Laser Technik Ltd
Annual website checklist.
A web site needs regular maintenance but it’s easily overlooked so I suggest you make a diary entry to ensure you go through this list at least once a year.
- WordPress has become the near ubiquitous software for creating new websites taking the global number of active WordPress sites to approaching 40% of the total. While the content below remains applicable, if yours is a WordPress site it does need more attention, also another post here addresses that: WordPress monthly checklist
- Are the contact details still correct? When you changed phone, email, address not only have you ensured the web site is up to date but anywhere else that needs current details. Service providers who might send a bill to an obsolete address and cancel the service when it’s not been paid.
- Have your new products been added and old ones deleted? And don’t forget lesser factors like changes to the specifications of the product.
- Are prices and shipping details still correct? Shipping can be costly and prices may change so don’t alway rely on the same provider, shop around occasionally.
- Do any forms still work as intended? The easily overlooked problem is that the email address to which a completed form is sent is embedded in program code and can be overlooked in the event of change. Also contact forms attract spam and so incorporate complex program code on the web server intended to block abuse. That code can need maintenance or upgrade.
- If you publish opening days/hours are they up to date?
- Do you use any Google or Bing properties to maximise your exposure? These can drive more visitors to your web site but may come with a degree of risk from disgruntled clients using them to post asociated negative feedback. The also require updates and maintenance. Google tools include “My Business” listing, YouTube videos about your products, Markers on Google maps. Microsoft Bing is the only real alternative to Google, it claims about 15% of the search market and offers some similar services.
- Is the site reliant on old technology? From time to time products and services a web site relies on are subject to updates that require web site changes.
- Adobe Flash is no longer supported in almost all web browsers, there was a time when it was used to build complete web sites. We used it (20 years ago) as a cost effective way to embed video clips in web pages.
- More recently there’s been a major update to PHP, a programming language used by over 80% of web sites. The new version requires that changes be made to some older program code.
- Most sites use some features provided by Google for example Google Maps and the CAPTCHA codes (used to verify that an enquiry form is being completed by a human not a bulk-spam program). These are subject to change and sometimes technical intervention will be required. For example Google Maps used to be free, they changed to a commercial model but over a year later there were thousands of web site showing an error instead of a map (they still allow a very generous amount of free usage but an account is still required in case usage should ever cross the threshold)
- Any error messages? Most common in associated program code. I’ve even seen “household name” websites displaying database errors left unfixed for weeks. If you are seeing an error message or warning, act promptly to find out why and get it fixed.
- If you have a “news” section are you adding a new story at least monthly? Actively and sensibly used (like for promoting new products and services, upcoming exhibitions) a news page is a valuable asset. Do any old stories need to be deleted? Aim to post stories that are relevant to your customers and keep them short.
- Do you have a mailing list? Bulk email to those who have registered interest in your products are very effective. If you don’t use Mailchimp or similar, reconsider. If you do use bulk email then review your usage, you should aim for at least one mailing a month (make it informative, brief and useful).
- Are any interactive maps still correct? Google maps are very versatile. They can be used to enhance your web site with features like “Where’s the nearest branch”, “Driving directions to the factory”, “delivery area mapping”. Google sometimes updates the system calling for a need to update the code on your web site. Are embedded addresses still correct?
- Any problems with the text? We all try hard to write clear concise text and check carefully for typing or spelling mistakes and poor grammar but sometimes something needs attention, that should be quick and easy to fix.
- Does the site look OK on both wide and narrow screens? Most new web sites are “responsive”, that means they adjust to work well irrespective of the size of a web site visitor’s screen, mobile, tablet or desktop. It’s not a perfect solution, converting content to fit a mobile phone screen can be “trying to put a quart into a pint pot”. Changing older sites to become responsive can be a significant task but the usage of mobile phones to view websites has become very extensive.
- Is there a backup of the web site? Remember the big TSB online banking problem in mid 2018 that took over a week to fix? All new web sites we create are backed up daily and we usually hold a separate copy elsewhere so that in the worst case we can load a copy to a different web server. We also use a CDN (Content delivery network) which holds duplicates of your web site on a global network of servers.
- Is your site secure? This is often indicated by a small green locked padlock icon or similar. Without it some web browsers now show and alerts like “This site is insecure”. That will scare visitors away, also Google search prioritises secure sites.
A security certificate used to be tricky to implement and expensive, it can now be provided easily and inexpensively (We implement it free for our web hosting clients).
- Do any downloadable documents need updating? It’s common for non-core content like privacy policies to be provided in PDF format. PDFs are easily overlooked when content updates are required.
- Do you have a note of who to call in the event of problems? It can be confusing, something’s not working – is it your PC, your broadband connection, your web host, has a bill payment been overlooked to your web designer, web host, domain name registrar or is there another technical problem?
We’ve all called provider “A” who say the problem is with provider “B”. So you call provider B and they tell you the problem is with provider A. Not just that but each call involves waiting 20 minutes in a call queue only to reach a “help desk” operated by minimum wage staff with challenging accents and “calls handled per hour” targets to meet.
You need someone with the technical understanding to correctly diagnose the problem. On numerous occasions I’ve had to prove to one of those help desks that it is indeed their problem in order for them to escalate it to more competent technicians.
- Are there any new legal compliance issues to address? In recent years we’ve had to consider Cookie alert notices, GDPR compliance and no doubt there will be more to come…
- Are there any other issues needing attention? Anything we should add to this list!