Website Maintenance Overdue – Where to Start if its Been Awhile.

Website Maintenance Overdue? Is not too late to improve performance.

Something has triggered the thought that website maintenance might not be a bad idea. Maybe it started with a few minor performance issues? Or maybe you are at the point where the site is offline more than it is on? You know that no one has been there to “look under the hood” in awhile. Is it too late? I bet not. But here is where to start to begin to turn things around.

What is the current state of your website?

Our recommendation would be before restarting maintenance assess where you are at. Then decide what is the initial goal. Where do you want to get to? Possible scenarios:

  • Site is less than 5 years, but no one has touched it since it went live. But its still working. – If your site is new and still functioning, start maintenance would only improve things. Chances are you are not too far off from being up to date.
  • Site is older than 5 years and it has been at least one year before anyone has updated it. But its still working. – Maintenance will have a big impact on the performance of an older site. As you work through updates, you may find that some functions are no longer supported. Software or plugins will need replacing. But if everything was working, expect small update projects, not major.
  • Parts of the site are not functioning because no one has touched the site in awhile. – This could happen to a new or old website. Chances are if you can update the parts having issues you can recover this website. Keep up with maintenance going forward and you won’t need to replace anything for while.
  • Site is currently down or is going up and down and no one has touched the site in awhile. – Best case scenario its one thing causing conflict and it took the site down. Worst case the current site will not come back up and running updates deletes parts of the site.

Where do we start Website Maintenance?

  1. First we need to find it. To begin working on the site, you will need to track down all the logins needed to access it. This could include hosting account, CMS or site backend and your domain name if needed.
  2. Get a Backup Running. Before doing anything, get a backup of the site. In case the updates don’t go well, you can always get back to where it is now. This will also protect information if an update removes access to design info or content. You have somewhere to go copy it and restore it.
  3. Run a Security Scan. One of the dangers of delaying maintenance is missing all the security updates. Before you run new software, make sure your website code is clean. Have a security scan done to identify any potential malware or malicious code.
  4. Hosting server needs updates. Check to see if your server is running the current version of PHP. When you start running software updates, if you have old PHP, you updates might not run. Or have you been getting notices from your hosting account about hosting on an old server? The hosting company may have wanted to put you on an updated server environment. But they couldn’t because your software was too old. This would be a good opportunity to fix this and move to a new server. A new server could be a big boost for the speed and performance of your website.
  5. Run Software updates one at a time. Run each software update one at a time and test your site in-between. Just in case an update would cause an issue with your old site, running them one at a time helps to pinpoint the problem. Then you have the opportunity to decide how to proceed if something breaks. Often times when you run a core software update (like a WordPress core update), it can trigger more updates.
  6. What is the plan if something breaks? Sometimes when you catch up on updates, one or more updates can break things. Decide in advance how you want to proceed. One option would be to reverse the update for the one item causing an issue. This might leave a security issue, but the site stays functioning. Another option would be to update everything and if something breaks, do the work to fix it. This is a bigger project but the site would be rock solid going forward.
  7.  What if updates erase information? If the site is old or a malware or something has damaged the code, part of the site could be lost due to lack of maintenance. Think about how you want to proceed in a disaster situation. Do you want the original site back like it was? Or was it time for a new site anyway? Decide what you would prefer to do before you spend a lot of resources recovering parts of your website.

Once Your Site is up to date, do some content cleanup.

Once all the software and security is up to date, take the next step. Do a little cleanup on your content.

  • Search your content, including SEO titles and descriptions, and urls for past dates. Update if it makes sense.
  • Remove any outdated content like past events or seasonal specials.
  • Check your service pages and product listings. Delete anything that is no longer offered. Make sure new stuff is added.
  • Make sure contact information is current. All inquires and web forms should be sent to current staff.
  • Scan your content for anything broken. Images not displaying. Links that are missing. Error messages within the content.

Restarting Maintenance is good for the performance of your website. Using this process should make it less scary and seem less like starting over. If you have questions about where to start, sign for our Free Website Consultation. Cybervise has flexible maintenance services to help get you back on track.