinent content – mostly text.
In a nutshell, if you want an engaging website – which will increase your probability of success on the web – make sure there is plenty of information in text form on it. Search engines will help get folks there and your aesthetics can do the rest.
A popular website sales pitch over the past ten or so years has been about blogging. Many web developers believe that blogging is an absolute must to get found on the web. However, believing doesn’t necessarily make it a fact.
Whether blogging will be a benefit your particular web presence is complicated. There are a number of factors to consider.
A major factor is that blogging requires time to be effective. The time has to be spent by someone entering blog material pertinent to your business or topic into your website. Otherwise you have to pay someone to keep up with it.
Keeping blogs interesting to keep site visitors engaged is another ongoing endeavor. Site visitors won’t return if the material doesn’t hold their interests.
The real power of blogging lies with search engine placement. Search engines rank websites on how pertinent they are to a particular topic or search terms. Search terms are generally words or phrases people type into search engines when they are looking for something. The more pertinent – the higher the ranking. Having more pertinent material on a site increases ranking.
So when considering whether a blog is right for your web presence or not, bear in mind that a blog must be an ongoing, continuing effort. It may be just as effective to simply have a lot of static material on your site explaining details about all your offerings.
We’ve mentioned the term WordPress previously. Over 1/3 of all websites on the planet are built using WordPress. It is the most popular website platform. The platform is the environment in which a piece of software is executed.
An important aspect of website operation is determining whether the platform is optimized for your WordPress coding. That’s difficult for most people other than server operators to know. We recommend you find out two things from your web developer:
First is whether the latest version possible of PHP is used. That’s the actual programming language WordPress is written/coded in. PHP doesn’t have to be the very latest, as there are always new versions being developed. However, your WordPress themes and plugins may not work on the very newest version. But if you are using a version of PHP 5.x you may be asking for security issues. If the plugins and themes won’t run on the newer PHP 7.x then you really need to consider upgrading your site to use newer plugins or themes. WordPress itself is kept up better than most software and works great with the very latest PHP versions.
Second is to check that your WordPress installation is running on a Linux based system. Over twenty years in this business has shown us that there are far fewer issues with WordPress operating in Linux based servers rather than Windows based servers.
Hopefully your web developer is proficient with WordPress through experience and training. He or she should know the answers to these questions. If not, we routinely reassure our clients on such matters.
And, finally, the CharlesWorks team wishes you and yours a very safe and happy 2020!
Web services providers are really not much different than most trades. Response times can vary widely. Most good tradespeople can give you an idea of when they are going to get a job done for you. If they’re too busy for you then you’d normally just find someone else.
One of the major concerns we hear expressed in the web services field is about the general lack of timely service. Before dealing with a web company you should know if it’s a one man show – which dictates whether they can respond quickly to most maintenance requests.
My belief is that small changes should be done within 3-4 work days – if not sooner. If a web company does not have staff to be able to do this in that time-frame, that should raise a red flag. A one person company will always have issues should several of its clients require service during the same time frame. One person cannot be truly reliable to be there every time you will need them.
Unfortunately for most, they don’t find out the service will be poor until they are experiencing it. Not to worry – just make the switch then. A good company has backup staff on board to see to it you are taken care of. Do what’s best for your business – deal with reliably staffed web companies who will have people to help you when you need it.
We hear lots of hype about how the economy is doing so great these days. However, it isn’t necessarily true for all and many have to watch their spending.
It’s better in YOUR pocket!
One thing to watch is minimum labor/service rates. Checking out how you’re billed for webwork can save you a lot on money over time.
You gain the most advantage for yourself by finding a web company that bills by the minute. Billing by the full hour – or even worse yet – a minimum of more than an hour – is the absolute worst for you as an end web client.
By the minute billing means if a task takes 14 minutes you are billed for 14/60 of the hourly rate. While some complicated website tasks take lots of time – but smaller tasks usually do not take long to do – like changing phone numbers, updating hours, adding or taking down specials, minor modifications to how something looks and the likes of that.
There are companies that will bill you for only the work they do for you – billing you by the minute.
I started doing it that way from the time I started my business in 1998. The business experienced considerable growth. One day, a competitor in my field told me I was “shooting myself in the foot” by charging that way. I ran into him a number of years later. He wasn’t in the web business any more.
There are many companies out there that do business fairly. If you’re paying minimum labor times or so called maintenance plans, then my suggestion is to look for a web company that will treat you fairly. You’ll save a lot of money in the long term.