After the launch: Ten steps to a site that won’t quit

You did it! Your brand new website is live for the world to see. It features the latest technology and modern online services. It’s cutting-edge...

Monday February 06, 2017

You did it! Your brand new website is live for the world to see. It features the latest technology and modern online services. It’s cutting-edge and looks fantastic. Most importantly, it’s a hit with your audience. Now it’s up to you to keep it that way.

Proper maintenance of your website doesn’t have to be a burden. With these simple steps, you’ll have an efficient, content-rich site that won’t quit, even months after its official launch.

Put your site to the test (and keep testing)

1. Monitor your site

There’s no sense in investing in a new website if users don’t enjoy interacting with it, or worse, if users can’t access it at all. Establish a monitoring process to understand website uptime, efficiency and user experience. Most hosting companies should provide monitoring services with their package; however, it’s good practice to set up your own monitoring system as well. Systems like Pingdom or Nagios offer excellent offsite monitoring services.

2. Test for speed

Test your website for load time and overall user experience to ensure your audience is served the content they’re looking for, in a reasonable amount of time. Increasingly, audiences are considering mobile functionality, data usage and device battery while making a decision to wait for a webpage to load, or not. Kissmetrics reports that 40 per cent of all users will leave a page after just 3 seconds of waiting; content heavy pages, large images or certain animations are often the cause for this lag.

Recommended page sizes:

  • Homepage should not exceed 1.9MB
  • Interior pages should not exceed 1.2MB

Recommended page speed:

  • Homepage load time should not exceed 4 seconds
  • Interior page load time should not exceed 3 seconds

Set yourself up for success

Web maintenance is an ongoing process, so you might as well make that process efficient.

3. Start a maintenance calendar

Keep yourself organized by adding daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual tasks to your team’s schedule to ensure that no website update, speed testing, analytics review or subscription payment is missed. Get started with our handy Post-Launch Checklist.

4. Designate a gatekeeper

Designate a single person, or small team, to oversee the creation and maintenance of user accounts in your content management system (CMS). This person will need to be trusted with adding or removing users and setting their permissions.

Does your CMS make it easy to add and remove users, and set administrative and editing permissions? i:Create does!

5. Prepare to measure your performance

The Internet is rich with analytic tools that can help you measure the strengths and weaknesses of your website. Knowing which content is getting the most engagement, or where users tend to drop off from your website allows you to make necessary changes to offer your audience the best online experience possible. Your audience and their tastes can change over time – analytics can help you see those changes so you can adapt.

Start by asking general questions:

  • Have page views, new user levels, time on a page or bounce rates increased since your last check?
  • How has the audience changed since your last check (gender, age, geographic location, device use)?
  • How did people arrive on this site (search, direct, referral, social profiles)?

Or, your questions can get more specific to dig deeper into your available data:

  • Are engagement rates impacted by traffic source?
  • Are top landing or exit pages different depending on the device used to access the site?
  • Which keywords draw people to the site, and how can we capitalize on these terms throughout content?

Keep in mind that the Internet is evolving and so are user trends. Check your analytics at least quarterly and make informed search engine optimization (SEO) revisions.

6. Take stock of your site

Allowing domain names, subdomains, friendly URLs or SSL certificates to expire can have serious implications for your website including loss of your domain. To avoid missing a crucial renewal, add multiple recipients from your staff to expiry notices, and craft a simple spreadsheet listing the domain name, SSL or URL in question with renewal dates. Check this list often – SSL certificates and domains usually need to be renewed annually, and URLs and subdomains should be checked on a quarterly basis.

Never stagnate

Your website is a living entity that will continue to grow and change, and requires constant care and nurturing.

7. Review what’s in place and fill in content gaps

Out-of-date content contributes to a poor user experience. Be sure to sift through key content, blogs, news items and contact information to identify which content is stale and calls for immediate revision. After identifying out-of-date content you’ll have a strong sense of what can be developed to fill those gaps. Refer to analytics data to identify SEO considerations.

To keep content diverse, consider different mediums like video, press releases or audience-involved content (think embedded Twitter conversations, Q & As or calendar integration). This can also help your organization get a stronger return on content that’s already being created within your organization.

8. Craft an editorial calendar

An editorial calendar can cover a number of areas including homepage content, blog topics, schedules for sharing website content across social platforms, and content updates based on what you’ve learned from your analytics. Updating content on a regular basis ensures your audience has access to the most current and relevant information that they’ve come to expect. 

9. Prioritize the homepage

Homepages should stay current and always reflect your organization and its values. Its high visibility makes the homepage a prime candidate to lead visitors to other areas of the site. Offer between three and five calls-to-action to encourage users to visit other pages or sections of the website. Some calls-to-action can take advantage of current happenings that your audience find value in, such as seasonal events and services.

10. Make sure your site is accessible to everyone

Your new website likely uses a responsive web design, which means your website is accessible to anyone, no matter what screen size or personal device they are using. But the accessibility of a website doesn’t stop there.

Another important aspect of an accessible website is complying with WCAG standards (or the accessibility standards that apply to your region). Not only does compliance with government-issued accessibility standards serve those in need of accessible websites – it serves your purpose too as accessible sites tend to rank higher on search engines. Accessible content and design elements include language, colour contrast, image descriptions, properly formatted tables, links and heading tags.

Did you know that linked documents also need to meet accessibility standards?

Modern web maintenance includes working towards the goal of having an accessible website AND accessible documents. Learn how to create accessible documents with Accessible Documents Training On-Demand.

 

 
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