Care and Feeding of WordPress
Now that you’ve launched your website, you may have the impulse to forget all about it! But, unless you’ve hired someone to take care of it, you’re going to need to check in on it from time to time to keep it updated and secure. Set a reminder and schedule time to do the following tasks– at least monthly.
Run Software Updates
Bad bots are scouring the web as I type this, looking for old WordPress installations, themes, and plugins that have exploits in them. When they find one, they quickly take over the site and use your resources for their own nefarious purposes. Sometimes this results in a broken website, but sometimes they can run their own processes quietly in the background. Eventually, your bandwidth is exceeded or your web host’s security processes realize the server’s been compromised, and your site may be quarantined until it can be repaired.
That’s a messy prospect– you may have to nuke and pave in order to recover. To avoid downtime and the cost of repair, make sure your code is current:
- Update WordPress if a new version is out.
- Update your themes.
- Update your plugins.
- Deactivate plugins that aren’t currently in use.
- Delete any themes or plugins that will never get used again.
The more software you have running, the greater the risk of conflicts.
Update your knowledge along with your software. Familiarize yourself with the changes! What good are new tools and features if you don’t know they’re there, or you don’t know how to use them?
After any updates, run a pass through your site and check links and media to make sure there are no broken links or images due to software conflicts, feature changes, or human error.
Make sure your contact forms still send messages to the right address, and that all external links are still working and relevant.
Accuracy and Context
Don’t neglect your content– it is the most important thing on your site. Make sure you remove and replace outdated information. If you have staff turnover, check your team profiles. If you don’t offer a particular service or product anymore, remove or archive the items so clients and customers don’t end up on a wild goose chase.
Make sure to account for the context of current events– especially if you have content queued up to be published in the future.
If you stumble across old content that you’ve since learned has become insensitive or appropriated, erase it, correct it, or otherwise make amends. In some cases, you can even call it out if it serves as a good example of what not to do. Be intentional about how your brand interacts with the world. We all make mistakes– correcting yourself with grace and purpose shows integrity.
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TL;DR: No one loves to do an audit or an inventory, but if you schedule a monthly checkup you’ll keep it short and sweet, and you’ll never be embarrassed by an outdated or hacked website! If you are honest with yourself and you know you won’t get around to it, don’t hesitate to hire it out or train up your support staff.